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17Oct/09Off

Make alternative healing become mainstream, discussion part 2

In the last post I posted an article written by a few wise medical authorities called "Alternative Healing is mainstream". To save our country in long term, or even in the short-term, I do hope President Obama will put some efforts on promoting alternative healing methods, while he's still fighting for healthcare of all public against the medical companies. Again, the huge medical expense can be reduced by just switching healing methods, especially the huge expense paying the medical professionals who take care of the chronic disease patients. A lot of studies already prove that traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, acupressure and Qi Gong can relieve those chronic pain. As Healthy Check being much more cost effective compared to the expensive medical care in America, President Obama should really find out a way to intergrate both Chinese and American medical system so that we can make medical insurance more affordable. Honestly, if more resources can be put on alternative healing research including Healthy Check and natural ways of healing from other countries, it's going to change the health of western world from the basis and save the medical budgets for at least 80%. We already the average life span of Asians are longer than Americans and Europeans. The longevity is not based on the cutting edge medical technology and equipments, it's based on the natural healing and health protection. Of course, we know Western medicine has their incomparable value, especially in the surgery areas. However, there's an old saying that said, "Prevention is always better than cure." And alternative healing is definitely great in terms of preventive medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine especially recommends, "Cure before the disease." It means not just to have a regular physical check, but cure yourself regularly with decoctions, diet, exercise, acupressure, Qi Gong etc. It's just a matter of whether Americans can believe these or not.

Health insurance policy for retired seniors now is ridiculous. It's like you either a very poor senior with no properties, no income and nothing to get healthcare, or you retire rich that you don't ever have to worry about your healthcare. For most people in the middle class, who own something but getting old, the health insurance is so ridiculously hard to afford. If this direction keeps going wrong like that and the medical companies keep making profits for investors without thinking what medicines are really for, someday, or even now, America will be so screwed.

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)

4Sep/09Off

Hand Acupressure for cough and sneezing, part 1

The symptoms of cold and flu are mostly fever, cough and sneezing. To cure flu or cold, enough rest and nutrition awareness are most needed. However, in order to stop those annoying coughs and sneezes, we can stimulate the relevant acupressure point called "Tai Yuan" on your wrists.

Most acupoints or acupressure points for healing cough and sneezes are mostly on the face and neck. Someday other than foot acupressure and hand acupressure, I'll talk about acupressure points over the other parts as well.  In the mean time for hand acupressure, we just need to know "Tai Yuan" is also an effective acupoint for relief of cough and sneezes. To find "Tai Yuan", bend your wrist and you see the inner wrinkle of the wrist. Touch it and you can feel the pulse. Use a lighted cigarette as heated source  to approach that point for 3-7 times without burning your skin. Or use a pointy device to stimulate 7-10 times. If there are no device at all, massage that point until the area around that point feels the heat.  When doing stimulation of "Tai Yuan", make sure you bend your wrist outward to make it easier to find and approach the acupoint. See the diagrams below:

cough_acupointcough_mox

We'll continue to talk about the reflexive area to relieve cough, sneezes and nose bleeding tomorrow in part 2.

29Aug/09Off

Introduction of Foot Acupressure – Reflexology

reflexology01_x

About a month ago I posted about 12+2 meridians or channels carrying Qi and Blood Flow, and the 365 major acupoints (or acupuncture points, or "xue dao" in Mandarin). About two weeks ago I talked about hand acupressure and some techniques for healing some common illness like toothache, diarrhea or motion sickness through massaging the reflexive area or the stimulating certain acupoints. Before I list more different illnesses that can be healed through the hands, I decided to introduce foot acupressure as well, so I have both to talk about later.

The therapy on feet are actually the same on the hands. The healing based on the stimulation of the reflexive areas (or reflecting areas, reflective areas....whatever they're called in English) is called reflexology. Usually stimulations include massage, acupuncture, acupressure, moxabustion etc. The purpose is to adjust the function of internal organs and enhance the flow of Qi and blood through the meridians. Basically I kinda talked about all these in the introduction of hand acupressure.

There are about 20% of major acupoints on our feet and legs. Massaging these areas and stimulating those points not only can cure common illness like headache or toothache, even high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes these serious diseases can be controlled and relieved. Foot or hand acupressure therapy doesn't have any side effects and always safe. Not just the hands, feet work as a forecast for our health as well.

When we're done with exercises, massaging our legs and feet not only help us to avoid the sore, we're actually helping the internal organs and Yin Yang balance as well. Foot acupressure can be done by ourselves without others help, anywhere and anytime we like.

I bought a "carpet with rocks" which is actually made for foot acupressure therapy. Walking on this carpet is painful, but it's also a nice therapy for our health. If you walk on some little stones and you find your feet really painful, that means your health is just so-so. If you feel ok, that means you're quite healthy. I'll try to post the photo of this thing I bought and talk about this later. Also I'll talk about the techniques of massage on foot as well.

(Sources: Diagram from tcmadvisory.com/Reflexology)

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)