Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Adaptation, Spring, and the Wood Element in Chinese Medicine

Living in harmony with the seasons is one key component to health in Chinese Medicine. Our world is forever changing and, to be at our best, we must continually adapt to these changes and “go with the flow”. Therefore, as the seasons change, we must change as well. In Chicago, we have survived Chiberia and are almost free of the brutal cold. Spring is struggling to make an appearance and I’m more than willing to adapt to green trees, mild weather, sun shine and flowers. In Chinese Medicine, there are more complex  associations with Spring.

In Chinese Medicine, each season has a corresponding element. The season of Spring is associated with the Wood element. What does this mean for us? It’s time to take action! Take the first step, that’s what the wood element is all about.

Wood exemplifies the energy of growth and change that comes with Spring. It represents a very active energy that allows for progress, both internally and externally. In Chicago, we have been hibernating for months. The time has come to get out - both literally and figuratively. This is the perfect moment to push through obstacles, get moving on projects, and do the things you’ve been putting off (Like getting an acupuncture treatment ;)

There is another side to Wood’s energy. When thwarted or constrained, the element Wood is the energy that contributes to frustration, anger and stress. Therefore, the key to a healthy, happy Spring is flexibility. Like the trees in the nature, we can use our energy for moving forward and growing without holding ourselves too rigidly. If we don’t bend, we will snap. If we are too loose, like a badly rooted tree, there is no anchor so we have less potential to use our strength for growth.

Carpe Diem - Seize The Day!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Acupuncture in Australia: New Findings

Australia is in the news because of acupuncture, not only due to a princely visit. Just when Kate Middleton (aka Duchess of Cambridge), Prince William and Prince George are visiting New Zealand and Australia, we have some exciting news from that region of the world. My mother has checked the royals' itinerary and assures me that they are visiting the Maori and are interested in more alternative ideas. Maybe they will be introduced to acupuncture and herbs.

A recent study, conducted in 4 Melbourne hospital emergency departments 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 new research trial of about 550 patients.  While data from the study is still being analyzed and finalized for publication in a medical journal, one of the study's authors, Dr. Michael Ben-Meir is quoted as saying,

"...acupuncture offered the same level of pain relief as analgesic drugs when patients rated their pain one hour after treatment." Acupuncture was equivalent to what they defined as conventional medicine standard care, which was strong oral analgesia, such as Endone, Panadeine Forte, Voltaren and Valium. Furthermore,'he said, ''I find acupuncture doesn't always help all patients, but occasionally it's the thing that really shifts them and gets them home and gets their symptoms resolved...It has an effect, there's no doubt about that. It's just, when do you use it? How often? Which points? And who delivers it? There's a lot to be thought about and analyzed (thats the way they spell it Down under) before something like this is a standard therapy.''

Study participants treated with acupuncture also tended to leave hospital earlier, suggesting it sped up emergency department care, and they found a very low rate of minor adverse events, such as bleeding at the needling sites." So, if Prince William falls over a kangaroo and sprains his ankle or Kate gets a migraine from the tiara, let's hope they are taken to one of Melbourne's fine hospitals.

Source: Acupuncture as good as drugs, say researchers

Sunday, March 30, 2014

We Feel Different Emotions in Different Parts of Our Body

A very interesting post from my mom's blog 'Life Ain't For Sissie's'

Body Maps

Finnish researchers induced different emotions in 701 participants from Western Europe and East Asia and then asked them to color the portions of body map of where they felt increasing or decreasing activity during the particular emotion. Despite the cultural differences, they found remarkable similarities in how people responded.

