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17Jan/10Off

Single-herb formula for Athlete’s Foot, Part 1

Athlete's Foot is caused by a fungal infection called tinea pedia. It's often contracted by walking barefoot in public showers and locker rooms. It's usually treated with topical salves, creams, lotions or by bathing the feet in antifungal washes.

Chinese herbalogy takes a different approach somehow in order to treat athlete's foot. There are pills for elimination and also for preventing initial infection if taken in advance.

There are two single-herb formula for athlete's foot. I'll list the first one now and the second one in the next post.

PENG SHA (Borax, Mineral Salt)

Ingredient:

10-15 grams of Peng Sha (buy it powdered)

Description:

This single-herb raw formula is used directly on the infected area to destroy the bacterial fungus found. It prevents putrefaction, detoxifies poison, kills bacteria and reduces swelling.

Analysis:

It clears pathogens, toxins and fungi from our body.

Preparation:

This powder can be sprinkled between the toes and on the infected area, or mixed with water to make a paste and apply to the infected area. Use as needed until the infection is clear.

Note:

This formula is for EXTERNAL use, do not use it internally!

(to be cont'd)

(source: Chinese Herbal Medicine Made Easy, by Thomas Richard Joiner)

27Nov/09Off

Wonderful water therapies – Swimming, Part 1

Mr. Chen, age 36, is a patient of gout. Since he started swimming, he couldn't stop this wonderful habit. Although he didn't know how to swim at first and his swimming postures were funny, after a few weeks of practices, he can already swim 700-800 meters. He felt a little shameful learning swimming at his age, but he found swimming is the first exercise ever that he really interested. Other than fulfilling his interest, swimming did help healing his gout problem. He's been taking medicines for gout for a few years. After he learned swimming, his gout seemed to have healed. The medicines were also cut to half of what he was taking by the doctor. His mom noticed that his health got improved a lot. Mr. Chen always got flu before but now he's much stronger and never caught a flu or even cold.

Mrs. Xiu was really negative after a motorcycle accident, especially her legs weren't able to walk, and she also lost her law suit against the person who caused the accident. All these made her turned very blue towards her life. She felt her life got ruined and even thought about committing suicide. After two surgeries on her legs and installed artificial joints, she started to learn how to walk again with a walking stick, trying to rebuild her life. However, her son and daughter had to take care of her in turns because they live and study far from home. She felt really like a burden to her family. Every day she wish she could take care of herself, but she can't even stand without support. A few days before her son go for military service, he brought Mrs. Xiu to swimming for the very first time. At first she wasn't interested, she was thinking to come back in an hour or two. However, once she tried, she loved it. She even asked her son, "Why didn't you bring me to swim earlier?"

Mrs. Xiu started to go swimming by herself since her son left. She didn't feel lonely because she found a new social life in swimming pool, and an interesting exercise that helped her legs recover. At first she started really slow, but after the help from the coach and other swimmers, she quickly learned all different styles of from breaststroke to freestyle. She started to walk better as well. At first her family just thought swimming helped curing her legs quick. Half year later, when Mrs. Xiu son went swimming with her, he found that her mom can swim almost faster than he could - a pretty big body swimming like a fish. He said her mom became a total different person, sort of like "resurrected". Mrs. Xiu, of course, really happy about the effects of this "therapy". Now she can go to the doctor's office by herself. She met another patient who replaced the joints at around the same time, still walking with a stick. She immediately shared her wonderful experience with swimming with that patient. Now she goes swimming everyday whether is sunny or rainy. She drives 30 minutes with her new motorcycle to the swimming pool. She doesn't mind that because swimming totally changed her life.

