You're sitting in the doctor's office and they've just said it. The "C" word. Cancer. How can a single word represent such a devastating and life-altering diagnosis?
I want you to know that your acupuncturist is there to help get you through this incredibly difficult time in your life. Cancer treatments are often radical and rarely without extreme side effects. It's not uncommon for someone with cancer to be unable to even get through these potentially life-saving treatments because they can be so harsh. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you get through your biomedical treatments by reducing such side effects as nausea, dry-mouth, decreased energy and so many more.
I've had people ask if it's safe to do acupuncture while someone is going through cancer treatments. The answer is yes. Acupuncture alone will not interfere with radiation or chemotherapy.
When it comes to Chinese herbal medicine, the answer is a little more gray. To be honest, there isn't enough research on Chinese herbal medicine, particularly in combination with chemo or radiation to make a statement. It is thought that some herbs may interfere with radiation treatments. The most important thing is to ask your oncologist what they feel comfortable with. Feel free to have them speak with your acupuncturist about Chinese herbs and the potential for interactions as well as relief from side effects.
If you or a loved one has just been diagnosed, give yourself the best shot at survival and recovery. Consider acupuncture and Chinese medicine to help get you through your cancer treatments.
You're sitting in the doctor's office and they've just said it. The "C" word. Cancer. How can a single word represent such a devastating and life-altering diagnosis?
Yeah.. I said it... the F-word! The Flu! I know everyone is going through a bit of a panic with the recent swine flu news, so today I'm going to give you some natural tips to keep you and your family healthy!
I want you to know that natural medicine isn't a quick fix. You can't get acupuncture and know that within 30 minutes your symptoms will be gone. (Okay, sometimes you can, headaches and other body pains can be relieved on the table, but one treatment still doesn't keep the symptom from reappearing later.)
Chinese medicine is a system that addresses the source of the problem. It doesn't just cover up your suffering. Don't get me wrong, sometimes we could use some ibuprofen to get rid of that headache now, but what would your life be like if you didn't experience headaches everyday? What if you didn't even need to BUY ibuprofen?
Doesn't that sound like a better existence?
I want you to know that there is a possibility out there of living a life where you're NOT constantly hiding from symptoms. Yes, this takes an initial investment in time and money, but think of the long term consequences. You no longer need that prescription which is costing you $200 a month! You end up SAVING money because you don't wind up with heart disease, diabetes or any number of surgeries which all have HUGE bills attached to them! You are able to go on that 3 hour hike! You don't have to wonder which event is going to be missed out on because you weren't feeling well enough!
What a RICH life!
So I want you to stop thinking about natural medicine as this expensive service that you have to go to every week for a while. Think of it as an investment. An investment in your health. An investment in your life. An investment in your future.
Growing up we had this cat. We called him Sargie. Why "Sargie," you may ask? Sargie was born to a stray momma who decided to birth her kittens under my aunt's back deck. Momma was a manx (no tail) as well as most of the kittens. Because having no tail is a deformity of the spine, there can often be other problems located anywhere else on the spine.
As a kitten, Sargie was very slow in developing. While his brothers and sisters were walking around, romping and playing, Sargie wasn't. We wondered if he would ever walk, be able to get to his food, water and litter box. He was about a month behind the others in getting going, but when he finally did, he did what looked like an army crawl. You've seen the movies with the guys at boot camp crawling under the barbed wire... that's how Sargie got around as a kitten. Because he was now able to get to his food and litter box, we decided we didn't care how "normal" he was, he could have a great life in our family. Soon enough Sargie was walking normally. It seems that it just took him some time to gain the strength to walk correctly.
Sargie was a GREAT cat. He was extremely loving (even to the dogs, whom he LOVED to rub up against). He was so laid-back that he even allowed momma-less Humane Society foster kittens to suckle on him! This earned him the nickname "Unkie Sarge."
When Sargie was about 8 years old we started noticing that he seemed stiff and was cranky with the other pets in the house. We took him to our vet to see what was going on. It turns out he had pretty advanced arthritis because of his deformed spine. Upon x-rays, we found that he had missing vertebrae, some that were fused and some that were just deformed. All of these abnormal changes were causing Sargie a lot of pain. It was suggested that we get him started onglucosamine and chondroitin to slow the advance of the arthritis.
The vet also suggested that we let him do acupuncture on Sargie.
This was after our family had had some significant life changes because of acupuncture (see my story here) so this sounded reasonable. However, we never expected the results that we saw!
