Weight Loss: Part I

Weight Waist

I often have people ask me about weight loss. The first thing that seems to disappoint people is following fact:

There is no magic pill that provides instant weight loss!

 

Well, doesn’t that just suck? In fact, most of the recommendations I have for weight loss are of a self-help nature which puts the burden of following through squarely on the shoulders of the individual. My part comes in determining whether or not an internal imbalance exists that is a contributing factor to weight gain and moderating that imbalance with bodywork and nutritional therapy. That… I can do.

Otherwise, there are some simple key factors in maintaining an ideal body weight. The first, is so simple it will blow your mind.

Chew your food!

Chewing your food well helps your body create the necessary enzymes to begin the digestive process. The less your organs have to struggle with the digestive process, the more benefit for you. Eating in a rush is something everybody does in our fast paced society. It is worth the time to take a few extra minutes to perform this vital step. It is the first self-help step in keeping off the pounds.

Our Salivary Glands are able to produce 1 to 2 liters of saliva every day. Saliva consists mainly of water, a mucousal antibacterial broker and digestive support enzyme, the main functions of which are:

1.  Helps dissolve dry food making it easier to chew.

2. Lubrication, that makes food slide easily through esophagus.

3. Hygiene. Saliva helps decrease bacteria population, then it keeps mouth clean and helps alleviate bad breath.

The digestive process begins in mouth when we chew and swallow. Once we swallow  chemical breakdown occurs in the stomach and is completed in the small intestine. Digestion becomes involuntary and proceeds under the control of the nerves.

Food stays in our stomach a period of time but not all food has the same reaction with gastric juices. Certain foods, meat for example, require more time to be liquefied by gastric juices. These foods must be chewed longer in order to become fully digested and the nutrients absorbed through the intestinal walls.

By eating fast and not chewing enough what you are doing is:

  • Forcing your stomach and intestines to work harder and prolonging the time required to digest food.
  • Encouraging constipation.
  • Decreasing enzymes crucial for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.
  • Contributing to digestive discomfort (burping, bloating, and flatulence).

By slowing to take the time to chew your food you are:

  • Starting a good chemical process that separates good substances from toxic ones by mixing salivary enzymes with food.
  • Fullness feeling is achieved faster, therefore this can be beneficial to you if you want fitness.
  • You will enjoy the taste of one of the pleasures of life.

So… how much do we chew our food?

The average recommended many years ago was 32 times. That’s still a good general rule. When it comes to meat, it shouldn’t be less than that. If you don’t want to count, chew until your food has sufficient texture to swallow easily.

We must slow down and eat purposefully keeping in mind that eating is a process and we must perform the first step in a proper manner. During subsequent processes the digestive system will autonomously absorb nutrients to provide the energy that our body needs.

Slow down! Experience each meal. Use all of your senses to be delighted by food. Allow your eyes to absorb the cornucopia of colors from a bowl of fresh fruits or vegetables. Inhale the fabulous aroma of an exquisitely prepared sauce. Bask in the sweet flavor of a favorite dessert and exhalt the sounds your teeth make as they masterfully masticate your most delectible desire.

Chewing helps… Makes You Feel Full Faster

When you take the time to properly chew your food, you will eat slower, and far less, but still feel full after your meal. Eating slower gives your brain time to register that you are eating, and therefore it is able to send a signal that you are full when you have eaten enough. You usually have to be about 20 minutes into the meal before your brain is able to send this signal.

Chewing Helps… Absorb Nutrients

Digestion begins in the mouth as soon as the food is exposed to saliva. The longer you chew your foods, the more the food will be exposed to saliva, and as a result more nutrients will be absorbed. This is especially true for nuts and seeds as well as fruits and vegetables, as they contain hard cellulose fibers which cannot be broken down anywhere but in the mouth. This is why when you eat nuts, corn or other vegetables they just seem to pass through your system if they are not properly chewed.

When your body is able to absorb all the nutrients from the foods that you eat you will have higher energy levels. On top of that, no energy will be wasted on eliminating foods that the body cannot digest or break down. (Sleepiness after meals)

Chewing Helps… Prevent Heartburn

Properly chewing your food helps to make it easier on the esophagus, as well as your digestive system because you will eat less at each meal. It prevents you from swallowing air along with your food, which can also contribute to sensations that resemble heartburn. Chewing properly promotes the secretion of saliva which naturally helps to neutralize stomach acid and prevent heartburn.

Chewing Helps… Digestion

Carbohydrates are mainly digested in the mouth by the alpha amylase enzyme that is found in saliva. The digestion of fat is also started in the mouth by the lingual lipase enzymes, which are produced by the salivary glands located underneath the tongue.

Food that is not properly chewed is not exposed to these enzymes properly, but instead is passed along into the colon in chunks where it feeds harmful bacteria. This can result in gas, bloating, abdominal cramping, constipation and other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Chewing Helps… Promote Good Oral Hygiene

The saliva that is produced by the extra chewing helps to kill harmful bacteria, and washes away food particles from around your teeth. Additionally, saliva contains hydrogen carbonate which helps to neutralize plaque buildup which can cause bad breath.

