You probably notice that I am using a lot more moxa than usual in treatments lately. This is by design since for the next 5wks we are entering a very important time of the year.
To prevent disease in winter, treat in summer
This famous saying in Chinese Medicine means, for diseases which recur every winter, one may attempt to treat them in the summer. To fully understand this concept it is important to think about the nature of summer which is fire and yang while winter is cold and yin. Moxa which is a yang therapy is used to increase the reserves of yang in preparation for the winter months and as a result help prevent illnesses of the winter such as cold and flu.
So how does moxa do this? Scientific research on the actions of moxa show that it strengthens immune function by the release of compounds called histotoxin which increases Helper T cells, natural killer cells, as well as cytokines (INF-v, IL-2mRNA) in the lymph nodes. There is a great deal of research on moxa’s effects as an adjunct to cancer therapy, immune modulation, and increasing the body’s response to stress. Famous Japanese Doctor, Shimetaro Hara who lived to be 109yrs old and practiced medicine until he was 104 attributed his longevity to regular use of moxa.
Regular acupuncture and moxa treatments during the summer and autumn can keep you healthy and energetic during the winter.
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A couple of weeks ago I was doing an event and an elderly gentleman came up to me and said, "I do not believe in acupuncture!" Up until then, the event had been going well. "It exists," I said with a chuckle. He then asked, "What is the chance that you can hurt someone with those needles?" I responded, "Less than 1% and as a matter of fact only 86 people have died after acupuncture (mostly in China and Japan) in the last 45 years. Compare that with the large numbers of adverse events each year from Western Medicine. I ask you, which would you do?" His eyes were wide and he asked, "Could you treat my neck?" "Perhaps," I chuckled.
This incident really made it crystal clear that ordinary people off the street do not know as much about acupuncture as I thought they did, so the following are a couple of common questions I hear:
How does acupuncture work?
Answer: To tell you the truth no one really understands the mechanism behind acupuncture. However based on some of the current thinking, I look at it this way: The body is a closed circulation system and within this system there are blood circulation, nerve pathways, and the fascial matrix. So inserting thin acupuncture needles in this closed circulatory system results in the normalization of blood circulation, nerve impulses are regulated, pain modulating endorphins are released, and the fascial matrix relaxes, which as a result reduces pain and tension in the body.
What conditions are acupuncture used for?
Quick answer: Acute or chronic pain and stress.
Long Answer: Considering that it has been estimated that 75 – 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems, it is clear that acupuncture is beneficial for relieving stress as well as some of the consequences of stress such as headaches, insomnia, digestive disorders such as IBS, menstrual problems, depressed immune function, weight gain, and emotional disorders to name a few. As a matter of fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has compiled a list of symptoms, syndromes, disease processes, pathologies, traumas and conditions that have definitely been proven as effectively treated by acupuncture.
How many acupuncture treatments will I need in order to see results?
Answer: Acupuncture is a process in which there is a beginning, middle, and an end to treatment. The number of treatments needed depends on the condition and whether it is acute or chronic. In the beginning of treatment the frequency may be 2-3 times per week and then reduced to once a week as the symptoms improve. Eventually maintenance treatments once every 3-4wks may be performed if necessary. Usually results can be seen within 6-10 treatments however chronic or complicated conditions may require many more treatments.
So do you have any questions? If so please feel free to post them here or on the comments section on our Facebook page.
One of the most common reasons people seek acupuncture is hip and low back pain.
The following 3 stretches are what I suggest to patients and they see the results very quickly. These stretches can be done by anyone regardless of age, fitness, or time requirements and most importantly, do not require equipment. About 5 minutes several times throughout the day is all that is required.
This stretches the calf (Gastocnemius and Soleus mainly) and Achilles Tendon. As a result this stretch can relieve knee pain, hamstring tightness, pain in the bottom of the foot, and pain in the sacroiliac joint.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
This stretches the hamstrings (Biceps femoris, Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus) and as a result can relax the muscles of the low back.
Seated Lower Back Stretch
This stretches the muscles of the low back as well as the mid back.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)is a holistic system of medicine that is approximately 2500 years old. In TCM, an important guiding principle is “Yi bin tong zhi. Tong bing yi zhi.” This translates to “One disease, different treatments. Different diseases, one treatment.” So in TCM the treatment is based on pattern differentiation rather than disease. This makes sense since the disease is a manifestation of a patient’s unique pattern.
The treatment modalities in TCM can be grouped into three broad categories which are Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, and Lifestyle (which includes Qi Gong, Tai ji, dietary instructions, etc.).
Acupuncture can be considered a medicine of trajectory in which channels and points are selected based on the location of the disorder. So inserting thin acupuncture needles will affect the closed circulatory system which includes blood circulation, the nerve pathways, and fascial matrix. As a result blood circulation is normalized, nerve impulses are regulated, and the fascial matrix relaxes, reducing pain and tension in the body.
Herbal Medicine affects the internal physiology and pathology of a disorder. The appropriate formula is selected based on pattern differentiation. A skilled practitioner will determine the pattern using concise questioning, pulse diagnosis, as well as looking and listening to the patient. Just giving a formula to a patient just because they have a headache is no better than giving them an aspirin. It does not take into account the patient’s unique pattern that they are presenting with and ignores the guiding principle, “One disease, different treatments. Different diseases, one treatment.”
Christian Hoffert L.Ac.
Outside the world of Chinese Medicine, Christian enjoys hiking, trail running, reading, martial arts, and cooking.
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