Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Acupuncture Secrets of Tour De France Winner

Eddy and Vincenzo
Friends, we are extremely lucky that Eddy De Smedt, acupuncturist for the 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali and team Astana, has taken the time for an interview. I've asked him questions that I wondered about and I think you will be intrigued by his responses. (with Eddy's permission, there has been some minor edits because his first language is Dutch although his English is excellent)

Jenny: Eddy, What is your background?

Eddy: I have a background in nursing and studied TCM for 5 years in Belgium and China. Now, I am practicing Acupuncture for 12 years in my private practice in Aalst, which is 20 km from the capital Brussels. I started working with athletes after being more educated in sports acupuncture and I see, on regular basis, athletes who are performing in cycling, tennis, motocross and soccer. Having some expertise, I now give workshops concerning sports acupuncture in Belgium at the ICZO.

Jenny: Is it different to work with elite athletes than to work with "normal" people?

Eddy: In preparing athletes (for elite competition), there aren't any big differences from treating a "normal" patient. I hang on to the usual TCM screening to find (or not) energetic disturbances within Yin, Yang, Xue and Qi and adjust. During competition, when there is less time, I focus on recovery, relaxation (pure muscle relaxation if they are tense or psychologically distressed to ease the shen) and complaints of pain.

Concerning treatments when pain is involved, and after a daily briefing with the team doctor and osteopath, I mostly use distal acupuncture treatment (on Ting points and Jing Well), which gives a great result. If the results aren't satisfactory, I re-evaluate and start to treat local acupoints on the involved meridian, xi cleft if tender, ashi points combined with Hegu and Taichong and depending on the condition, integrating electro acupuncture.

*Note from Jenny: For non-acupuncturists, ease the shen means to ease the spirit. Also, a distal treatment means away from the area of pain, so if Vincenzo was experiencing knee pain Eddy would not start by inserting needles into his knee but rather at acupoints away from the painful area. I’m excited to hear he uses this technique because it is one I often employ with great success as well.

Jenny: How did you get involved with the riders from the Tour?

Eddy: I was already working with the Team Doctor, Dr. De Maeseneer in Belgium, where I had referrals of athletes on a regular basis. He engaged me to become a member of the medical staff of team Astana at the end of 2012. Beginning with season 2013, I work 35 to 40 days for the team. I hope my colleagues in acupuncture will find their way to other pro cycling teams.

Jenny: Me Too!

Jenny: What types of assistance did you provide for the bikers?  How did you prepare for supporting them during the race?

Eddy: As I mentioned earlier, the focus of the acupuncture treatments is on recovery, relaxation and pain relief. The exact protocols would take me to much time to explain, but I 'm thinking of giving some courses to explain in detail.

Jenny: Great, please keep us updated on your courses.

Jenny: What are the most common complaints of the Tour cyclists?

Eddy: Generally, the most common complaints that I treat are muscle tension in the lower and upper legs, pain in the lower back, neck and knee problems, quite common for cyclists. I also treat some stomach issues, and every evening before going to bed I treat the athletes with my "relaxation protocol" to promote rest, relaxation and recovery.

Jenny: Did the bikers like acupuncture? Find the treatments helpful?

Eddy: In 2013, when I started with the team, for most of the riders, acupuncture was totally unknown and new. Step by step, and with good communication with the riders, sports club, and medical staff, they soon got used to it and found the treatments helpful. I also wrote a paper concerning sports acupuncture, including its possibilities and mechanisms for riders.

I also needed to be critical of myself. I used ear acupuncture in the beginning, and  although I am convinced of its therapeutic possibilities, I skipped this method because of the discomfort for bikers due to the communication system they already have in the ear. For any treatment, including acupuncture, continuous education and adjustments are necessary.

Jenny: What was your experience treating the cyclists during this world famous race?

Eddy: After already working with the team for two years, I know the riders quite well and vice versa; they know I'm there if they need any help, which gives great satisfaction to my job as an acupuncturist. Now, some weeks after team Astana won the tour the France with Vincenzo Nibali, one of the biggest sports events in the World, I realize that the entire team did something special. I am proud that I was part of that!!

Jenny: You should be proud, quite an accomplishment and I’m sure you worked very hard. Congratulations to you, Vincenzo and Team Astana!

Below is Eddy's contact information and photos of his clinic.