 

Chinese Medicine for Bunions

“Can Asian Bodywork Therapy and Chinese Medicine help my bunions?”

I often get asked how Asian Bodywork Therapy and Chinese Medicine can help a condition that surgery has been recommended for. Bunions and hernias are two common examples.  Let’s discuss bunions from a Chinese Medicine point of view.

Many people struggle to make associations between the foundations of Chinese Medicine and Western medical principles as they have come to be understood. The easiest read on the subject is Between Heaven and Earth by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold. Chinese Medicine originated thousands of years ago. No x-rays. No blood tests. It’s “Duh!” simplistic in theory, but it works.

Chinese Medicine Cause of Bunions 

From a Chinese Medicine point of view my definition of a bunion is as follows:

A “bunion” is a localized area of pain, swelling, redness on the foot directly resulting from the combination of: a deviation of the big toe (or any toe) possibly involving other structural deformities of the foot due to a weakness of muscle and connective tissue caused by a deficiency related to the Spleen organ and wearing improperly fitting shoes.

All muscles  including the muscles that hold the bones of the foot in place may weaken due to the inability of the Spleen to properly nourish the muscles. Due to this deficiency the arches fall and the toes begin to “spread out”. As the toes  spread out they become “molded” by the shoes. The lack of circulation and irritation in the affected area results in a bunion. The described deformity of the foot can occur over such a long period of time that it is not noticable until it is causing frequent pain. At that point, it is most important to wear properly fitting shoes.

A function of the Spleen in Chinese Medicine is to nourish the muscle and tissues that “hold things up and in place”. In these terms, it means that the Spleen is responsible for preventing the weakness of muscle and tissues that cause typically result in hernias, hemorrhoids, prolapsed uterus or bladder, rectal prolapse and varicose veins. So, if you have bunions you may have an imbalance that can cause other problems. Some of the symptoms might include extreme sleepiness after meals, heaviness and lethargy, easy bruising, loose stools, gassy and bloated feeling after eating, other digestive problems.

Often Spleen Qi deficiency is seen in combination with an imbalance specifically related to a deficiency of the Kidneys. So, it is not uncommon for bunions to accompany kidney stones or diabetes.

Qi & Blood

First, for the purposes of this discussion, “Qi”, pronounced “chee”, refers to the “vital energy” in all living things. In a healthy body Qi flows harmoniously and influences the smooth and even distribution of Blood. Obstructions to the flow of either are seen as a cause of illness.

Secondly, “Blood” spelled with a capital “B”, is the closest and most commonly used word to describe all of the liquids of the body in Chinese Medicine. The capitalized term is meant to distinguish between the blood of the circulatory system and all other vital fluids.

Human beings have an ideal operating temperature. If the body is too cold the movement of Qi and Blood will be sluggish. If the body is too hot in areas Qi and Blood will congeal causing disruptions to proper flow. The therapeutic measure of “moving Qi and Blood” in the area of the bunion and in the affected organs simultaneously removes blockages, dissipates heat accumulations, and restores healthy bodily functions. Similarly,circulating coolant in your car’s cooling system keeps the entire engine running properly at an ideal temperature. When the coolant in your car is not circulating properly or is of insufficient quantity, other parts of the engine overheat causing the oil to congeal and burn creating friction and even more heat eventually resulting in engine failure. Conversely, when an engine is cold not all components are functioning at their peak. The same thing happens physiologically to people.  

Yin and Yang

Chinese Medicine dictates that there is a law governing opposing forces that exists in every aspect of nature. This concept is referred to as Yin and Yang. “Yin” could be described as dark, passive, downward, cold, contracting and weak. “Yang” is said to represent bright, active, upward, hot, expansive and strong. That being said, the type of deficiency leading to bunions creates an excess elsewhere in the body and can manifest as either a Yin or Yang condition with Yin or Yang symptoms.

As a result of Spleen Qi deficiency, Blood cannot circulate properly to the extremities and provide nourishment to muscles and tendons. We can look at the emerging symptoms in terms of Yin and Yang or, deficiency and excess.

A Yin aspect can be seen as lack of proper nourishment leads to weakness in the muscles and tendons of the foot and may present as pronation, fallen arches or plantar fasciitis. This weakness in the muscles and tendons of the foot can lead to a variety of foot deformities including those responsible for the formation of bunions.

An Yang type set of symptoms (acute redness, localized heat, swelling, pain) could be characterized in Western medical terms as gout. Limited circulation of Blood allows mineral deposits to accumulate in the lower extremities the same way that silt settles to a river bottom. Over time deposits of calcium and other minerals can become hard causing sharp pain and limiting movement of joints.