(to be cont'd)

25Nov/09Off

Wonderful water therapies – Spa, hot spring, etc, Part 6

(cont'd from part 5)

Healing with spa in hot spring definitely have certain ways when we take the bath. Some people think  the hotter water the better, or the longer of the bath the better. However, these are wrong perceptions. Mr. Hong indicates that immersing in hot water for too long may hurt the skin, while the ability to dehydrate and calories burning is different from one to one. Taiwan and Japan are places that have mostly high temperature hot springs. The water can be as hot as 38-44 Celsius degrees. The extreme temperature one can resist in hot water is around 51 Celsius degrees, but Mr. Hong don't recommend that high because there's a disease called "spa-sick". Some guests never add cold water to sulfuric spring, because they think lower temperature isn't as enjoyable. They'll start going higher and higher without knowing it, and then the skin got irritated. If it's too itchy and they scratch it and hurting their skin, it's already quite serious. Another symptom is that they can't live without hot spring. If they don't go for a spa often, they find themselves sore, nausea and dizzy.

There's another spa called steam spa or Sauna which was originally from Finland. Now it's very popular in a lot of gyms and spa salon. Sauna room almost becomes a standard facilities in a lot of gyms, like a popular ways to maintain good shape and skin. Although Sauna room doesn't let people use lotion, but there are still people who'd use milk, baby oil or even yogurt and hopefully these nutrients will get absorbed into the body through steam.

(to be cont'd)

22Nov/09Off

Wonderful water therapies – Spa, hot spring, etc, Part 5

(cont'd from part 4)

Although nobody ever found a real "Forever Young" hot spring, certain people after many centuries still believe that spa or hot spring those water therapies can keep one young. So many people at least find themselves spiritually refreshed, physically energized and stress relieved after water therapies; some even find that consistent spa can make them feel lighter, lose some weight and hence feel younger. It's somewhat true that most guests in those hot spring resort, swimming pool, spa salon usually leave lively and relaxed. However, these effects may be temporary as well. For example, when we immerse our body into water, blood pressure will go lower, but it goes back up to previous stage when we go back home.

In general, water treatments don't add anything to the water. So does different quality of water or hot spring come with different healing effects?

For a long time, spa in hot spring has been seen as a form of regulating our body. According to Mr. Hong, part of the healing effects is because of our body absorbs the minerals from the hot spring. These minerals activate our cells and strengthen our immune system. A strong immune system definitely help our health. So if minerals are that important for the healing effects, the quality of spring water becomes something to be carefully considered. For example, in Taiwan most hot springs are carbonate spring or sulfuric spring. Carbonate spring is more neutral towards alkaline, while sulfuric spring is more of weak acidic. Because long terms storage and delivery of water would change the state of carbonate spring, hot spring resort can't be too far from the water source. Also they don't add extra water to the spring water because only original water has healing effects, and that's why they'll need some facilities to lower the heat source. As for sulfuric spring, it's acidic so long immersion would hurt our skin. They'll have to add extra water to dilute the acid while making sure it won't lose the healing effects. So the control of pH value would be very important.

(to be cont'd)

16Nov/09Off

Wonderful water therapies – Spa, hot spring, etc, Part 3

(cont'd from part 2)

Hot Spring, according to those enthusiast s and the people in hot spring resorts, can almost cure everything. Mr. Hong, an owner of two hot spring resorts in Taiwan, has already enjoyed hot spring for over 30 years. He said diabetes, gout (metabolic arthritis), sequelae after intake of steroids, liver diseases, dark spots on skin, etc...hot spring can have healing power for these problems. It's because hot spring can help discharge the deposits of medicine and waste inside our body. Many doctors also recommend spa to help sweating and metabolism. However, these doctors didn't comment on the healing effects for the diseases above indicated by the industry.

A hot spring guest climbed out from the pool and take a break before his third time going back in. Although it's already 5 minutes, he can still clearly feel the shocking refreshment brought by the heartbeat. His head still sweating like raindrops. This is how he described it, "This is the first time I know that I can sweat this way. It's also my first time I found that the exciting heartbeats can last for this long. It feels like I just had some aerobic exercise. The author of a book called "Get healthy in 8 weeks" has his point of view on sweating in hot spa and spring, "Sweating not only can help release the extra heat, it help discharge the body waste as well, which is an important part of the recovery cycle. If you take too much salt (sodium), medicine or poisonous chemicals, this is a good excretion for the body. And It's going to help relieve the burden of liver and kidneys.