Eddy De Smedt
Private practice and Astana Pro Cycling Team Linthout 35 9300 Aalst, Belgium
+32 (0) 53 700 134

Thursday, August 14, 2014


"Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong." ~ Peter T. McIntyre

Monday, August 11, 2014

Research Shows Acupuncture Is Effective Pain Relief

Research into acupuncture’s ability to reduce pain has shown that it can increase the body's own pain-killing chemicals like endorphins, which are 200 times more potent than morphine.

Not to mention....

*A recent study, from Australia found that acupuncture is as good as drugs for numerous pains such as low back pain, migraines and sprained ankles. This finding comes from a research trial of about 550 patients conducted in 4 Melbourne hospital emergency departments.

*In a 2010 study, acupuncture was shown to stimulate the production of a chemical compound called adenosine, a painkiller your body manufactures naturally when you are injured.

*In 2012, JAMA (Formerly the Archives of Internal Medicine) reported on a huge meta-analysis of acupuncture studies. This review was led by Andrew Vickers. Ph.D., a researcher at the famous Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The researchers looked at data from 29 different randomized, controlled trials of acupuncture for chronic pain (a total of 17,922 patients), analyzed the results, and concluded that acupuncture was better at relieving pain than no treatment. They also checked whether people who thought they had acupuncture (but did not; they had a sham procedure) improved as well as acupuncture patients but they did not.

By stimulating these natural pain killers with acupuncture your body goes to work healing itself.

In short Acupuncture Rocks! If you are in pain try it!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Acupuncture Is Working For Elite Athletes

Whether you’re a professional athlete or a person who likes to stay active, acupuncture can help you feel great and perform at your best! Every time I read about an elite or international competition, I quickly hear about some athletes who are using acupuncture. Why are athletes turning to Traditional Chinese Medicine? No drugs, few to no side effects, and a multitude of benefits.

I don’t need to remind you that training hard can incur injuries (and awaken old ones), incite inflammation, and increase joint and muscle soreness. Athletes use acupuncture because it is wonderful for relieving pain, increasing circulation, decreasing inflammation, and speeding up recovery from injuries and tough workouts. To see specific ways elite athletes have effectively used acupuncture, read below.

5 Amazing Athletes Who Use Acupuncture

1. Daniel Kowalski an Olympic Gold, Silver and Bronze medalist in swimming, made this video discussing how acupuncture was integral to maintaining his health while he trained for the Olympics and afterward. He stated that acupuncture helped him recover from shoulder injuries, improved his sleep, fended off colds and flu, while simultaneously enhancing his general well being.

2. Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant took to twitter and posted this picture of him receiving acupuncture for his leg injury.

3. Just last week, Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour de France while being treated with acupuncture everyday throughout the arduous 3 week race. Eddy De Smedt L.Ac., a Belgian acupuncturist, treated all the cyclists on Team Astana. His treatments focused on assisting the racers with pain relief, quick recovery, and rest.

4. My favorite twitter pal, Olympic bronze medal winner Dee Dee Trotter, is a huge advocate for acupuncture. She began using acupuncture when she was dealing with "a lot of unanswerable muscular issues" and her coach at the time suggested she try it. She has become such a fan that her hometown acupuncturist accompanied her to London when she competed in the 2012 Olympic games.  She won the bronze medal in the 400 meter run. Way to go DeeDee!

5. Ray Emery - The Chicago Blackhawk used acupuncture to help in his long recovery process after hip surgery in 2010.

You can see that these 5 athletes have turned to acupuncture for injury rehabilitation, sleep, general health, pain relief, peak performance and much more. What are all you athletes waiting for?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Acupuncture Helped Vincenzo Nibali Win The Tour de France

Today Vincenzo Nibali of team Astana will be making history winning this year's Tour de France, Congratulations Vincenzo! 

Did Acupuncture Help Him Get To The Paris Podium?

Winning team, Astana, is the only team on the Tour to have a full time acupuncturist on staff! How Marvelously Brilliant!!

Eddy De Smedt L.Ac., a Belgian acupuncturist, has been treating all the cyclists on Astana throughout the grueling three week bike race. His treatments have been used to help the racers with pain relief, recovery and rest.