My Personal Therapeutic Recommendations for Bunions

This combination of therapies is what I recommend because I’ve tried other ways and this is what I’ve found to be the most effective… so far.

Moxibustion. Moxa in stick form is applied to the Spleen meridian of both feet and ankles for at least 1 hour paying extra attention to an acupuncture point known as Spleen 3. What is moxa?  Google “moxibustion”.  Moxa is one of the best therapies for bunions. Its warming action “activates” the affected channel, in this case the Spleen channel, by initiating the movement of stagnant Blood and Qi in the local area and stimulating Spleen function.

Asian Bodywork Therapy. In combination with other therapies, expert manual manipulation serves to restore proper circulation and placement of the toes while improving flexibility and range of motion. Certain techniques can be employed to separate muscle fibers to permit nourishing fluids to permeate areas where blood flow has become restricted due to poor circulation. Cumulative deposits of minerals which may impede movement and cause sharp pain can be located easily, gently disintegrated and reincorporated into the circulatory system and properly eliminated with the help of recommended adjunct therapies. Amount of daily water intake is increased as part of a regimen to assist in removing this “waste” material from the body.

An effective therapy session takes about 2 hours.

Topical herbs. I recommend application of one of my specially made liniments (Tiger Tooth) to strongly move Qi and Blood to reduce pain and inflammation.  My liniment works immediately to alleviate pain and prolonged and proper use has profound healing effects for all injuries.  Other formulas are mentioned in many articles. They do not work nearly as well.

Diet and Internal herbs. Occasionally, I will recommend a few dietary changes. I can help isolate which foods may be contributing to a problem in individual cases, and determine foods that will benefit recovery. Cold foods, raw foods and processed sugar are BAD for the Spleen. Additionally, I may recommend Chinese herbs as a supplement to one’s diet to reinforce the benefits of other therapeutic methods. I provide these supplements in pill form because they are the most convenient to take.

Orthotics

What I’ve seen used the most are cushions of various kinds and a myriad of “splinting” devices and arch supports to temporarily make the situation less painful. These devices certainly help lessen pain between Asian Bodywork Therapy sessions and contribute to the long term therapeutic effect.

A foot specialist can determine if other deformities are prevalent and provide appropriate advice. For assistance in orthotic selection I recommend you see a certified pedorthist. In San Antonio, Texas I recommend a consultation with a pedorthist at Foot Solutions.

“What Else Can I Do?”

1.)    Drink more water- the best quality water available. Water is essential in cleansing waste material from the body. If you don’t drink enough water waste material has a tendency to accumulate in the body. Eight 8oz. glasses per day is a good general guideline.

2.)    Wear properly fitting shoes. Have your feet properly measured if it hasn’t been done recently. Children’s feet should be measured frequently to prevent future foot problems. Arch supports can help prevent the falling of arches that can progress to form bunions.

3.)    Be proactive about taking care of your feet. Inspect your feet on a regular basis especially if you’re predisposed to foot problems. Immediately address any abnormalities.

Don’t wait until you have something that looks like this!

4.)    Don’t ever put ice on bunions. The application of ice to an injury directly opposes the natural healing process. Ice impedes circulation which prevents healing. Ask me about my Tiger Tooth Liniment.

“Does Chinese Medicine therapy completely cure bunions?”

The theory behind the therapy is sound and I’ve seen significant relief in as little as one session. After the first two sessions at Sacred Healing Tree and advice on home care, many people are so relieved they feel that ongoing sessions are not necessary and surgery can be avoided. Even if complicated by arthritis or other complaints, Chinese Medicine is a viable alternative to surgery for bunions.

Chinese Medicine for Osteoporosis

Western Medical Explanation

“Osteoporosis” is the medical term used to describe reduced bone density and degeneration of bone microstructure. Osteoporosis does not necessarily exhibit specific symptoms but renders the body at a much higher risk of bone fractures due to poor bone structure. 

Simply put, osteoporosis is the result of an imbalance between bone resorption and bone formation. In the body, bone undergoes a constant turnover in which osteoclast cells remove its mineralized matrix and osteoblast cells deposit new bone. As we age, bone resorption can become more dominant over bone formation and lead to bone loss.

Chinese Medicine Explanation

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), bones are governed by the Kidneys, a primary source of essence of life and of the Yin and Yang energies. Thus, a strong Kidney function provides ample nutrients that promote the formation of strong bones. When the Kidney function is weakened bone loss occurs faster than bone formation. Prolonged or severe Kidney weakness is the cause for osteoporosis.

What your prescribed medications do?

There are two types of osteoporosis drugs. The majority are Biphosphonate drugs, like Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva.

These drugs work by inhibiting natural healing processes.

Ordinarily, osteoclasts are supposed to resorb old, infirm bone and osteoblasts deposit new bone in a continuous process. So when you take these medications, your bones may not lose density, but they will be composed of a higher amount of old, poor quality bone cells which makes them brittle and weak over time. Spontaneous fractures of the hip and jaw are common  results because the bones are no longer properly nourished.