(to be cont'd)

14Nov/09Off

Wonderful water therapies – Spa, hot spring, etc, Part 2

(cont'd from part 1)

Water therapy is not necessarily a Chinese alternative healing. Considering hot spring is one of the biggest genre in water therapy, it's more common in Japan and Korea. It's also a popular activity in America and Europe as well.

General workers and housewives treat spa or other water therapies as a way to relax and relieve their stress, both mentally and physically. Retired people use water therapies as an effective treatment to relieve the accumulated pain, sore joints and muscles.  Water therapy can heal a lot of different health problems from sprain, swollen feet, sore back, arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, rehabilitation of heart and lungs functions, to stress relief and energy refreshments. A lot of problems that hospital can't help or little problems that we don't even bother to go to hospital, many people choose to go to spa, swimming pool, hot spring and Jacuzzi for solutions.

In fact, the nature of water has been used for treating certain diseases and sickness even by mainstream doctors. For example, the rehabilitation department of many hospitals use the warmth and the floating ability to heal patients who have problems with bones and muscles. Some doctors also recommend swimming as a long term treatment for patients that have disorders of heart and lungs. In Europe, America and Japan, using water therapy as treatments can qualify to claim insurance upon doctor's approval. The major difference of attitude between mainstream doctors and water therapists is that the range of the treatments of the former is not as wide as the later. And water therapists are more aggressive and confident in using water in various areas than mainstream doctors as well.

(to be cont'd)

13Nov/09Off

Wonderful water therapies – Spa, hot spring, etc, Part 1

800px-Onsen_in_Nachikatsuura,_Japan

When we talk about Spa treatment, it reminds us the massage with a effect of calm and comfort; it also reminds us the Jacuzzi with strong water streams that gives totally refreshing experience; and reminds us a pair of strong hands slowly and precisely treat our painful muscles and joints. Water can be so wonderful when we use it for health purpose.

A housewife run to the swimming pool every day taking her daughter to school, not for swimming, but for the Jacuzzi next to the major pool. She works from home for some extra money, but the job requires her sitting all the time which makes her neck and back tight, sore and even painful. The 1-2 hour session getting massage by the water streams in Jacuzzi becomes her best leisure time every day. She can't resist this water treatment that relieves her sore and pain and totally addicts to it.

A retired couple goes to the hot spring 5 times a week. Driving their 25 years old Toyota to the hot spring for a spa is almost like their habit now. 50 minutes of driving seems to worth it. They said they don't have much to do after retired, going to hot spring seem to be the best way to relax. Some friends joke about them taking care of their health as well as taking care of their 25 years old car.

Swimming, water aerobic exercises, hot spring, cold padding, heat padding, bath, shower, Jacuzzi, spa, water streams and different kinds of water therapies actually means using water in any form including hot water and cold water in liquid,  or ice and steam for health treatments. Almost we can do it everywhere from the bathroom, hospital, swimming pool to gym, hot spring and spa. Although water therapies are more for leisure than for curing, but the healing effects are pretty obvious that people start to make it as a healthy habit.

(to be cont'd)

(Photo: This Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons image is from the user Chris 73 and is freely available at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Onsen_in_Nachikatsuura,_Japan.jpg under the creative commons cc-by-sa 2.5 license.)

