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.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An Eloquent TDay Message Reaches From the Past

This eloquent Thanksgiving Day Proclamation was issued by Gov. Wilbur L Cross of CT in 1936. The Governor's words reach across time to speak to our modern hearts. it begins:

Time out of mind at this turn of the seasons when the hardy oak leaves rustle in the wind and the frost gives a tang to the air and the dusk falls early and the friendly evenings lengthen under the heel of Orion, it has seemed good to our people to join together in praising the Creator and Preserver, who has brought us by a way that we did not know to the end of another year.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Studies Demonstrate Acupuncture Significantly Reduces Insomnia

In 2007, Kalavapalli and  Singareddy published a review of studies of acupuncture for the treatment of insomnia in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. The selected studies included many clinical case series and few open or randomized clinical trials. The authors noted that "all of them consistently indicate significant improvement in insomnia with acupuncture"

 There are so many Americans who are on sleeping medications needlessly. I see wonderful results treating insomnia in my practice, as this article describes. I use a winning combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy.                   KB


 Photo: RelaxingMusic, Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Stress & Anxiety is Caused by the Drive to Avoid Suffering

The first of the Four Noble Truths given by Sakyamuni Buddha is that life involves suffering. it is our wish, our strong desire, our struggle to avoid suffering that is the root cause of stress and anxiety. Buddhism fundamentally teaches to accept suffering as part of the condition of living. if we can accept the truth of suffering as part of living, then the struggle to prevent suffering diminishes.

of course we have goals in life and we do what we can to achieve them. the struggle against obstructions in our path to achieve our goals causes stress and anxiety due to fear of the suffering involved in not achieving our goals. if we can accept that suffering is part of life, then the stress and anxiety involved in the struggle to prevent this suffering from occurring diminishes.

Sakyamuni Buddha taught that the acceptance of suffering as a noble truth of the condition of living is fundamental to the path of enlightenment. if we can accept that life involves suffering, then when we are confronted with suffering in our lives our inner struggle against it diminishes. we still do what we can to achieve peace and happiness and freedom from suffering for all living beings (which includes ourselves) but we are able to accept the suffering that arises in our lives as a natural course of life. this acceptance of suffering as a natural condition of living decreases stress and anxiety.

the Dalai Lama emphasizes in the book "The Art of Happiness" that adversity is necessary for spiritual development. Mark Howard, MD, elaborates (p181) that if we continually stay in the cocoon of infancy: being coddled, fed soft food and so on, there is no impetus for spiritual growth. the Dalia Lama asserts that the adversity, negative emotions such as anger, hatred, resentment and so on provides the shenpa or the hook. in recognizing shenpa while it is occurring, we are thankful for the opportunity presented for emotional and spiritual growth.
(pp178-9) the struggle with avoiding suffering provides the motivation for spiritual growth to occur. emotional and spiritual growth is essential in order to transcend suffering.
so, the Dalai Lama says, we should thank our enemies and the suffering that arises in our lives for the opportunity that comes with it for emotional and spiritual growth. without the shenpa, we will stay wrapped up in our cozy cocoon. while that seems warm, pleasurable and inviting, there we are in a place of emotional and spiritual stagnation. no transformation can occur in that place.

so by accepting that suffering is part of the condition of living, when we are confronted with situations having the potential to cause suffering, we acknowledge that we are going to face suffering in our lives, and this may be one of those instances. that acceptance diminishes the inherent struggle against suffering, thereby decreasing stress and anxiety in our mind. we still try to chart a different course, but with the necessity of avoidance of suffering negated, we preform our actions with the peace of mind that we are getting by as best we can. that suffering may occur. we cannot prevent all suffering from occurring in our lives, and that suffering is necessary for emotional and spiritual growth. thereby we accept our situation with grace, dignity and peace. KB

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Traditional Chinese Medicine Solution to Flu Prevention

The NY Times reported saturday on the difficulties in developing antibiotics to treat the antibiotic resistant super-viruses which have become common in recent years, causing a serious public health issue. The US is considering subsidies to the pharmaceutical companies to encourage future development. Antibiotics are not typically profitable for the pharmaceutical companies in comparison to drugs for chronic diseases like diabetes, allergies, or HIV. the reason for the lower profit is that antibiotics are only taken for a couple of weeks at which time the disease is cured. Chronic conditions such as high cholesterol, blood sugar disorders, thyroid problems or MS, require lifelong drug therapy as the drugs do not provide a cure. Therefore it is profitable for the pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs to treat these type of disorders. Because of the drug resistant super-viruses, & because flu viruses frequently vary, antibiotics must be changed year to year, so it is more difficult for the pharmaceutical companies to recoup the cost of research and development.