Biphosphonate drugs do not increase bone density. These drugs actually create weak bones. Do your own research! You’ll find this is true.

One drug called Forteo was developed that worked not by turning off the creation of osteoclasts so that bone cells weren’t resorbed into the body, but worked by increasing the activity of the osteoblasts to lay down more bone. Test results proved it causes bone cancer in rats but it was still approved for short term use in humans.

Some prescription drugs block the absorption of calcium into the bones leading to osteoporosis. Prednisone and other steroids do this. They are commonly used to treat autoimmune, asthma, and inflammatory diseases.

The anti-coagulant Warfarin, also known as Coumadin, works by inhibiting vitamin K production. It is often prescribed for reducing high blood pressure, to keep blood flowing where there are obstructions of the arteries. One role of vitamin K is to take calcium in the blood and to direct it to the bones. When vitamin K is turned off, less than adequate calcium may be directed to build healthy bone.

Factoid: Warfarin was originally marketed in the early 1950’s as a pesticide to kill rats.  

What does Chinese Medicine do?

Strengthening the Kidney function is considered to be a key principle in TCM to treat osteoporosis. As a result of enhanced Kidney function, the process of continuous bone nourishment can occur naturally and reverse osteoporosis. Although it has yet to be proven by modern biomedical studies, Chinese herbal formulas that follow the principle have shown satisfactory results in stopping bone loss and increasing bone mass in clinical studies in China. (I encourage you to find this information on your own if you’re interested.) The reason I have not provided specific information because there are many variables to these studies (different formulas, different ingredients, different dosages, unique individual variances).

Ultimately, there’s no single, most effective Chinese herbal therapy. There are many different herbal formulas available comprised of multiple herbs with specific functions tailored to individual needs. Addressing the “root” of the problem (Kidneys) is the key to reversing osteoporosis and therapy can be approached from different angles with the same goal in mind.

Sacred Healing Tree

12402 Toepperwein Road

Live Oak, Texas 78233

(512) 351-0021

Auricular Magnet Therapy for Addiction

Chinese Medicine theory suggests that energy (qi) travels throughout the body on a system of pathways called meridians. Meridians converge in the ear to form a microcosmic representation of the entire body. As such, any part of the body can be influenced by manipulating specific points on the ear. The specialization of applying acupuncture needles to the ear is called “auricular acupuncture”.

Where auricular acupuncture uses needles, Auricular Magnet Therapy uses tiny magnets to stimulate acupuncture points in the ear. The Auricular Magnet Therapy for Addiction calls for the use of six points specifically chosen for historical clinical effectiveness in balancing key areas associated with addiction.

It takes less time than acupuncture. It’s safer. It’s painless.  Magnets can be retained for several days at a time. Points can be self stimulated as needed. The administration of this therapy can be easily learned.

The Auricular Magnet Therapyfor Addiction

 Magnet Therapy for Addiction

  • Six designated points in the outer ear
    • Shenmen
    • Sympathetic
    • Kidney
    • Liver
    • Lung
    • Point Zero
  • Points are effective regardless of diagnosis
  • Protocol is not modified or added to

 The Magnets

  • Single use
  • Sterile
  • 24k Gold plated
  • Painless application
  • Removable at home
  • Proper application takes only a few minutes. No need to sit for a long period until professionally removed (like with needles).

 Types of Addictions Treated

  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Drugs
  • Overeating
  • Gambling

Is Auricular Magnet Therapy a cure?

  • Desire to quit and willingness accept help
  • Works best as an adjunct therapy
    • Counseling
    • Education
    • Family involvement
    • Lifestyle changes
    • Support group

Other Effects

  • Improved program participation and retention
  • Reductions in cravings, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and other withdrawal symptoms
  • Reduced need for pharmaceuticals
  • Very low cost
  • Safe without negative side effects
  • Gives a general sense of well-being and stability

Tiger Tooth Liniment for Arthritis

Arthritis

Expanding on a line of natural health care products prepared locally, Tiger Tooth Liniment Company is unveiling  a topical liniment specifically for arthritis pain.

This formulation, like all forthcoming Tiger Tooth products, has been meticulously produced and thoroughly evaluated for effectiveness, ease of use, and aesthetic properties. The Arthritis Formula contains many of the same potent ingredients as the Tiger Tooth: Signature Formula but has been crafted to stand out above all similar products.

  • All natural
  • Alleviates pain quickly
  • No unpleasant smell

There was no cutting corners; no compromises made to spare expense in the preparation of this product. Tiger Tooth Liniment for Arthritis is indeed all natural. The base is grain alcohol- as opposed to the isopropyl alcohol most companies use to manufacture topical liniments inexpensively. Herbs are acquired from FDA approved sources. The creation process of all Tiger Tooth products combines time proven wisdom with modern technological prosesses to deliver exceptionally highly concentrated herbal products. Tiger Tooth: Arthritis incorporates the finest essential oil of lavender available; soothingly aromatic and leaving a fresh, silky finish on the skin.