After going home from Sargie's vet appointment where he received his first-ever acupuncture treatment, he was a new cat! He was once again playing with the other cats rather than growling at them! He was rubbing up on the dogs once more! He was back to normal!
We took Sargie back for acupuncture treatment every week for about a month, then every other week for about 4 more visits, and then as needed for his pain. On average, after his pain was under control, we took him in about every 3-6 months for what we called "Sargie's Tune-Up."
After seeing these results, and my path came clear that I was going to become an acupuncturist, there was no way I was going to miss out on treating pets as well! They respond so much quicker than their human counterparts. Is it because they're more sensitive? Do they have less stress? Do they not internalize the stress? I'm not sure exactly why they respond so well to treatment, it's probably some combination of the above ideas. I do know that I love having the opportunity to help pets be their happiest and healthiest!
Our family is putting a vegetable garden in our backyard. This is something we've wanted to do for a long time now and it just didn't ever seem to happen. We're super excited about it and look forward to our bounty! We're going to keep it simple this year - plants that pretty much grow like weeds - tomatoes, zucchini, beans, etc.
I'm not sure which part of it I'm most excited about.
Our backyard had been destroyed by the dogs, so we're really getting it put back together this year. That makes the organizer in me pleased. This is the metal in me.
I'm excited to get my hands in the dirt and to connect with the soil directly. I love being in the dirt. Being soild. This is the earth in me.
I look forward to watching all of our little plants change daily and to watch them reach for the sky. They're so adventurous! This is the wood in me.
The sun beating down on my back while I tend to my garden, absorbing that heat, that warmth - can't wait to bask in it! To let it empower me! This is the fire in me.
To water my little plantlings and watch the water snake its way around the garden, to watch it soak down through the earth, finding resistance, finding a way around, a way through - whatever it takes to make it to the roots of those little plants. This is the water in me.
Gardening can fulfill so many needs - exercise, sustenance, a breath of fresh air. Who knew it could also fulfill so many elemental needs as well?
Alright, if you're a little queasy, you may not want to read much further. There is no picture included today, because I couldn't find anything appropriate that would be safe for all stomachs.
Placenta was first mentioned as a Chinese herb in a Materia Medica in 741 AD. So, why would anyone want to consume their placenta? In Chinese medical theory, the process of bearing and birthing a child is very exhausting on the mother's Qi and Blood supplies. She literally gives of herself to form this new life. After birth, a mother is very deficient and will often experience symptoms such as extreme fatigue, insufficient milk-production, depression, insomnia, anemia, headaches and many more. It has been found that if a mother consumes the placenta following birth, her Qi and Blood levels will be greatly improved, improving any post-partum symptoms she may be experiencing. How many cases of post-partum depression could be avoided? How many babies could more easily be successfully breast-fed?
Some people are willing to eat their placenta raw (which is optimal). Some people are willing to eat it cooked as the meat in a recipe (do a Google search and you'll find TONS of recipes!). Now, I know what you may be thinking, "I'm not a cat/dog/cow/animal, there's no WAY you're going to get me to eat that!" For those of us who aren't likely contestants for Fear Factor, there are other options for ingesting placenta and boosting our Qi and Blood following the birth of our child that may be a little easier to stomach.
There are companies who will send you the materials to dry, grind and encapsulate your placenta so it's no different than taking your daily prenatal vitamin! One such company is PlacentaBenefits.info. They will also complete the encapsulization process for you if you're not interested in the laborious process after you've already labored enough, thank you very much!
For those of you who still can't stomach the thought of eating your own placenta, speak with your Chinese herbalist. The placentae used in herbal formulas today come from pigs and cows, which may be a bit more do-able for you!
I hear it ALL the time. "It's natural, so it's safe, unlike 'x,' 'y' or 'z' medication." Just because it's natural doesn't mean that it's safe. Many natural substances are, in fact, poisonous. Occasionally we have learned a safe dose range, but that still doesn't mean that it should be used by everyone for everything.
For example, Foxglove is a very poisonous plant - beautiful, but poisonous. It has been used for many years, in the form of digitalis, to correct some heart rhythm problems. However, digitalis has a VERY narrow range of safe dosing, and isn't appropriate for all people with heart problems.
It makes me very nervous when I over hear people talking about how excited they are that they're treating themselves with "such and such" herb, without their doctor's consent, without discussing their use with any herbal professional and often without telling any of their health care providers that they are using said substance.
Some herbs have interactions with medications and these interactions can be very dangerous. Some medications may have their effects negated. Some medications may have their effects multiplied. In both cases, imagine the consequences being equivalent to not taking the medication or taking more than the prescribed amount. The results could be catastrophic for some patients!
