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11Dec/09Off

Wonderful water therapies – Swimming, Part 2

Alright, I just came back from a vacation and will go on to talk about different healing therapies along with my research. Sometimes,  it's not necessarily limited to Healthy Check therapies, just whatever alternative therapies I found interesting. I brought up some inspiring stories of swimming last post. Indeed, swimming has been long known for a great exercise. In the recent 20 years, it has become a physical therapy for many patients instructed by doctors. Over 60 millions of Americans take swimming as a long-term exercise for health "maintenance". In the old days of Chinese community, most people focused on working hard as their "exercise", partly because of the poverty keep them "work" hard in the farms, or as blue collar workers just to survive. Now since the society changed a lot already, people who are especially over 30-40 years old realize their health are getting worse. They need to find a better way for leisure and health purpose, which can keep them healthy even after retire.  Swimming is known as the best work out for the whole body.  So it's getting more popular in Chinese community than before.

A lot of consistent swimmers go for swimming because their health is declining, usually after 40 something, symptoms are like sore back, get tired easily, etc. Retired swimmers also go swim for social purpose as well. Repetitive movements, slow and steady breaths, the freedom and the floating force provided by water, help swimmers to feel relieved and change the mindset. Some people swim for fun immersing in the water, some swim for exercise, some people swim for stress relief. No matter what the reasons are, swimming has some advantage that no other exercise can replace. First of all, water somewhat defy gravity and let our body joints and muscle freely move, so patients with muscle or joints problems, or injured limbs take swimming as their best choice of exercise and even "movement". Furthermore, unlike walking or running, which use mostly a few parts of your body, swimming uses the whole body including arms, legs, back, stomach and all major group of muscles, so it's the most balanced exercises. Swimming doesn't give as much pressure as other exercises to circulation system and joints.

Doctors usually suggest people who has arthritis or body injury to swim, because this is the best method  increasing the amount of exercise with minimum strikes to the body. According to some sports specialist, swimming in correct poses is almost the only exercise that doesn't cause injury to our body, because water almost make our body weightless. There is only 10% of active force of the land, so the pressure to our joints is very small as well. Some handicapped people go swimming like a fish everyday and totally get rid of the limitation of their injured body.

Can swimming lose some weight? Consistent swimming can really tone up our muscle and get rid of fat, but weight is different. Muscle is heavier than fat so swimming may actually gain some weight. Since cold water makes our brain senses hunger after swimming to tell our body to eat a good meal. If we eat more than necessary after swimming, it could be worse. However, if we can control our calorie intake, swimming does burn more fat than running. A specialist indicated that water is 775 times heavier than air, swimmers has to burn 25% more calories than normal runners to resist the water pressure.

The most appealing says of swimming is that swimmers look younger than their real age. Also, the author of The Complete Book of Swimming, P. Whitten also indicates that swimming reduce fat and blood pressure, increase good cholesterol , hence reduce the  chances of heart diseases, diabetes and some cancers.

5Oct/09Off

Hand Acupressure/Reflexology for high blood pressure, part 1

After a whole week of flu, I finally can come back to the monitor and write again. When I was coughing, I tried the hand acupressure I wrote about a while ago as well. And it did relieve my cough a bit, but the treatment took quite long to make it work.

Anyway, as I've been doing lately, I'm going to talk about hand acupoints for high blood pressure in first part, and reflexive area in the second part. High blood pressure means the blood flow in our body doesn't go well because of certain resistance, and cause the heart to pump harder and give higher pressure to keep the blood flowing. The causes of high blood pressure vary. Most of the time is caused by other health problems, but overweight and inappropriate diet can also be catalysts of high blood pressure.

High blood pressure can cause some self aware symptoms like headache, shoulder stiffness, tinnitus, palpitation etc. But the most scary one would be arteriosclerosis caused by high blood pressure. It's because when blood pressure is high, the arteries of the whole body will have to share the extra pressure evenly, some blood vessels get weaker and may cause stroke or myocardial infarction (MI)

Treatment of high blood pressure is usually taking medicine to control the pressure. But we can't ignore the side effects of these medicines. So acupuncture and acupressure on acupoints would probably be a more natural treatment. There are 3 acupoints on the back and the side of the hands. The first one is called "Yang Xi", which locates on the inner side of the wrist under the root of thumb, where the concave area is.  The second one is called "He Gu" on the back of the hand in between the thumb and the index finger,  locates at about the length of the first segment of the thumb counting inward. The third one is called "Luo Ling Wu" on the back of the hand in between the knuckles of index finger and middle finger. Most high blood pressure patient can feel the little pulse at those acupoints, so it's not too difficult to find them. (See diagrams)

Here is the guide to stimulate those acupoints using finger massaging or rubbing, if problem is serious, use a bunch of 10 toothpicks or pointy device to stimulate:

1. Maximum blood pressure > 160mm reading on the meter: stimulate the first one "Yang Xi"

2. Maximum blood pressure > 180mm reading on the meter: stimulate the second one "He Gu"

3. Maximum blood pressure > 200mm reading on the meter: stimulate the third one "Luo Ling Wu"

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13Sep/09Off

Single-herb formula to treat Arteriosclerosis

Arteriosclerosis, commonly known as hardening of the arteries, is a condition in which the arteries lose elasticity because of calcium deposits within their lining or because of muscle and elastic fibers being replaced by fibrous tissue. Both types can be characterized by a thickening of the arteries walls and a narrowing of their channels, hence causes hypertension. The inefficient blood circulation through arteries can cause bigger concern when it affects the coronary artery that delivers blood to the heart.

Arteriosclerosis happens to mostly older people, but it can affect any age who doesn't care much about their health, with regard to diet and exercise. To improve circulation and keep the arteries elastic, traditional Chinese medicine suggests herbal therapy, walking, massage and certain gentle exercises like Tai Chi (a gentle martial art). And low cholesterol diet can help reducing its deposits narrowing the channels of the arteries. Red meat, dairy products, salt, refined sugar and alcohol should be avoided. Obesity and smoking also make arteriosclerosis worse.

There's a single-herb formula recommended by TCM to treat arteriosclerosis, and the herb is called "Shan Zha" in Mandarin (山楂), which is known as Hawthorne Berry or Hawthorn fruit.  It tastes sweet and sour and you can even find some very nice snacks made of Shan Zha in Chinese grocery stores. One of the famous snack is called Haw Flakes. There are also Shan Zha patent medicine as well.

Shan Zha tea (Hawthorn Berry Tea)

Ingredient: 15 grams of Shan Zha (Hawthorn fruit)

Description: Take Shan Zha tea several times a day is an effective way to reduce fatty lipids in the blood, lower cholesterol and softens the arteries. This formula should be used for a long period of time like 2 to 3 years. Shan Zha also improves digestion and circulation of blood, help hypertension and coronary heart disease.

Preparation: Use a tea cup, add 8 oz of boiling water to about 2 teaspoons of Shan Zha; cover the coup and wait for 10-15 minutes. Strain off the Shan Zha herb and drink the tea.

(sources: Chinese Herbal Medicine made easy by Thomas Richard Joiner, Streetwise Guide: Chinese Herbal Medicine by Wong Kang Ying and Martha Dahle)