Regular application as directed can have a profound impact on arthritis pain however, having your particular condition assessed by a pracitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine is highly recommended to address the root cause.

Tiger Tooth products are currently available at: Sacred Healing Tree and the Good Stuff store.

Colds, Allergies, Bronchitis, Asthma, Pneumonia and Upper Respiratory Infections

Sneeze

You don’t have to suffer from symptoms, take allergy test and shots, or consume medications on a long term basis. There’s a very simple explanation of these ailments and an even simpler solution; Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medical diagnosis can determine a cause specific to the individual and a very specific treatment directed at resolving the root cause the afflication.

An experienced practitioner of Chinese Medicine can identify the root cause of any condition. This root cause is a temporary imbalance in normal body functions and may be described as acute or chronic. According to one’s own inherent strengths and weaknesses (constitution) certain people are predisposed to coming down with specific ailments. In any case, bodywork and herbal therapies provide a safe, effective, cost-efficient alternative to modern medicine.

According to Chinese Medicine, the Lungs and Spleen comprise a substantial working portion of what is referred to as the “immune system” in modern medicine. These organs are the last to develop in children and their strength is determined early in their stages of development.

In adults the more common taxations on the immune system are stress, exposure to extreme variances in temperature, poor diet, lack of sleep… Often, people choose just to offset the symptoms because they can’t change their circumstances or environment. Easy peasey!

In the case of my own daughter… she was born with exceptionally small lungs and predisposed to illnesses related to the lungs. When she was 5 years old she had strep throat seven times in one year. She was taken to the doctor and prescribed antibiotics each time. That was my wife’s idea. During her seventh doctor’s visit for the same ailment it was recommended that her tonsils and adenoids be removed. My wife deliberated the matter at length and decided against the procedure to remove tonsils and adenoids.

After 90 days of herbal therapy she has only had strep once in 7 years subsequent to her last day of herbal treatment. The cost… about $100. That’s less than the co-pays for all the doctors visits and medication, not to mention time off work, and- NO SURGERIES! Heck of a deal! Don’t you think?

So, whether you suffer from allergic rhinitis or viral/bacterial pneumonia, schedule an appointment and let’s get that taken care (for good) so you can get on with your life!

Staying Healthy in Winter

rouge-gorge en hiver

The ancient Chinese believed that human beings should live in harmony with the natural cycles of their environment. Changes in the weather provoke changes in the body. The body requires time to adapt. Difficulty in adapting to weather conditions is often a contributing factor to seasonal illness. With the wind, rain, and snows of winter come the colds, flu, aches, and pains.

Winter is inactive, cold and damp by nature. The cold and darkness of winter cause a natural slowing of the body’s internal processes; a form of hibernation if you will. Everybody wants to instinctively stay under the covers on those cold, blustery winter days.

According to Chinese philosophy winter is ruled by the Water Element, which is associated with the Kidney and Bladder organs. The Kidneys are considered a vital source of all energy within the body. They also store reserve energy to be used in times of stress and change, to heal, prevent illness and age gracefully. Winter is the time of year to reflect on our health, replenish our energy, and conserve our strength in preparation for the burst of new life and growth in the spring.

Winter Foods

The body is conditioned to store fat in the winter in preparation for ideal developmental and growth conditions in the spring. So, wintertime is not the ideal time to begin a weight loss diet. People gain excessive amounts of weight in winter because they do not change their eating habits accordingly. Overindulging is common during the holidays, however, exercising a little restraint goes a long way towards maintaining a balanced health model.

Raw foods, clod foods and heavy, rich foods tax the digestive system more than normal and deplete energy reserves. Avoid raw foods during winter as much as possible.

During winter emphasize the warming foods (like grandma used to tell you).

  • Soups, stews and chili
  • Root vegetables
  • All kinds of beans
  • Spices like garlic, cloves, ginger and cinnamon
  • Teas and other warm drinks

A Few Simple Tips to Stay Healthy This Winter

A few good habits during wintertime can make the transition much less taxing and promote good health throughout.

  • Cover up. Chinese Medicine doctrine dictates that cold  that can lead to illness enters the body from the neck and shoulders so, it is very important the keep your neck and shoulders warm when outdoors. Most body heat escapes through the head. Consider wearing something to cover your head. Do not let parts of your body come in direct contact with cold surfaces. Pathogenic cold can enter the body through direct contact with cold surfaces causing roaming aches and pains that are aggravated by cold temperatures. This particular syndrome is impossible to detect via conventional medical methods and often mistaken for other illnesses.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Getting plenty of sleep (at night) enables your body to conserve energy used for healing and warming the body when exposed to colder climates.
  • Don’t eat too much. Your body’s natural tendency is to store fat in winter. Eating less will prevent excessive weight gain. Eating smaller more frequent meal will help maintain energy levels and moderate blood sugar levels.
  • Reduce stress. As difficult as it may seem, find a simple way to relax and release stress on a daily basis. Meditation or taking a long hot bath… choose your own method. Stress, frustration, and unresolved anger can easily deplete the immune system allowing illness to invade the body more easily.

