help you to keep track of your health


Dr. Ni’s funny comments on certain patients he refuses to treat

If you guys remember, I posted something about Chinese doctor Dr. Ni, like his view on alternative healing in America and his rules of thumb for patients. He's very good at Healthy Check, but the way he presents in his articles are always controversial and emotional. I read a list about what kinds of patients he refuses to treat and made me giggle. Somehow I understand why he set the list, but it's still quite funny and a little vigorous.

1. People who request that they can recover the next day taking Chinese medicine or acupuncture. These actually don't believe in traditional Healthy Check at all.

2. Patients who have doubt and suspect the doctor.

3. Taking western medicine while taking Chinese medicine at the same time.

4. Patients who know about simple Chinese medicine and keep questioning about the prescriptions.

5. Patients who don't take medicine in a timely manner.

6. Patients who listen to the Chinese pharmacists more than the Chinese doctor and let the comments from pharmacists intercept the prescriptions.

7. Patients who don't listen to the suggestions from the doctor and think taking medicine can heal everything. For example, liver cirrhosis is caused by alcohol, but if the patient still drink even after taking medicine, how could he be healed?

8. Patients who repeat asking the same questions - which means they don't trust the doctor.

9. When the patient got serious health problem, he/she just listens to whoever's suggestions and take a lot of different medicine without any caution.

10. Patients who take a lot of unnecessary diet supplements and vitamins - they come to the doctor when they're sick, but still ask the doctor what supplements and vitamins they can still take - these people are causing more unnecessary troubles to their health.

11. Patients who got so nervous coming to the Chinese doctor after seeing western doctor and found out their health problem, and consider that as an emergency. That actually means they still trust western doctor better.

12. Patients who tried chemotherapy or certain western treatments first before coming to Chinese doctor. Because if they don't get cured, they just blame Chinese doctor and never blamed the western treatment.

Dr. Ni said he refuses to treat these 12 kinds of patients and he suggests that all traditional Chinese doctors should avoid these patients as well because these patients won't thank the doctors at all even if they're healed. If they don't get cured, it's the Chinese doctors fault. They never consider how they get the disease. However when they go to the western doctors, they'll listen to whatever they say like a pet.

It sounds a bit harsh to a lot of people, but the conclusion here is all about trust and confidence with Healthy Check. I'd say if you really want to try Healthy Check methods, you just have to believe it and give full respect, or it's better don't bother trying at all.


6 signs to tell that you’re healthy again by Dr. Ni

Last post I talked about some rules of thumbs from Dr. Ni. I've been reading a speech he gave in Los Angeles a while ago. Certain things I kind of mentioned in my blog before that are quite similar. I'll take part of the speech that talked about how traditional Chinese doctor of Northern China decide whether you're healthy or not and translate for you guys:

  1. Sleep well without any interruption and wake up in the morning. However, if you can't sleep because you argue with your husband or wife, that's normal.
  2. Normal appetite. That doesn't mean a good appetite that keeps you eating. That means it's just about right enough to satisfy you. Not an appetite that keeps you want more food.
  3. The first thing wake up in the morning is a bathroom break to take a deuce. Breakfast after that.
  4. 5-7 times urination per day. Urine volume should be large, color should be light yellow.
  5. No matter what season or where you are, head/face/body stay cool, while limbs like hands feet, arms and legs are warm.
  6. In the morning, male have an erection while female has a sensitive breast as well.

When you take Chinese treatments whether it's herbs or acupuncture, once all these 6 good signs appear, that means you're quite healthy. If not, that means you're in a wrong medical direction.

If I found something more that's interesting in the speech and I can translate (actually that's quite a difficult task), I'll continue.


Make alternative healing become mainstream, discussion part 4

I continued reading the Chinese article written about American's health by an acupuncturist. His words are pretty strong, and there may be some bias too. But honestly I have found some of those interesting and convincing.