15Oct/09Off

Make alternative healing become mainstream, discussion part 1

My mom has been struggling getting an affordable health insurance lately after she got laid off from where she works at the age of 62. That reminds me the movie "Sicko" which talks about how the greedy medicine companies and doctors trying to keep their profits and ignore the health needs of Americans. This year President Obama has been fighting against some republicans and the powerful medical businesses for an affordable insurance proposal for everyone. It's a big challenge for Obama because the stubborn rich medical business profit takers are very powerful in Congress, let alone the noise from medical professionals. In fact, not all doctors or medical professionals are that greedy, over 65% of them support Obama's proposal. It's just those medical companies don't want to give up certain profits because many of them are public companies that have to make money for the investors, as well as saving some profits for research and development of even better medicines and equipments. However, these companies a sacrificing the health of public because of these financial issues. When one company does that, others have to follow, and then the medical cost goes up ridiculously every year.

While President Obama's proposal is getting stuck right now, certain people are trying to save the health of everyone by studying about "alternative healing" and "Integrative medicine". I'm going to paste an article written by these wise doctors last year. It's really, really worth to read if you're also thinking our health insurance system is ridiculous.

'Alternative' Medicine Is Mainstream
The evidence is mounting that diet and lifestyle are the best cures for our worst afflictions.

By DEEPAK CHOPRA , DEAN ORNISH , RUSTUM ROY and ANDREW WEIL

In mid-February, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the Bravewell Collaborative are convening a "Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public." This is a watershed in the evolution of integrative medicine, a holistic approach to health care that uses the best of conventional and alternative therapies such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture and herbal remedies. Many of these therapies are now scientifically documented to be not only medically effective but also cost effective.

President-elect Barack Obama and former Sen. Tom Daschle (the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services) understand that if we want to make affordable health care available to the 45 million Americans who do not have health insurance, then we need to address the fundamental causes of health and illness, and provide incentives for healthy ways of living rather than reimbursing only drugs and surgery.

Heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, breast cancer and obesity account for 75% of health-care costs, and yet these are largely preventable and even reversible by changing diet and lifestyle. As Mr. Obama states in his health plan, unveiled during his campaign: "This nation is facing a true epidemic of chronic disease. An increasing number of Americans are suffering and dying needlessly from diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and HIV/AIDS, all of which can be delayed in onset if not prevented entirely."

The latest scientific studies show that our bodies have a remarkable capacity to begin healing, and much more quickly than we had once realized, if we address the lifestyle factors that often cause these chronic diseases. These studies show that integrative medicine can make a powerful difference in our health and well-being, how quickly these changes may occur, and how dynamic these mechanisms can be.

Many people tend to think of breakthroughs in medicine as a new drug, laser or high-tech surgical procedure. They often have a hard time believing that the simple choices that we make in our lifestyle -- what we eat, how we respond to stress, whether or not we smoke cigarettes, how much exercise we get, and the quality of our relationships and social support -- can be as powerful as drugs and surgery. But they often are. And in many instances, they're even more powerful.

These studies often used high-tech, state-of-the-art measures to prove the power of simple, low-tech, and low-cost interventions. Integrative medicine approaches such as plant-based diets, yoga, meditation and psychosocial support may stop or even reverse the progression of coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, prostate cancer, obesity, hypercholesterolemia and other chronic conditions.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that these approaches may even change gene expression in hundreds of genes in only a few months. Genes associated with cancer, heart disease and inflammation were downregulated or "turned off" whereas protective genes were upregulated or "turned on." A study published in The Lancet Oncology reported that these changes increase telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens telomeres, the ends of our chromosomes that control how long we live. Even drugs have not been shown to do this.

Our "health-care system" is primarily a disease-care system. Last year, $2.1 trillion was spent in the U.S. on medical care, or 16.5% of the gross national product. Of these trillions, 95 cents of every dollar was spent to treat disease after it had already occurred. At least 75% of these costs were spent on treating chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, that are preventable or even reversible.

The choices are especially clear in cardiology. In 2006, for example, according to data provided by the American Heart Association, 1.3 million coronary angioplasty procedures were performed at an average cost of $48,399 each, or more than $60 billion; and 448,000 coronary bypass operations were performed at a cost of $99,743 each, or more than $44 billion. In other words, Americans spent more than $100 billion in 2006 for these two procedures alone.