Below is a short excerpt from an article by the associated press.
The Kazakh team’s acupuncturist says he believes he’s the only one on a team staff at this Tour. Eddy De Smedt said he treats all riders on the team. He arrived after the early, mostly flat stages and ahead of the mountains — when recovery matters more. The usual treatment is about half an hour after dinner, De Smedt said. Before a stage, he’ll do about five or 10 minutes, aimed to reduce stress. In the evenings, after sticking the needles into Tour leader Nibali, “I’ll leave them in for 25-30 minutes, but he falls asleep,” De Smedt said. “He’s convinced that it’s something that can help him."

Friday, July 25, 2014

Parenting and The Vulcan Mind Meld

Are there any Star Trek fans out there? Well, I am one, of both the original and The Next Generation. Going back decades (but that’s why reruns are a wonderful invention),  there was an episode of Star Trek called “Devil in the dark”  (1967).  The story was about the Horta, one of the few life forms made from silicon. The Horta had been killing people on a mining colony and the crew of the Enterprise was called in to find the creature and kill it. Well, Dr. Spock discovers, through a mind meld with the Horta, that her murderous behavior was intended to defend her 1000s of silcon babies who the miners had been killing. The Horta, as any empathic mother would be, was in a great deal of pain and desperately attempting to defend her young.  The Horta, under her stone-like appearance was very sensitive and very misunderstood. In the final analysis, she was just another mother trying to save her babies.

I thought many parents might be able to relate to this particular Star Trek episode. It can be difficult dealing with a world that will sometimes misunderstand your child and create more harm than help. And, in response, I’m sure that you know parents who have had to develop a hard shell to guide their children through the school system, medical establishment and social mine fields. The shell, just like the Horta’s exterior, becomes a way to protect deeply vulnerable emotions that are exposed when we have to protect the people most near and dear to our hearts.

Too bad we all don’t have a Dr. Spock and the crew of the Enterprise to help us understand and negotiate peaceful solutions. I wonder how difficult it is to learn the mind meld technique and is it only offered on the planet Vulcan?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Why You Should Be Eating Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are one of my new favorite superfoods. These ancient seeds were commonly consumed by people in the Mayan and Aztec cultures, Chia even got its name from the Mayan word for “strength.” They are considered a “superfood” because they pack in so many nutrients with a minimum of calories.

3 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

1) Chia seeds are a concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids and unlike flaxseeds, you don’t need to grind them up to receive the benefits. When compared to salmon, ounce for ounce, Chia seeds have more omega-3 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids (EFAs), like omega-3, are anti-inflammatory, help keep joints healthy, ease pain and reduce swelling. EFAs also support heart health, help with depression, stress, arthritis and menopause.

2) Chia seeds have a high fiber content about 11 grams of fiber in 2 tablespoons (1 ounce). Fiber is important for all aspects of health, especially digestion, it can also aid in weight loss because it makes you feel fuller by soaking up fluid and expanding in your digestive tract.

3) 1 ounce of Chia seeds contains antioxidants, 4 grams of protein and more calcium than a serving of skim milk!

3 Easy Food Ideas

My version of Rasberry Chia seed pudding
1) I’ve made Chia seed pudding. The seeds become gel-like when mixed with liquid. On my pintrest recipe board, I have several Chia pudding recipes you can check out.

2) Chia seeds have a very mild, nutty flavor that makes them easy to add to foods and drinks. I often include a tablespoonful of seeds in my smoothies.

3) You can also sprinkle Chia seeds on your cereal, yogurt or salads and mix it into drinks.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cyclists in The Tour de France Use Acupuncture To Stay in Top Form

The 2014 Tour De France is underway. Hundreds of elite cyclists are racing through the picturesque mountains of France in an amazing feat of endurance. Although I am not a big cycling fan, I am a huge fan of acupuncture! So, I was thrilled to learn that super star cyclist Alberto Contador is using acupuncture to help him with his knee pain during the race. He injured his knee early in the race and uses acupuncture to combat the pain and inflammation. I also learned that Tyler Hamilton, who is now retired, also used acupuncture during the 2004 Tour.

From Cycling Weekly: Contador Receives Acupuncture for Knee
Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) is using acupuncture to treat his injured [right] knee. He hurt it twice in the opening stages of the Tour de France, first as part of his two crashes in stage five to Cap Fréhel and again on Sunday’s stage to Saint Flour.
“The inflammation is bad,” he said yesterday. “To help take care of it I am using acupuncture.”
Back in 2004 Tyler Hamilton received acupuncture after a bike accident during the race injured his back and shoulder.