 

Asian Bodywork Therapy vs. Massage Therapy

Tuina

What’s In a Name?

“Asian Bodywork Therapy” and “Massage Therapy” are indeed two different things. There has been much debate between professionals and professional organizations about what techniques, philosophies and descriptions cross over from one modality to the other and where certain seperations lie.  “Bodywork” is a general term that applies to a vast group of manual manipulation forms.

Asian Bodywork refers specifically to the application of manipulation techniques for the purpose of moving /balancing Qi to maintain or restore health and whose origins stem from Asia. Asian Bodywork Therapy is one of the four branches that comprise Traditional Chinese Medicine. The other three branches are Acupuncture, Medical Qigong, and Chinese Herbal Therapy. Professionally accredited practitioners of Asian forms of manual manipulation refer to their practice as “Asian Bodywork”. Under this broad umbrella are several uniquely individual “forms”.

Asian Bodywork forms officially recognized by the AOBTA are:

Acupressure, Amma, AMMA Therapy, Chi Nei Tsang, Five Element Shiatsu, Integrative Eclectic Shiatsu, Japanese Shiatsu, Jin Shin Do, Bodymind Acupressure, Jin Shou Tuina, Macrobiotic Shiatsu, Medical Qigong, Nuad Bo ‘Rarn (Traditional Thai Bodywork), Shiatsu Anma Therapy, Tuina, Zen Shiatsu

“Massage” is the manipulation of muscle and connective tissue to enhance function, aid in the healing process, and promote relaxation and well-being. Massage therapy forms have many, many names; Swedish Massage, Reflexology, and Rolfing for example. Many other names indicate intended purpose, place of origin or the addition of adjunct therapies covered or not otherwise excluded by the massage therapy scope of practice.

Aromatherapy Massage, Chair Massage, Deep Tissue massage, Equine Massage, Fijian Massage, Hot Stone Massage, Sports Massage

Certain establishments advertise “Asian massage” or ”Oriental massage”. These terms are misnomers or perhaps even a deliberate attempt to mislead consumers. These inferences to therapeutic bodywork are often NOT massage or Asian Bodywork establishments as defined by the Texas Department of State Health Services. They may, in fact, be one of the many establishments that engage in activities of a sexual nature that specifically use these terms to cloak illegal enterprises that legitimate bodywork professionals do not want to be associated with.

Requirements to Practice Asian Bodywork Therapy or Massage (In Texas)

The Department of State Health Services has set forth the requirements to practice bodywork in the state of Texas.

Asian Bodywork Therapists are excluded from any license requirement (in Texas) but, must meet minimum education requirements and hold a certification from American Organization of Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA) or Asian Bodywork diploma from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

Massage therapists must meet minimum education requirements, pass an exam administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSTMB) or the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCTMB) and are required to have a State issued license.

How to Tell the Difference According to Terminology

Buzz words are an indicator. They tell you something about the person you are listening to. Buzz words can tell you whether or not you are listening to a trained professional Asian Bodywork Therapist or Massage Therapist.

There are always new buzz words with ties to massage – “myofascial release”,” cranio sacral”, “trigger points”, “ lymphatic drainage” are a few of the newer ones. The terms are too many to list and are constantly changing. New terms are typically added to specify techniques or generate renewed interest in the art by redefining or remodeling to accommodate the needs of consumers.

Asian Bodywork Therapy originated thousands of years ago and traditional terminology has changed very little. A few of the most commonly used terms in Asian Bodywork are: “Yin”, “Yang”, “balance”, “imbalance”, “qi”, “excess”, and “deficiency”.

The Key Similarity

Massage therapy and Asian Bodywork therapies use techniques of physical manipulation that promote the proper flow of Qi and Blood. Stagnant Qi and Blood are the source of all illness according to Chinese Medicine theory.

The Fundamental Difference

Asian Bodywork Therapists are specifically trained to ascertain areas of energetic imbalance that are the root cause of illness according to Chinese Medicine theory and provide specific therapies to bring about the balance necessary to restore health. Asian Bodywork Therapists are trained to assess and provide specific therapy for internal disorders even if the disorders are undetectable or undefined in Western medical terms by moderating and balancing energy (qi) flow.

Massage therapists are not specifically trained to assess or address the root cause of systemic illness in a direct manner.

Changing Times

Massage related therapies are routinely adapted and modified to fit the demands and changes in thinking associated with current times. That’s why there are so many massage forms. In fact, modern day massage has roots in the Orient that go back more than 5,000 years.