Despite these costs, a randomized controlled trial published in April 2007 in The New England Journal of Medicine found that angioplasties and stents do not prolong life or even prevent heart attacks in stable patients (i.e., 95% of those who receive them). Coronary bypass surgery prolongs life in less than 3% of patients who receive it. So, Medicare and other insurers and individuals pay billions for surgical procedures like angioplasty and bypass surgery that are usually dangerous, invasive, expensive and largely ineffective. Yet they pay very little -- if any money at all -- for integrative medicine approaches that have been proven to reverse and prevent most chronic diseases that account for at least 75% of health-care costs. The INTERHEART study, published in September 2004 in The Lancet, followed 30,000 men and women on six continents and found that changing lifestyle could prevent at least 90% of all heart disease.

In Today's Opinion Journal

That bears repeating: The disease that accounts for more premature deaths and costs Americans more than any other illness is almost completely preventable simply by changing diet and lifestyle. And the same lifestyle changes that can prevent or even reverse heart disease also help prevent or reverse many other chronic diseases as well. Chronic pain is one of the major sources of worker's compensation claims costs, yet studies show that it is often susceptible to acupuncture and Qi Gong. Herbs usually have far fewer side effects than pharmaceuticals.

Joy, pleasure and freedom are sustainable, deprivation and austerity are not. When you eat a healthier diet, quit smoking, exercise, meditate and have more love in your life, then your brain receives more blood and oxygen, so you think more clearly, have more energy, need less sleep. Your brain may grow so many new neurons that it could get measurably bigger in only a few months. Your face gets more blood flow, so your skin glows more and wrinkles less. Your heart gets more blood flow, so you have more stamina and can even begin to reverse heart disease. Your sexual organs receive more blood flow, so you may become more potent -- similar to the way that circulation-increasing drugs like Viagra work. For many people, these are choices worth making -- not just to live longer, but also to live better.

It's time to move past the debate of alternative medicine versus traditional medicine, and to focus on what works, what doesn't, for whom, and under which circumstances. It will take serious government funding to find out, but these findings may help reduce costs and increase health.

Integrative medicine approaches bring together those in red states and blue states, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, because these are human issues. They are both medically effective and, important in our current economic climate, cost effective. These approaches emphasize both personal responsibility and the opportunity to make affordable, quality health care available to those who most need it. Mr. Obama should make them an integral part of his health plan as soon as possible.

Dr. Chopra, the author of more than 50 books on the mind, body and spirit, is guest faculty at Beth Israel Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ornish is clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Mr. Roy is professor emeritus of materials science at Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Weil is director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.

(Source: Wall Street Journal)

27Aug/09Off

5 advices dealing with backache for women

Back pain and sore or backache annoys more women than men. Men usually only have to change their sitting pose or have enough warm-up before doing exercise and these should avoid the problem. However, back pain of women involves their menstruation , shoes and even the design of their kitchen, if they're housewives.

The best way to deal with back pain or back sore is of course go see a doctor. But for those busy working moms or housewives who don't have time for a doctor appointment, there are still certain things they can do for a relief. If you are one of them, you can take some advice if you're in pain:

1. Sleep sideways, with a little curve. Adjust the hardness of the mattress so that it fits the curve of your body and help your back to keep straight. My wife had the same problem 10 years ago and went to see chiropractor so many times and still painful for about 2 years. I just bought her a new mattress (I was still her boyfriend back then) and that fixed her back in one week. If you're used to sleep with face-up, put a pillow under the knees to lift up the legs a little.

2. Take a bath with warm water for no longer than 15 minutes. Use some spa oils or something similar to help relieve that back pain or back sore.

3. Check the shoes, put those pointy and high heel shoes (higher than 2 inches) back into storage. Wear round or square head,  flat heel shoes, or multifunction tennis shoes would help. I know, they may not look as good as your favorite ones, but the pain is yours. It's all up to you.