From the associated press during the 2004 Tour De France: Acupuncture Helped Rider with Back Pain in the Tour de France Race
 “Just a week into this year's race, Hamilton flew off his bike again, hurting his back and shoulder in another big spill.”
"I was involved in the crash three days ago and hurt my back pretty badly," Hamilton said. He has been receiving treatment since. "I just finished doing some acupuncture on my back."

Side note: I read Tyler Hamilton’s book ‘The Secret Race’ (written with Daniel Coyle) while on vacation and really enjoyed it.

Friday, June 27, 2014

I'm On Vacation!

I'm very excited to report...I'm on Vacation!!! I will be back in my Chicago office on July 7th. If you'd like to follow me on facebook or twitter I hope to post a few photos of my adventures.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Secret About the “Secrets” in Acupuncture

I am honored to share this guest article by author Ioannis Solos, whose newest book 'Developing Internal Energy for Effective Acupuncture Practice' comes out this week. 

Take it away Ioannis....

According to Hippocrates, the practice of Medicine was already flourishing even before the invention of writing. I believe that although the ancients could not read and intellectually reflect on the plethora of medical manuscripts that we have today, they could still “learn by example”, “stick to the basics”, “live the Medicine”, “experience”, “breathe”, “keep it simple” and apply by feeling and intention. Even though the levels of sophistication and effectiveness of such ancient -and largely shamanic- practices are not comparable to our modern advances, some of these ideas still hold truth and essence, especially when it comes to “experiencing”, “keeping it simple” and also “sticking to the basics”.

Additionally, in the words of St. Maximus the Confessor: “Action is the application of theory, and theory derives from spiritual guidance [and reflection] on practice”. 

In my opinion the practice of Chinese acupuncture in the west, largely lacks this “spiritual reflection and guidance”. Instead, many of us often believe that by learning as many acupuncture micro-systems/modalities as possible, we can enrich our practice and stay in competition with others. 

Twelve years ago, in search of “the secrets” I moved to Beijing. I soon found out that there are many smaller medical traditions, family systems, lineages, minority approaches and personalized expressions of the medical art. However, all of these had one common denominator: mastery of the basics and ingenious combination of ideas alongside creative interpretation of the classical theories.

Since Chinese culture is all inter-connected under an umbrella of common theoretical basics such as the Yin Yang, Five Phases, Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, the Eight Trigrams etc., philosophical correspondences and similarities also exist across different fields.

Drawing from my experiences in the Chinese Internal Martial Arts world, many of us usually perceive someone as a master, only after one has perfected their “fundamental skills” or “jiben gong”.  Someone who has learned many arts but is unable to use any of them effectively is still regarded as a Jack-of-all-trades.

In my opinion, your basic skills can be likened to the trunk of a tree. If the trunk is strong (i.e. your martial, medical, and intellectual skills are flourishing), only then you can help it grow branches by learning additional modalities and perfecting your skills. Ultimately, all of these will have a common core; make sense as part of a whole, and they can complement each other in harmony. The fruit will be your own contributions to your practice of medicine, and the seeds your legacy.

After more than a decade in the Far East, I came to realize that the only secret in acupuncture, is not pursuing all those “exotic” skills that others possess (or every trendy micro-system that gets popularized every few years), but how creative you can be with the materials that you already know, and how well everything relates to everything else you know. Of course equally important is keeping faithful to the core tradition and continuous study, practice, research and refinement.

My new book “Developing Internal Energy for Effective Acupuncture Practice”, which will hit the shops in Europe this week (and the rest of the world over the next few days), is a book of acupuncture essence. Although it does not include any point combinations, or extravagant techniques, it speaks about how to effectively cultivate your internal skills towards enhancing your needling and the efficacy of your healing approaches. I hope that after reading it, people will apply their own creative thinking and ultimately expand their understanding and their own level of cultivation towards the path.

Ioannis Solos studied Traditional Chinese Medicine at Middlesex University and the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. He enjoys researching, teaching, practicing and critically interpreting the ancient philosophy and culture of China, internal martial arts, health preservation practices, classic medical texts and lesser-known Chinese esoteric traditions. He is also the author of “Gold Mirrors and Tongue Reflections: The Cornerstone Classics of Chinese Medicine Tongue Diagnosis” published by Singing Dragon.

Congratulations on your new book, Ioannis, quite an accomplishment!