Asian Bodywork principles have changed very little over the centuries.  There have been very few changes because the theory and correct application of techniques has remained sound over many centuries and is still effective in this day and age. But, now is the time to make necessary changes to accommodate modern health concerns and evolve Asian Bodywork Therapy to a higher level.

Cultural changes over the centuries, modern thinking and the demand for clear and concise alternative therapy options warrants the development and implementation of legitimately revised forms of Asian Bodywork Therapy. The revisions to these ancient forms should address modern day health concerns and include explanations that reasonably explain how the therapy works. Changes or modifications to traditional techniques should reflect a modern understanding of how the body functions. Technological advances require that practitioners be able to provide clients with the assurance that these therapies that can safely be used in conjunction with modern therapies reflecting an appropriate level of growth and understanding by practitioners and patrons. Just as Summer or Winter cannot last forever, so must the face of Chinese Medicine transform to accommodate the freshness of expansion and growth required to remain viable and effective for centuries to come.

The overwhelming effectiveness of acupuncture has only recently prompted investigation into how principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine work scientifically. The results have inspired a new found respect for the usefulness of ancient healing arts. However, there remains an element of unidentified origins which lends an air of mystery to the effective application of Asian Bodywork Therapy. Society is only now beginning to reach with some degree of blind faith towards alternative forms of healing because of growing disdain for the modern medical establishment and the stories of those who have had miraculous healing experiences with alternative forms of therapy.

Fibromyalgia: A Chinese Medicine Point of View

OWIE

Explanation of Fibromyalgia Symptoms According to Chinese Medicine

Fibromyalgia simply isn’t the great mystery doctors make it out to be nor is any other disease. All disease follows a pattern as predicated by the foundations of Chinese Medicine. In fact, there can be many causes of fibromyalgia symptoms which can be accurately assessed and effectively treated by an experienced Chinese Medicine practitioner.

Causes according to Chinese Medicine may include:

  • Blood Deficiency
  • Qi Deficiency
  • Qi and Blood Deficiency
  • Dampness
  • Disharmony of Spleen, Kidney, Heart

These causes may be further influenced by drug use, stress, dietary or other factors.

 

The Truth about Fibromyalgia

Western medicine doctors diagnose fibromyalgia by process of elimination.

“Fibromyalgia” is often diagnosed when no other condition, such as arthritis, can be positively identified by objective medical tests.

The cardinal feature of fibromyalgia is chronic, widespread pain that is not explained by another rheumatic or systemic disorder. Explicit in this definition is the exclusion of other conditions that can present with widespread pain.

Low thyroid levels (hypothyroidism), polymyalgia rheumatica, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme disease, Restless Leg Syndrome, major depression, Myofascial Pain Syndrome can all cause symptoms that may be diagnosed as fibromyalgia.

Symptoms include pain which may appear in several or many areas of the body. The same areas of the body may not be painful all the time and precipitating factors can increase the intensity or frequency of painful episodes. Symptoms may also get worse with fatigue, inactivity, changes in the weather, cold or drafty conditions, overexertion, hormonal fluctuations (such as just before menstruation or during menopause), stress, depression, or other emotional factors.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia may include:

  • Chronic muscle pain, muscle spasms or tightness
  • Moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy
  • Insomnia or waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep
  • Stiffness upon waking or after staying in one position for too long
  • Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing simple mental tasks
  • Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and constipation alternating with diarrhea (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • Tension or migraine headaches
  • Jaw and facial tenderness
  • Sensitivity to one or more of the following: odors, noise, bright lights, medications, certain foods, and cold
  • Feeling anxious or depressed
  • Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet
  • Increase in urinary urgency or frequency (irritable bladder)
  • Reduced tolerance for exercise and muscle pain after exercise
  • A feeling of swelling (without actual swelling) in the hands and feet

 

Western medicine views certain symptoms categorically as “fibromyalgia” symptoms while other symptoms may not have any specific relationship to fibromyalgia making a definitive diagnosis difficult. If the condition is not diagnosed and treated early, symptoms can go on indefinitely, or they may disappear for months and then recur.

Fibromyalgia Pain: A Chinese Medicine Point of View

Quite simply, where there’s pain, there is lack of sufficiently flowing energy (qi) or blood.

Pain is caused by the stagnation of energy or fluids (blood). When flow is restrained or interrupted, pain occurs, alerting us to a problem. Three causes of pain are:

1. Obstruction (The flow of qi or blood becomes blocked in a specific area of the body due to injury, swelling, oversupply.)
2. Constraint (Qi and/or blood can become restricted and fluid flow inhibited due to emotional, or psychological factors.)
3. Deficiency (There is insufficient qi to promote the flow of blood or, there is insufficient blood volume to support all the body’s natural functions.)

Successful treatment for fibromyalgia symptoms requires consultation with a skilled practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). To effectively address fibromyalgia symptoms, the TCM physician must accurately diagnose the root cause of the pain. This is done largely according to by tongue and pulse examination which can provide substantially more information than any blood tests, or MRIs.

