Chinese Medicine considers preventative care as important as treating the disease itself. If we cultivate our health we can prevent illness and injury from occurring and minimize their consequences when 'disease evils' do attack us. Join Kath Bartlett, MS, LAc as she shares thoughts, news articles, recipes & tips derived from a wide variety of source material, as it relates to Chinese medicine and cultivating optimal health for the body, mind and spirit.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness Improve Health

I was just wat
ching Dr. Wayne Dyer's Power of Intention on PBS this afternoon. He highlighted some interesting medical research on the health benefits of preforming acts of kindness. Apparently researchers have studied the effects of acts of kindness on both the giver, receiver and the witnesses and have concluded that preforming acts of kindness increases serotonin levels and strengthens immune function in both the giver, receiver and witnesses of acts of kindness.

Serotonin's are brain neurotransmitters, a type of endorphin. Increased levels in serotonin's are seen in happy people: increased endorphin levels are the brain chemicals responsible for the 'runners high'. Many of the anti-depressant drugs function to increase brain serotonin levels.

According to Dyer, researchers have found that witnessing, giving or receiving acts of kindness will increase these brain chemicals, in addition to strengthening immune function. It doesn't get more empowering than that! KB

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Amazing YouTube Video: Qi demonstration

Here’s an amazing video from a Qi Gong master, John Cheng of Java demonstrating his incredible abilities with qi: you can hardly believe your eyes. He lights a piece of paper on fire, turns on an LED light bulb, and sends a chopstick through a 1” thick wood table with a Formica top using qi emanating from his hands. A patient of mine went to Java to get treated by John and attests that this is legit. KB

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Spiritual Aspects of Pain

I was reviewing some notes this evening about the treatment of pain in Chinese medicine from a seminar taught by Jeffery Yuen. Jeffrey Yuen comes from two Daoist lineages – 88th generation of the Yu Qing Huang Lao Pai (Jade Purity School, Yellow Emperor/Lao Tzu Sect) and 26th generation of the Quan Zhen Long Men Pai (Complete Reality School, Dragon Gate Sect). As a Taoist priest, he has some interesting perspectives on healing and Chinese medicine.

With regards to treating pain, Jeffery discusses the spiritual implications of pain.

In Chinese medicine there is an oft repeated adage: tong zi bu tong, zi tong, bu tong. Tong means pain, and the adage translates thus: where there is pain there is stagnation [or lack of free flow - of qi and blood] where there is stagnation there is pain. In other words, when qi and blood do not move freely, pain results. (Qi broadly refers to life energy.) In Chinese medicine, the practitioner then must determine where the stagnation is located in the body (this would usually refer to the site of pain: one must determine which acupuncture meridians or channels are involved) and what has caused the qi and blood to stagnate. Generally we are looking for a physical cause of the stagnation, although emotions can also cause stagnation.

As a Daoist priest, Jeffery interprets pain as indicating that a person is emotionally, mentally or spiritually stuck. This mental/emotional/spiritual stoppage causes a physical stagnation in the body, manifesting as somatic pain. Here we are referring more to a long-term or chronic pain, rather than an acute injury. So those suffering from chronic pain might want to look at their inner life and well being to find blockages. This could be marital strife, job dissatisfaction, inability to reach one's life goals: any number of life issues where one is not moving forward in the desired direction.

Jeffery notes that the more one focuses on the pain, the more one enhances the illness: one focused on the terrible receives the terrible. This is the law of attraction: like attracts like. He further observes that it is painful to change our lives, and that it is painful to surrender.

He says pain likes to spread. Pain likes misery. Pain likes to refer (to other areas, such as sciatic pain that shoots down the leg or pain from a heart attack that presents as an achy sensation in the left arm). He says that pain does not like to be alone: it wants family to resolve the problem for you. He asks, " Can one resolve the pain [or the emotional/spiritual source of the pain] themselves?"

He discusses the significance of different qualities of pain:

  1. Rigidity: Indicates withdrawal from life, moving away from life or the enthusiasm.
  2. Cold (pain that is worse in cold weather, feels better with a hot pad, shower or bath): indicates retreat, apathy.
He goes on to say that healing requires hope and perseverance to bring meaning into one's life.

He says that it is not up to the practitioner to command change, but rather to be a catalyst to help the patient change.

You may have noticed the red Chinese character by my blog title: "Kath's Musings on Health, Chinese Medicine & Spirituality". This character is ying, which means guide. I chose it as a symbol of a couple of ideas that are relevant here:
  1. In Chinese medicine we use the term guide, as in guide out stagnation, or guide out phlegm fluids. By this we mean that we are helping the stagnation or phlegm to move out, showing the way, in a physical sense.
  2. In a more spiritual sense, the practitioner is guiding the patient on a course of healing, lighting the path out of the darkness.
These two ideas express how I see my role as a practitioner; both in treating the physical body and as an agent for emotional/spiritual growth, where ultimately all healing takes place. But it is not up to me to force it, my role is to point the way so that the body, mind and spirit can find it's course. KB

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Going Green Can Pay Off $

I noticed this item on Suze Orman's website about tax credits available to homeowners who green their homes: making upgrades such as adding insulation, going solar, and putting on a metal roof. Thought you might find it of interest. KB

Green Tax Savings: $500 Energy Tax Credits for Upgrade to Your Primary Residence

Certain eco-friendly upgrades to your home can qualify for federal tax credits through the end of this year. A credit is much more valuable to you than a standard tax deduction. A credit is a dollar for dollar reduction in your tax bill. A deduction’s value is based on your marginal tax bracket. For example, a $500 tax credit reduces your taxable income by $500. A $500 tax deduction for someone in the highest income tax bracket of 35% is only worth $175 ($500 x .35)

The maximum lifetime energy credit you can claim for upgrades to your primary residence is $500 total. Among the energy-efficient upgrades that qualify for the credit are:

  • New windows, storm windows, sky lights: credit on 10% of the cost up to $200 total for all windows.
  • New Exterior doors: credit on 10% of the cost up to $500.
  • Metal roofs: 10% of the cost up to $500.
  • Insulation. Credit on 10% of the cost up to $500.
  • Central air/heating: $300 credit.
  • New Furnace: $150.
  • Geo-Thermal Heat Pump: $300.
  • New Water Heater: $300
You must complete IRS Form 5695 to claim a Residential Energy Credit. To access the form click here.

If you are building a new home, you do not qualify for the tax credits for windows, doors, insulation, roofs or HVAC & non-solar water heaters. However, the tax credit for photovoltaics, solar water heating, and fuel cells is available for homeowners building new homes.

Other Tax Credits Beyond the $500 Home Improvement Cap
  • Efficient Cars Tax credits are available to buyers of hybrid gasoline-electric, diesel, battery-electric, alternative fuel, and fuel cell vehicles. These credits are available for vehicles placed in service after 12-31-05 and purchased on or before 12-31-10. Click here for more information on the eligible vehicles and the credit amount.
  • Solar Energy Systems Tax credits are available for qualified solar water heating and photovoltaic systems. The credits are available for systems “placed in service” from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2008. The tax credit is for 30% of the cost of the system, up to $2,000. This credit is not limited to the $500 home improvement cap.
  • Fuel Cells There is a consumer tax credit of up to 30% of the cost (up to $500 per 0.5 kW of capacity maximum) for installing a “qualified” fuel cell and microturbine systems. The credits are available for systems “placed in service” from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2008. This credit is not limited to the $500 home improvement cap.