Monday, September 1, 2014

Finding All That Chinese Medicine “Magic” You Were Promised - Part Two

Last week Ioannis Solos, author of the new book 'Developing Internal Energy for Effective Acupuncture Practice', discussed the difficult task of finding the right path in your own Chinese Medicine practice. He wrote about four main steps to help you find your way with reflection and practicality. This week we present the second half of his essay:

3. Apprenticeship under a good teacher (Depth of knowledge)

Various Chinese proverbs advise that: "the teachers should only impart the family secrets to sons and disciples" and "should never communicate the secrets of the medical art to outsiders". This is because apprenticeship would be a good shortcut to learning. No book can ever fully replace “oral transmission” and “experience”. Even in modern times, the Chinese believe that if someone is not at least a third generation lineage holder, their medicine is not up to a satisfactory standard. Traditionally, the top disciples would undergo the Baishi (拜师) ceremony to be regarded as true lineage holders, finally taking a hard-earned place within the Medical Guild.

Sadly, after the 1960’s, the ancient ways have been abolished for the sake of simplicity, speed, and science. It is also really painful to see that someone’s idea of being a successful practitioner is merely to pass examinations and open a generic high street clinic, offering a large selection of mass-produced easy to swallow pills, and textbook acupuncture prescription. Where is the art in this, and where is the soul of Chinese Medicine?

4. The Extra Step – Martial Education (Subtlety)

However, even after acquiring a deep understanding about acupuncture, there is a certain subtlety that cannot be passed on through the written or oral traditions. Some soft skills must be felt, explored and understood in a very personal, and perhaps, less scholarly way. These include – among others –, ideas such as softness, intuition, strategy and benevolence which in my opinion only achieve their full blossom through a Martial/Neigong education.

Contrary to popular mythology, before 1949, Martial Arts were –mostly– taught to people with good education and financial stability. Since Martial Training demanded lengthy and dedicated practice over several years, it was impossible for common people to afford a teacher and be fully employed at the same time (exceptions did exist). That’s the reason why ancient sages such as Zhang San-feng or Chen Tuan were able to write classic boxing manuals, demonstrating high levels of education and literature not commonly found among everyday people. Fathers sought Martial teachers for their sons, to allow them develop their imagination, cleverness, and intellectual capacity much like the ancient Greeks did in the “gymnasium”.

Since Chinese Medicine is now growing and maturing westwards, perhaps we should embrace some of the ancient ways abandoned in China, and through hard work and personal efforts discover its hidden meanings and enlightenment in ways that have never been fully clarified in the available literature ever before.

Ioannis Solos newest  book “Developing Internal Energy for Effective Acupuncture Practice” came out in July. He 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.

*In case you didn't catch Ioannis's first post on this blog 'The Secret About the “Secrets” in Acupuncture' go read it now!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

I Hope Everyone is Enjoying the Labor Day Weekend!

 

"Well done is better than well said." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Monday, August 25, 2014

Finding All That Chinese Medicine “Magic” You Were Promised

Ioannis Solos
Dedicated scholar, acupuncturist, author and teacher Ioannis Solos is back! In June he shared The Secret About the “Secrets” in Acupuncture, and today he writes about "the magic"! 

Ioannis Solos

Chinese Medicine is a healing art that requires investing a lot of personal effort to investigate, reflect, memorize and apply, while continuously striving to reach higher levels of understanding. After your Chinese medicine soul gains enough nourishment, then it can finally transform to healing energy, and that’s reaching the place where all the magic happens.

But how do we find the right path?  In this article I will present the main steps as four levels according to how the ancients did it. Although the modern learning methods differ from those of a generation ago, perhaps we could learn something useful from the old-timers, discover and absorb the practical points and ultimately find inspiration and enlightenment.

Confucius said that: the people in the South have a proverb, "if someone is not persevering or does not have constancy, he should not be a wizard or a doctor".

1. Patience, hard work, focus on the essential materials (Foundations)

In old China, potential medical disciples often had to go through series of tests before being allowed to learn the secrets of the art. For example, herbal training usually started from following a teacher up in the mountains, finding herbs and learning much about their properties. Eventually there would be an explanation about which herbs could be used together to create a classic formula. Because in ancient China books were expensive and rare, students usually had to copy by hand a small collection of important books and memorize them. They didn’t have to study every book under the heaven, but only master the materials available to them, and then …think, reflect and imagine. This level of dedication is essential, especially because our priorities are easily distracted by the so many voices, approaches and ideas that become trendy ever so often.

2. Open your mind - look at the bigger picture (Wisdom)

The Chinese doctors in the ancient times had deep knowledge of various other fields, and therefore before making a diagnosis would take into account the social situation, the struggles and stresses of the common people, the weather changes, the special geographic specifics of the area they practiced, and many other factors. For example, the traditional acupuncture education explicitly demanded mastery of the “six fields of knowledge” (六通) which included astronomy, geography, and geomancy. These prerequisites, would enhance the doctor’s understanding of how the “heaven, earth and man” (天地人) could affect the patient’s balance, and ultimately assist them towards selecting appropriate healing approaches.

*Be sure to check back next Monday when Ioannis will share the next two levels of magic :)

Ioannis Solos newest  book “Developing Internal Energy for Effective Acupuncture Practice” came out last month. He 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.


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
www.eddydesmedt.be
info@eddydesmedt.be


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Confidence


"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.

Enjoy!