Practitioners of Chinese Medicine assess symptoms related to fibromyalgia very differently than Western medical doctors. Fibromyalgia, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, is not a disease, but one or more specific patterns of imbalance, each with very distinct symptoms that can be traced to the dysfunction of specific internal organs. Western doctors, unaware of these patterns, diagnose collective symptoms as “fibromyalgia”.

One specific pattern according to Chinese Medicine is described as “dampness”, or the accumulation of fluids in various parts of the body. If these fluids accumulate in the head, for example, they can cause unclear thinking, a sensation of heaviness, vision problems, or vertigo. Fluids that collect in the muscles and joints can cause pain and stiffness, even to the point of immobility.

Historically, Acupuncture, Asian Bodywork Therapy and Chinese Herbal Therapy have been very successful in eliminating the root causes of fibromyalgia.

Alternative Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Asian Bodywork Connection

qua·le – [kwah-lee, kwey-lee] –noun, plural -li·a [-lee-uh] Philosophy. A sense-datum or feeling having a distinctive quality.

How can anyone adequately describe an experience of a personal nature unless the persons you’re speaking to have an adequate frame of reference with which to relate such an experience?

The symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are a result of a traumatic experience as unique to any individual as the experience itself. Can any drugs or therapies “cure” someone of an experience?

PTSD cannot be categorized as specifically emotional or psychological. The nature of this imbalance is emotional, psychological and pathological. “Pathological” meaning changes occurring in the tissues or organs. Anyone can be susceptible to long term effects resulting from a traumatic experience. Even an infant can suffer a lifetime of physical and psychological effects caused by a single frightening event.

From the aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine, pathological changes resulting in illness are due to imbalances in the collective function of the internal organs. These imbalances may manifest as any combination of emotional, psychological or physical ailments which vary from person to person according to their constitution (a conglomerate of inherent strengths and weaknesses).

According to Chinese Medicine the heart acts as an “Emperor” in a manner of speaking. The heart is responsible for coordinating the functions of all other internal organs (Ministers) and has a profound influence over the conscious and subconscious mind. Each organ has a unique association with specific emotions and bodily functions in addition to a distinct and balanced correlation with various facets contributory to the integrative aspects of a complete and healthy mind.

When one experiences sudden fright, the energy (Qi) allocated to the heart scatters. The resulting feeling of energy trying to return to the heart can best be described as a tingling sensation in the chest. Depending on one’s constitution (inherent strengths or weaknesses) the full amount of scattered energy may not return to the heart. As a result, the Emperor loses the ability to appropriately dictate to the Ministers. Hence, a Dominant Minister, as dictated by one’s constitution, will struggle to subjugate the other organs until the organ becomes depleted. The resulting turmoil as another Dominant Minister struggles to gain control perpetuates a continuous cycle of imbalance affecting all-inclusive aspects of the body. The resulting emotional changes vary to include overwhelming fear, anger, worry, sorrow and confusion. Continuous emotional and psychological turmoil often give rise to physical ailments such as heart problems, digestive disorders, skin disorders, migraines, immune system problems- even cancer.

The organs depicted in the diagram are Yin organs. Each has a mutually paired Yang organ directly influenced by any internal imbalances. Each organ pair has a distinctly related emotion.

PicPTSD

Heart         Small Intestine  (Joy)
Spleen           Stomach     (Worry)
Lung     Large Intestine (Sorrow)
Kidney                Bladder     (Fear)
Liver         Gall Bladder    (Anger)

Improvements to health conditions can be made by positively influencing emotional, psychological or physical aspects of the body. However, since one cannot directly touch the emotions or mind, the physical body is a sensible area to begin therapy.

Asian Bodywork Therapy can help safely restore proper order to the imbalances associated with PTSD and substantially compliments all other therapies. Any effective treatment plan should vary according to each individual’s specific needs at any given time. Chinese Medicine concedes that the body is constantly changing in accordance with outside stimuli. As such, an Asian Bodywork treatment will be different every time.

The definition of Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) as defined by the AOBTA (American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia) is…

“…the treatment of the human body/mind/spirit, including the electromagnetic or energetic field which surrounds, infuses and brings that body to life, by using pressure and/or manipulation. Asian Bodywork is based upon Chinese Medical principles for assessing and evaluating the body’s energetic system. It uses traditional Asian techniques and treatment strategies to primarily affect and balance the energetic system for the purpose of treating the human body, emotions, mind, energy field and spirit for the promotion, maintenance and restoration of health.”

Advantages of ABT:

  • No drugs
  • Non invasive
  • Cost effective
  • Individualized therapy
  • Accurate holistic assessment/ therapy
  • Safe adjunct therapy
  • Self-help inclusive
  • Alleviates related ailments
  • No negative side-effects

* Logical comparisons cannot be made between Western medicine and Chinese medicine diagnoses and therapies. Terminology cannot be adequately equated and basic foundational theories are radically different.