He said overweight is basically a tough health issues among Americans. One of the major cause of this is drinking too much milk! (Well, when we see "Got Milk?" all the time, we can't imagine someone actually point out milk is one of the cause of overweight, which leads to a lot of health problems. Next to milk is fast food, which we probably already knew. Milk is making most people grow big like cows, which may be what it was intended to do. It seems to be better now since low fat milk and no fat milk are available. But many people still like whole fat milk, and use half and half for other foods and beverage.

Another problem is drug abuse. He's not talking about the illegal drugs, he's talking about over-the-counter drugs. Like taking sleeping pills to help sleeping, like taking painkillers whenever we feel any unbearable (or even bearable) pain. These are what causing depression and kidney problems.

Some people also rely on vitamins when they found their stamina is declining. They don't blame on overweight or lack of exercise. Instead, they think they're lacking of vitamins and take multiple vitamins for that. However, taking too much vitamins is going to feed the bad cells, like cancer. Some cancers like prostate cancer and breast cancer can come from that. If we don't change our diet and habits, all of the above would definitely do us more harm than good.

He made a strong statement on chemotherapy. Although I think it's bias, I can't really argue with him. He said if chemotherapy can really treat cancer, let's try to find a healthy young man to take chemotherapy for six months and see how he's going to be. He said this young man is definitely going to be weak as if he's going to die. If we use chemotherapy on cancer patients, we can see how effective it's going to be. If that's the case, why do we spend that much money on these services? He also said he's happy to see President Obama and some authorities starting to find out there's a new direction. If alternative healing really becomes mainstream, it's going to change the whole world, not just America.

Chinese have a saying to describe Western medicine: "Cure the head when there's a headache; Heal the feet when they feel pain." That may be a little bias, but somehow this is the impression among Chinese. However, Western medicine has a much organized system to follow while Chinese medicine is not organized very well. That's what making traditional Chinese medicine hard to promote. Hopefully this will change someday. When we think about it, if a few needles can heal some diseases, why do we need pills?


Make alternative healing become mainstream, discussion part 3

In part 1. I posted an article written by a few wise medical authorities called "Alternative Healing is mainstream". In part 2, I showed my support to the integration of alternative healing and making these healing methods more popular. I'm not even a doctor myself, but I know a few TCM doctors who can give thousands of examples on how Healthy Check works with "the power of simple, low-tech and low-cost" as said in the article. One of the examples I heard was from an acupuncturist. There's a middle aged guy whose three coronary arteries are already congested. He was arranged to have a coronary artery bypass surgery. However, in a physical check right before the operation, they found that one of his kidneys totally malfunctioned, so the operation got canceled to avoid the risk of dying in the operation room. However, after he went home, his friend knew about his situation and then recommended him an acupuncturist. The day when he came to the acupuncture office he was so painful on the chest, and couldn't stop the shallow and difficult breaths and of course, very nervous. The acupuncturist just had him lay down, just right after a few needles pinched into the acupoints, the chest pain is gone. After a deep breath, he told the acupuncturist that he never felt that well with his heart. 20 minutes later after pulling off the needles, he's so happy that he just knew he's already much better. He told the acupuncturist that usually he had to stop and take a breath every 10 steps. Just right after this treatment he could already walk without stopping at all. He was so surprised that acupuncture can be so efficient. When he found out the bill was just $50. He was even more amazed. If he take the surgery just for a reduction of pain, it's going to cost him $50,000. And even after the surgery, the congestions still occur, and he knows few years later he'll have to do it again. 10 days later, he faxed and told the acupuncturist after the last session and take some herb medicines, his chest pain is totally gone, and he can walk like usual and can even do some exercise. He went to the hospital and had check up. Suddenly there were no more congestion in the coronary arteries.  He immediately questioned why American medical system never use acupuncture to treat heart problems. Because it's efficient and much more affordable. There's no side effects and no need to cut a hole on your chest. This is just one of the stories the acupuncturist talked about. The point of this example here is not about how great this acupuncturist is, it's about how this example tells the new hope of the future. The economy can recover much quicker if our burden of medical expense is relieved by alternative healing methods, and President Obama probably already knew that. Alternative healing may be used as an option for bargain against the American medicines.


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.


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.