Here are the general results for six basic emotions. The section of the body mentioned is where people FEEL the emotion most. (Read the study for more subtle distinctions)

Anger – felt in head, chest, arms and hands. Lower body feels neutral
Fear – felt mostly in the center of the chest. Arms and legs feel neutral
Disgust – felt in the mouth and throat area
Happiness – felt in the head and center of the chest (but the whole body feels pretty good)
Sadness – nothing feels intense and limbs feel low response
Surprise – nothing feels as high as anger, fear or happiness but some feeling in chest and head.
The authors explain, “Most basic emotions were associated with sensations of elevated activity in the upper chest area, likely corresponding to changes in breathing and heart rate. Similarly, sensations in the head area were shared across all emotions, reflecting probably both physiological changes in the facial area [...] as well as the felt changes in the contents of mind triggered by the emotional events.”
It is fascinating that happiness is the one emotion that fills the whole body including the legs, perhaps indicating that happy people feel ready to spring into action, or maybe do a jig. 
The study’s lead author, Lauri Nummenmaa, explained, “Emotions adjust not only our mental, but also our bodily states. This way they prepare us to react swiftly to the dangers, but also to the opportunities [...] Awareness of the corresponding bodily changes may subsequently trigger the conscious emotional sensations, such as the feeling of happiness.”
source: Nummenmaa et al 2013.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Acupuncture (that’s French for acupuncture :) and Paris

In less then a month, I will be visiting Paris and I am very excited! I spent almost a year living in Paris but that was many years ago and I am prepared to see all sorts of changes, including alternative medicine. So, in honor of my upcoming travels, I thought it would be fun to take a look at France and Chinese Medicine.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that France was one of the earlier Westernized nations to adopt the practice of acupuncture. In the 16th century missionaries who had spent time in China brought stories home with them. Cross pollination of cultures continued and quite a bit later, the acceptance of Chinese Medicine was largely influenced by G. Soulie de Morant, a French diplomat who lived in China for almost 20 years. In Beijing he witnessed victims of a cholera epidemic being treated and helped with acupuncture. His curiosity piqued, Soulié de Morant began reading medical texts and studying acupuncture. When he returned to France, he devoted his middle and later years (1929 onward) to translating Chinese classics like ‘Zhenjin Dacheng’, Principles of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, from the Ming Dynasty, thus firmly introducing acupuncture into Europe.

In 1955, the French advisory body, The National Academy of Medicine, accepted acupuncture as part of medical practice and in that country (unlike the U.S.), you must be a medical doctor to perform acupuncture which may limit availability but, on the plus side, acupuncture is often reimbursed by social security when performed by an M.D.

Update: I recently found out, there are acupuncturists in France who are not M.D.'s, but I'm not sure of the current regulations regarding practice if you are not a medical doctor. Perhaps I should look into it and move to France?? ;)

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Adventure Continues

I am so excited that my book 'Adventures in Chinese Medicine' has been receiving international attention! Does anyone read Italian? I can't read the review from a reader in Italy but, if you can, please let me know what it says.

One review that I had no trouble reading (several times) is a heartwarming article written by Dr. Philip Nino Tan-Gatue, Clinical Associate Professor at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine. Here is a small portion...

"Perfect for Patients"
"The title alone would suggest one important thing: "Adventures in Chinese Medicine" is obviously not meant to be a reference book in a practitioner's library. It was written with the curious patient in mind. Jennifer Dubowsky - acupuncturist, herbalist, blogger - knew what she wanted to do, and did it magnificently."

"'Adventures in Chinese Medicine' is written in a straightforward, easy to read, flowing manner. The reader will not be turned overnight into an expert in Chinese culture and TCM concepts, but the text serves as a key into opening one's mind to what Chinese Medicine is all about. The result of this is that the communication gap between practitioner and client is bridged, and a more thorough exchange of ideas is possible." To read more go to Dr. Philip's blog.

To buy my book click here, download the ebook or stop by the office

I have been asked about wholesale orders for other acupuncturists who want to offer Adventures in Chinese Medicine to their patients and I am happy to do this. If you want copies for resale, please let me know.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Make Chicago living easier this Saturday with Acupuncture

Here in Chicago most of us are a bit burned out by the never ending cold and snow. Travel has become difficult and annoying because of the weather so, to make staying healthy a little easier, I've decided to open my River North acupuncture office this Saturday afternoon March, 8th. I hope this encourages you to venture out. Let me know if you'd like to make an appointment, I'd love to see you!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Something to Think About

 “The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.” Flora Whittemore

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

3 Great Reasons To Get Acupuncture This Winter

1) Reduce stress - This is a winter that could stress anyone and we all know that stress has a negative impact on our minds and bodies. Acupuncture reduces stress quickly and safely.