Some herbs are not meant for all presentations of a symptom. For example: ginger. Read my personal story of Why you have to be careful with home herbal remedies, and you'll see how the side effects can be very uncomfortable and avoidable. I was lucky that I eventually recognized the problem, but what if you weren't aware of the possible side effects? You might suffer needlessly! Some people are even prescribed medications to counteract such side effects. This is so unnecessary!
It's great to use natural products, because the chance of side effects, when used properly and under knowledgeable supervision, is greatly reduced when compared to biomedicines. However, natural substances should be considered as medications, something that is prescribed with assistance from a trained professional.
Feel free to talk with your acupuncturist about any natural substances that you are taking or are considering taking. At least, you may save yourself some unnecessary side effects, at most you may save your life.
So, you've had your first acupuncture treatment and now you're wondering, "Okay, so when am I going to feel blissfully different, like everyone talks about?"
The short answer? It depends. I know, you probably don't really like that answer. But don't worry, I'll give the long answer next.
We're all different. This is the basis for Chinese medicine. We're all different, so we all get different treatments. We all heal at different speeds. Also, the speed to which we heal can depend on how long we've been experiencing our unhealth. A sore back that was caused by working too hard in the garden last weekend will heal much faster than a back that was injured 20 years ago on the job and flares up periodically.
Now, this isn't to say that a chronically injured back can't heal quickly. That all depends upon:
If you're wondering how long it may take for you to get healthy again, please talk with your acupuncturist. They may be able to give you a ball-park idea of how long it may take. After a couple of treatments, your acupuncturist can usually give you a better idea of how long it will take based on the early changes you experience.
Chinese medicine is a medicine that evolved somewhere between 3000 and 5000 years ago (at least that's the best guess, some think it may be even older!). This was all before the time of MRI's, x-rays and blood tests. In order to get an accurate diagnosis, the Chinese medical practitioners of ancient times looked very carefully at the body to gather as many clues as possible.
One of the methods of looking at the body closely evolved into pulse diagnosis. Now, we've all sat at the doctor's office and had them count the number of times our heart beats per minute. They commonly take this reading at wrist on the radial artery. Chinese medicine took this a step further. Not only does an acupuncturist or herbalist count the number of beats per minute, they also can get an overview of what's going on in your body by feeling the quality of your pulse.
Each wrist has three pulse positions. On the right wrist, the energy of the Lung, Large Intestine, Spleen, Stomach and Kidney Yang can be felt. On the left wrist, the energy of the Heart, Small Intestine, Liver, Gall Bladder and Kidney Yin can be felt. Each organ can be assessed by feeling the qualities of the pulse at its position on the wrist.
The qualities or textures of the pulses that can be felt at each position on the wrist are:
If you've been to an acupuncturist, you've heard the line "Okay, now I'd like to take a look at your tongue." If not, you may be wondering what the HECK an acupuncturist would want to see your tongue for? Our tongues mirror the health of our bodies, and by looking at your tongue, an acupuncturist can get helpful clues as to what's going on inside you.
When your acupuncturist is looking at your tongue, they're looking at several things:
1. General shape of your tongue: Is your tongue a nice "U" shape? Does it have a thin pointy tip? Does it look like your tongue is scalloped or that you've taken bites out of the edges of your tongue? If your tongue is a "U" shape, this is a pretty good sign of overall health. If you've got a pointy tip to your tongue, you probably have some sort of yin deficiency. If your tongue is scalloped, you probably have problems with dampness and Spleen Qi deficiency.
2. Color of your tongue: Is your tongue a baby pink color? Is it beet red? Is it purple? Or maybe it has pale sides? If your tongue is a baby pink color, you probably are pretty healthy with few complaints. If your tongue is red or beet red, you probably suffer from some sort of heat problems. Hot flashes often present with a bright red tongue. If your tongue is purple you're likely in some sort of pain or are very stressed out (or both!)
3. The coating of your tongue: Can you easily see the color of your tongue? Is it hidden by a thick, greasy-looking substance that you try to brush off with your toothbrush every morning? If you can easily see the color of your tongue, you probably don't have any dampness problems. However, if our tongue coating is thick and it masks the color of your tongue body, you likely do suffer from such complaints.
I'm not going to put pictures of tongues on here, because not everyone has the stomach for it. If you do have the stomach for it, ask your friends and family if you can see their tongues. You'll be surprised at how different tongues can be from one another!