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)


How to find out if you pick the right medicine or a right doctor

I recently read a Chinese article written by a traditional Chinese medicine doctor and found it interesting. It's about how we know if we find the right doctor, right treatment or right medicine. Of course, this doctor didn't say he's the best. Rather, he respect whatever treatment or whoever we believe in. The point he's trying to make is to tell us how to indicate by ourselves that we're really getting proper treatment and are going on the right direction. I'll try to translate what he said here.

There are so many diet supplements, Qi Gong classes, and certain doctors are exaggerating how good their treatments are. All these various methods, classes, medicines and supplements are making people wondering which one is working for them. It really doesn't matter which method people believe and insist on trying, as long as it benefits the patient, any kinds of treatment should be respected. However, if those treatments are not working and makes the patients waste a lot of money and most importantly, miss the best timing for the cure, that's going to be the worst.

Actually, there's a simple indication in general to differentiate what works and what doesn't. And the plan is to continue the treatment if the indicator shows that it works, stop the treatment if it's the opposite. Here is the indicator: a healthy person always feel warm with the limbs, and relatively cooler on the face and the head. If limbs are getting cold, that means sickness is already there in the body. So when we don't feel well for whatever reason, the limbs will be colder than usual. Then after you start the treatment with medicines / vitamins / diet supplements / exercises / herbs / Qi Gong / surgery / chemical therapy / acupuncture etc, if your limbs are feeling even colder, that means those treatments fail. If your limbs are starting to feel warmer, that means those treatment works, and you're on the right track of recovery.

So sometimes whenever a person tells you that "I'm taking XXX supplement", ask this person if his/her limbs feel colder or warmer after taking it. If the answer is colder, that means this supplement is not just fail on this individual, it even "feeds" the potential disease like cancer and virus. Same theory, if the Qi Gong master or the TCM doctor or the acupuncturist makes the limbs feel from cold to warm, that means they're good for the patient and fit the needs. If it's the opposite, the patient better switch to some other treatments.


Introduction to Ginseng, part 3, processing, tips on purchase and use


Ginseng root is sold in many different forms, from whole roots to processed medicines, candies and even cosmetics. American Ginseng is usually sold thin slices or short dried roots. Some are processed into tea packets and just consumed directly like normal herb tea. I always have some American ginseng tea packets in my cabinets in case I feel tired.

Processing of Korean or Chinese ginseng is more complicated, and depends on the origin (wild or cultivated), age, method and where the production takes place. The first step is usually the same: fresh roots are carefully dug and gently brushed to remove soil without any damages on the precious rootlets.

White ginseng  refers to roots that are less than six years old. Since the quality is not the best, they are bleached with sulfur gas and sun-dried. Normally they rarely get exported from Korea.

Red ginseng must be at least four years old, but usually is more than six. There are various methods of processing, such as steam heating for several hours and a final drying over low heat or in the sun. The best whole roots are bound with fine white string in order to keep all the rootlets intact. These finest ginseng roots are very expensive.


For both American and Korean ginseng, the untouched, whole root or root pieces are the best for purchase. Keep the root skin intact is very important for the quality because ginseng's most valuable elements lie in the dark, exterior skin. The larger and the more the Korean roots look like a human form, the more expensive they are. However, the far cheaper rootlets may be actually chemically more valuable because the surface area is larger in ratio to volume, although some say that these rootlets are "colder" than the main stem in terms of properties.


When taking ginseng, avoid taking Vitamin C (including fresh fruits), avoid eating cooked radish, and never drink tea at the same time. These three things will reduce the efficiency of the ginseng. Also, it's not recommended to take Korean ginseng every day as it's going to produce "heat" in the body and makes it "overheat". American ginseng is better as daily tonic over a longer period. I posted recipe for Korean ginseng chicken soup a while ago.