4. For housewives who can stand in the kitchen for many hours, check the height of the kitchen top, or you may try the ones you can find in the shops like Home Depot or Lowes.  Make sure you understand how the kitchen top affect your working pose in the kitchen. Replace a set if necessary. I know it's a lot of work, but if you stand there all day crooking up or the other way around, it's going to hurt more in the long run.

5. Increase the intake of calcium from the food. Tofu, milk and cheese are good sources. It helps the bone, and definitely the back bone. I'm pretty sure most housewives told their kids about it. But it's a reminder for the housewives themselves.

These can help only the back pain symptoms. After all, checking with a doctor will still be necessary. A chiropractor can help too. As for Healthy Check ways, acupuncture, acupressure, moxabustion and Qi Gong can help too.

16Aug/09Off

Brief introduction of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatment methods

About a week ago I had a post talking about Traditional Chinese Medical Diagnosis. At the end I mentioned a treatment plan being developed after the diagnosis. A treatment plan is designed with different appropriate therapies, usually includes one or a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, moxabustion, cupping, five star plum blossom, acupressure (also called "Tui Na" in Chinese), bathing and washing methods.

Acupuncture is a therapy that uses needles pinched into specific acupuncture points (or acupoints in short) to affect the flow of vital energy (Qi or Chi). There are a big web of acupuncture points and the collection is called Meridians system, which has 12 principal meridians (or called channels) that correspond to the yin and yang organs and the pericardium. (Yin organs mostly are those without an empty cavity, and include the heart, liver, lungs, spleen, and kidneys. As the opposite, Yang organs usually have an empty cavity such as the gall bladder, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and bladder. Pericardium is not an independent organ, it refers to the tissues surrounding the heart, or say it is a membrane that protects the heart.) Meridians work as a channel system that carries Qi and blood, but they are not blood vessels and there is no anatomical channel structure. There are 365 acupuncture points in our body,  and each points belongs to a specific meridian channel that connects to particular  organs.

Moxabustion is a form of heat therapy that uses the herb mugwort applied to specific points or areas of the body for healing purpose. Usually it's learned with acupuncture and combined as one expertise. Cupping is a skill that uses suction cups made of bamboo or glasses. There was I time I had a serious flu, the doctor used acupuncture and cupping at the same time, and then I got a lot better just the next day.

Herbal medicine involves the use of botanical, mineral, and zoological substances for the cure if disease. This blog will talk more about herbal medicines in the future, and what diseases they can cure. Of course, these are just like an introduction and let the readers know what's possible with TCM. The complex prescription will need a doctor or practitioner to design, or some patent remedies that have been tested for hundreds of years.

Acupressure, or called Tui Na in some translations (actually that's how it's pronounced in Chinese), is a Chinese therapeutic massage. There are a lot of different acupressure techniques, from pressing acupuncture points to fix the injuries of limps, from head to toe, acupressure can be applied.

"Five star plum blossom", or called dermal needles, uses five needles bound together to stimulate yang energy by tapping areas of the body.

Bathing and Washing, on the other hand, is quite common. There are water cures, cold baths, sauna and steam, and the one worth most noticing is herbal baths or herbal foot baths. Certain skin problems will use herbal baths as well. Other than herbal foot bath, Herbal pillow can also be used for better sleep.

While these are traditional Chinese therapies that are useful and complementary to one another, the most popular ones are acupuncture and herbal medicine. Most licensed acupuncturist will have to learn both, or even more including some acupressure.

Qi Gong, on the other hand, still can't be fully explained by science after all these years. The way it works is under the understanding of Qi, or vital energy control. Although the real Qi Gong master can heal many people, it's still not an official therapy for traditional Chinese doctor to learn.

(sources: Chinese Herbal Medicine made easy by Thomas Richard Joiner, www.shen-nong.com)