All of this means fewer drugs available to treat flus. So what is one's best strategy for fighting the flu? Prevention.

Prevention means staying healthy. Keeping your body in optimal condition so that the immune system is strong and can prevent the virus from gaining the advantage in the fight. The TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) strategy for wellness highlights preventative care and intervening early, before disease takes hold. In contrast, the western health care model dominate in our country does not stress prevention. Rather, doctors wait for disease to get fairly advanced before commencing treatment. While TCM effectively treats both acute and chronic disease, this distinction in emphasis on preventative care is one of the many important differences between the two diametrically opposed systems.

Prevention includes the basics of eating nutritious food (3 balanced meals/day) getting optimal rest (minimum of 8 hours of sleep) and exercising regularly (several times/week) to keep the body strong. A good percentage of Americans are not emphasizing these basics, especially in this deep recession where we find ourselves running faster and faster on the rat wheel to keep from falling farther behind.

Living a healthy lifestyle takes effort and prioritizing. It is imperative for maintaining health and disease prevention. With the cost of health care skyrocketing in this country, it also makes economic sense to protect one's health as disease treatment is becoming more and more expensive, and insurance companies are covering less and less of the costs.

In addition to the basics of healthy diet, sleep and exercise, other aspects of a healthy lifestyle must be incorporated for disease prevention. Stress reduction is a key factor. Stress is well known to cause illness. One of the first questions i ask patients with acute symptoms of any condition is has your stress level increased recently? after years of experience, i have learned that in over 60% of cases increased stress positively correlates with the onset or exacerbation of any health problem, including neck or back pain, headache, high blood pressure, stomach problems (i can't stomach this situation) MS, chronic illness, colds and flu, and so on.

There are many articles in my blog and on the resources page of my website discussing stress reduction. Briefly this involves identifying and eliminating stressors from your life and implementing stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, qi gong & incorporating quiet time to your life so to help you deal with the life stressors that cannot be eliminated.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy are helpful in calming the mind so that you are more able to deal with life stress. Acupuncture releases endorphins, the feel good chemicals responsible for the runner's high. Acupuncture and herbs reduce irritability, depression, worrying and treat insomnia, all of which weaken the immune system, causing disease to take hold in the body.

Acu/herbal therapy strengthens the immune system, so it can fight off illness. TCM is effective in treating most health problems, including colds and flu. My patients are continually surprised at how quickly TCM methods eliminate colds and flu, or reduce the symptoms so that recuperation comes easier.

So the TCM solution to addressing super-viruses is three-fold. First: living a healthy lifestyle to stay strong so that a virus would have difficulty overtaking you. I haven't looked at the CDC stats on who dies from super viruses, but i'm sure i can postulate that it is the elderly, weak and infirm in much higher numbers that healthy adults. Being healthy is your number one defense against disease.

Second: integrating preventative care techniques. Regular acupuncture treatments keep the body and immune system strong. This might mean monthly treatments during flu season, and 4-6 weeks intervals at other times of the year. There is an oft used herbal formula to strengthen the immune system and prevent the onset of colds, flu and allergy symptoms called Jade Windscreen. Jade refers to something precious (this effective herbal formula) and windscreen means screening out allergens and germs from entering the body. This formula can be taken long-term, from fall to spring, for allergy or cold and flu prevention.

Other preventative care techniques include stress management activities such as tai qi, qi gong, meditation, yoga, acupuncture and Chinese herbs in addition to eliminating stressors from your life.

Thirdly, beginning acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy to treat the disease as soon as it strikes and to help the immune system win the battle against the viral onslaught. KB