(sources:  Streetwise Guide: Chinese Herbal Medicine by Wong Kang Ying and Martha Dahle)


Introduction to Ginseng, part 2, therapeutic properties and uses

Since long time ago, both Chinese and American ginsengs have been widely used as medicine. They have often served in the treatment of many of the same bodily disorders.  In China, the history of using ginseng has been recorded for more than 4000 years. The look of ginseng looks quite like human body, that's why all sorts of myths about ginsengs that are over thousand years old can become fairies. On the other hand, there are also many legends and stories saying that ginseng was a gift given to men by the fairies. That's why portrayals of fairies have been used traditionally as decorations on packages and advertisements of ginsengs, especially for Korean products.

The uses of ginseng are wide. Chinese doctors treat different health issues ranging from dysentery, malaria, cancer and diabetes, as well as to improve circulation of blood; to reduce high blood pressure, and to remedy almost all blood and skin diseases, from pimples and boils to anemia.  Ginseng is known as "Herb of Eternal Life" and the "Elixir of Life" among people, and it's taken as a general tonic to enhance health and longevity.

The fundamental value of ginseng is its great ability to detoxify and normalize the entire system, or we can say to increase vital energy. It re-establishes the organ's functions, corrects disordered nutrition and metabolism, and purifies the blood and lymphatic systems. The effect of ginseng works slowly and gently, without much side effects.

After some research by Japanese, Chinese and Russian scientists since mid-1900s, some spectacular chemical properties were found in Ginseng. Many of ginseng's essentials are chemically unique and were given names derived from the genus name. "Panacene" is tranquilizer and pain reliever; "Panaxin" stimulates the brain, improves muscle tone and tunes up the cardiovascular system; "Panquilon" stimulates the endocrine secretions, such as pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands) which in turn regulate different body processes from digestion to aging. Also, ginseng contains a range of B vitamins, significant amounts of minerals and enzymes. "Germanium" is also an essential element which has been shown clinically effective in treating anemia by stimulating the formation of red blood cells in bone marrow, and is being investigated as a cure for cancer.

In Hong Kong, Korean and American ginseng are used quite differently. American Ginseng is more for general purposes, for both acute and chronic diseases, because it nourishes in general as a whole and has fewer side effects. Korean ginseng is usually used in cases of "yang deficiency". So old man with "yang" diminishing along with age during winter (a "yin" season") specifically find it beneficial. If "yang" is too much, like if it's taken by young people or in summer, "hot" symptoms such as headache, mouth ulcers and insomnia can happen.

(sources: Streetwise Guide: Chinese Herbal Medicine by Wong Kang Ying and Martha Dahle)


Introduction to Ginseng, part 1

Other than Lingzhi, Ginseng rank the second or almost the first among Chinese herbs. In Chinese history, ginseng has been a legendary herbal medicine that can almost turn death back alive. Of course, those were all myths but you can tell how ginseng became one of the group of medical herbs that are highly respected. It's properties are great for regulating body function, like a big tune up of your body. After western medicine did a lot of research on ginseng, it was told that these properties are due to chemical constituents that are similar to hormones.  Now there are mostly three ginsengs on the market, two of which belong to the genus Panax. "Panax" comes from the Greek "pan" and "akos", meaning a cure-all medicinal herb. There are many species of this genus, the following three are commonly cultivated and marketed.

Chinese or Korean ginseng (Panax Ginseng)

高麗參,人參  (Mandarin: Gao Li Shen, Ren Shen; Cantonese:  Go Lai Sum, Yun Sum)

This is the most commonly used and marketed of the Panax species. It's now cultivated in northern China and Korea. The myths and stories of ginseng mostly referred to this species. It's best for senior people. There was a post I talked about Korean Ginseng Chicken soup.

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium)

花旗參 (Mandarin: Hua Qi Shen; Cantonese:  Fa Kay Sum)

This grows wild on the forested mountain slopes in eastern North America, mostly in Wisconsin. It keeps you awake and reduce your "heat". The function is quite different from Korean ginseng.

Russian or Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

俄羅斯/西伯利亞參 (抽參)(Mandarin: Chou Shen; Cantonese:  Chau Sum)

Although it's in the same family as true ginseng,  this herb belongs to another genus. It's chemistry and therapeutic properties are similar to true ginseng.

(sources:  Streetwise Guide: Chinese Herbal Medicine by Wong Kang Ying and Martha Dahle)