2) Prevent illness - Winter is rough, the extreme cold and damp provide an environment that makes it easier for you to get sick. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs boost your immunity in order to remain healthy and, if you're already sick, treatments can lessen your symptoms and reduce the duration of the illness.

3) Recharge your body - This winter has been tough on many of us and it won't be over for awhile. The cold and sludge drain our energy, make it harder to accomplish our goals and frankly, the tenacity of this weather is depressing. A few well placed needles can nurture your depleted body, increase your energy, help you sleep better, and relieve built up tension.

Monday, February 24, 2014

4 Easy Winter Strategies To Improve Your Health and Happiness

We are having a brutal winter in Chicago. I hear from my family in the East that they are also experiencing rough weather. It is only my relatives and friends in California (they are NOT farmers worrying about drought) who are bragging about superb temperatures. So, this next article is for those of us living east of the Rockies.

As some of you may already know, in Chinese Medicine there are five elements; wood, fire, earth, metal and water. These five elements are metaphors for describing how different aspects of our world interact and relate to each other.

As we in Chicago know very well, winter arrived with dramatic force! It is not always a dramatic season. Often, winter is a time of stillness and rest (think hibernation), during which energy is conserved and stored. Water is the element of winter. Therefore, this is a great month in which to discuss it. Water is one of the most powerful elements (and my favorite). In Chicago, we are seeing water frozen and still, only one form of water's dangerous wrath. It can also move with speed and deadly force. Remember the tsunami in Southeast Asia? Yet water is also patient and slow. We know that water can slowly smooth the surface of a rock by years of continual gentle persistence. From these examples, we understand that Water represents fluidity or the ability to "go with the flow." I really appreciate this aspect - water is adaptable, still, and patient, yet unyielding, determined, and unstoppable.

What does this mean for us who are experiencing the polar vortex? Living in harmony with the seasons is an ancient Chinese belief. Winter urges us to slow down. This is a natural time of year to replenish energy and conserve our strength. In Chinese Medicine, each season is also associated with a specific organ in the body and winter's organ is the kidneys. We need to consider our kidney Qi because, in winter, our body's energy stores are depleted. We get down to our reserves. Think of kidney qi like gas in our car's tank. We all know that when our gas tank gets close to empty, it is more likely to freeze.

Chinese Medicine believes that cold invades our body, exposing us to chills, colds, and headaches. To drive out the cold, phlegm, and keep you at your best this season, remember the effectiveness of acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Seasonal acupuncture treatments in winter serve to nourish our kidney Qi which greatly enhances the body's ability to thrive during these frigid days. Acupuncture and herbs ease stress, aid in healing, prevent illness and increase vitality.

4 Easy Winter Health Strategies

1. Go to bed earlier; you aren't missing anything. Winter is a perfect time to conserve your strength and get extra rest. Think like the bears and do a little healthy hibernating.

2. Stay warm. We all know this, but in Chinese Medicine it is considered especially important to keep your back, neck, and upper chest covered when you go outside. Keep your feet warm at home. Wear slippers, cold comes up through the floor and into your body. This last tip is especially important for women who suffer from PMS or who are trying to conceive.

3. Adapt your diet. Stay away from too many raw foods because they can cool the body. Eat warm, hearty soups, whole grains, steam your veggies instead of salads, roasted nuts (walnuts and chestnuts are both especially effective for nourishing Kidney Qi), squashes, root vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, kidney beans, and black beans.

4. Drink water. Winter's body organ, kidneys, are associated with the water element so drink plenty of water but keep it warm or at room temperature instead of cold and drink throughout the day. A hot cup of tea, with honey and lemon is also a wonderful idea.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Iman Can't Live Without Acupuncture

In the March, 2014 issue of Elle Decor, Somali-born former model and wife of musician David Bowie, the gorgeous Iman, states the "12 things she can't live without." In the list, just after Unicef's go-2-school campaign and just before her Pasha de Cartier men's watch, she names ACUPUNCTURE. She says, "preventive medicine is the best medicine." I totally agree!