Balance and Connectedness -Part 2 on Emotions and Health

Generation wheel

Are you familiar with the expression “Too much of a good thing, eventually turns into a bad thing?” In almost all cases, if you end up actually getting too much of the good thing, it loses its allure and succumbs to the laws that guide the natural balance in the universe. These laws aren’t something that are created or destroyed, they simply exist, and all things in the universe are subject to these laws of balance. Regardless of whether or not you acknowledge this balance, it exists as one of the most basic underlying fabrics of our universe.

This universal balance is created by a flow that moves between all the things connected by it. When there are blockages or excess, an imbalance is created. However, due to the natural laws that govern the balance, the imbalance is often corrected or adjusted by a shift or change in flow. The flow is always moving to restore a harmonious balance.

Speaking in concrete examples, this balance could be something as fundamental as feeling hungry and satiating the hunger by eating. If you never felt hungry, you couldn’t fully experience the feeling of being satisfied by eating. It’s the basic logic behind the idea that happiness and sadness would not exist without one another.

Traditional Chinese medicine was developed, over centuries, by applying this same idea of balance and flow to the internal organs and systems that comprise our bodies. Over the years they were able to develop a more intricate understanding of the relationship between our emotions, organs and internal systems.

In a lot of modern medical practices it’s typical to think of and treat these systems, organs, and functions as individual entities. We often neglect to look much further than the immediate ailment when seeking a cure or alleviation. To gain a better, clearer understanding of the root causes of a current ailment or chronic condition, it’s important to develop a more holistic mindset to create a better approach to healing.

To truly begin understanding how traditional Chinese medicine improves emotional, mental and physical healing, it’s important to take a look at how our bodily systems have been categorized and paired. Based on the long history of the alternative medical approaches utilized in traditional Chinese medicine, they have paired each organ with a corresponding emotion, color, element and time of day.

The basic idea is that through careful assignment and understanding of these connections we can work towards developing our optimal harmonious balance. By learning how our emotions are tied to a particular organ we can start to uncover the true source of our physical and emotional ailments. For example, if you discover that anger, resentment, bitterness, frustration or irritability are dominate emotions in your life, then you make look to the health of your liver, as it is the organ associated with those emotions.

The health of the liver can also have a direct impact on the spleen, stomach, kidneys, lungs and gall bladder. Which would in turn, affect the emotions mostly closely associated with those organs. If you find yourself expressing or feeling the adage “I’m so angry, I can’t think straight.”, it is likely due to the health of the liver effecting the health of the gall bladder. In that situation, you are basically saying that you currently have the inability to make decisions (I can’t think straight) because you’re so angry.

In order to gain an even better understanding of how these emotions are connected and controlled by the physical organs, each organ has been assigned to one of five elements. The elements are earth, fire, water, wood and metal. The basic principle is that each element both controls and generates (or is a product of) the other. So, wood is used to create fire. Fire burns wood, which returns to the earth. Metal is a product that comes from earth and helps create the condensation, or water. Water is an essential component in the growth of wood. From there the cycle starts over.

On the flip side of that flow, is how the elements can also control one another. Earth can control the flow of water. Water is used to control fire and fire is used to control and create metal. Wood controls the perpetuation of earth.

By thinking about the elements in this type of arrangement we can see how they are connected and dependent on the flow between them to be harmonious. Since each organ is assigned to an element, it becomes much clearer how an imbalance between them affects the entire flow throughout your body. A major blockage or prolonged imbalance in one area can have a ripple effect on the entire system of organs and emotions.

In traditional Chinese medicine there are several different approaches or therapies that can be utilized for healing and understanding the connection between these intricate bodily systems. Acupuncture, herbal medicines and qigong are a few of the main therapies that are used to restore balance and remove blockages of the flow between organs.

Unfortunately, these types of therapies are often regarded as last attempt alternative medicines. However, as science has worked to explain many of these delicate, internal relationships, people are starting to discover and experience the vast benefits of incorporating them earlier in treatment regimens. Which is why it is important to recognize, regardless of the level of acknowledgment, the intricate flow between emotional and physical health exists as a fundamental foundation of our being. Therefore, we can look to improve both our emotional and physical health by seeking methods that remove blockages and restore a harmonious balance.

 

Elemental Wheel

How Emotions Affect Healing & Health -An Overview

flower

At some point, I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “You are what you eat”. We’re going to take that a step further and say, “You are what you think”. There are mountains of accumulating scientific research into the idea that our emotions and feelings have a major impact on our physical health, and vice versa. Martin Seligman, a PhD and expert in the field of positive psychology, says that “The data has grown year after year, and it’s become a scientific certainty.”

In its simplest form this would explain why you feel gloomy when you are coming down with a cold. If your body is sick, then your emotions and thoughts tend to reflect that fact as your body attempts to fight and recover from the illness.

Taking the logical approach, it is a well known fact that the human body is comprised of heaps of interconnected organs and living systems that work together to help you eat, digest, sleep, move, think, feel, react, protect and recover.

Based on this foundational premise, we can surmise that there are strong connections between these systems. For example, if you feel like you’ve just come down with the flu, you often stay in bed and rest. Not necessarily because that’s what you want to do, it’s all you feel like you can do. Your systems are working to recover and fight the sickness until you’re back to “normal”.

It’s also the motivation behind your doctors’ advice to “go home, rest, and take it easy for a few days.” You need to save your energy so that you will be on your way to a speedy recovery.

Think back to the last time you were sick. Did you feel like going to the gym or for a long run? Probably not.

Now, try to remember how you were feeling emotionally. Did you find your self laughing a lot or feeling jovial and ready to hang out with friends or feeling “down in the dumps”? In most cases, I would wager that you weren’t feeling like it was time to have a dinner party.

Like the connection between your environment and emotions, there is an even stronger connection between your physical health and emotions. In a study titled “How Positive Emotions Build Physical Health”, scientists collected data from measuring the vagal tone of participants in two groups; A control group, on a waiting list and a group that received instructions to raise their emotions to a positive nature by meditating on love and kindness. Over the course of the experiment, they discovered a strong connection between the increase in vagal tone and influx of positive and uplifting emotions.

Using the vagal tone to measure the impact of emotions eliminates the need for asking subjective and less scientific questions about participant’s emotions. In general feelings and emotions have such a broad range that it’s nearly impossible to quantify them verbally. In other words, happiness is different for everyone. The same goes for anger, sadness, depression and so on.

The vagal tone is used because it is a measurable biological process signifying the activity of the tenth cranial nerve situated in the medulla oblongata of the brainstem. This nerve is known as the vagus nerve. Basically, the vagus nerve is an extremely essential portion of your brain that helps regulate many of your internal body organs and functions that operate on a subconscious level. It’s the part of your brain that is telling your body to do things like breathe, digest and pump blood, among many other things. You aren’t actively telling your body to do these things, but they are still happening.

The vagus nerve also controls things like your adrenal glands and digestive tract. As you can imagine, from the previously mentioned study, the positive environment created an increase in vagal tone. Therefore, having a positive effect on the vast functions of the body controlled by the vagal nerve. In the end, the researchers concluded the data indicates that emotions positive in nature, affirmative social interactions, and the health of the body interact and affect one another in a self-generating upward spiral.

Of course, this would also mean that the opposite is true. A downward spiral in emotions, a traumatic life event, or even something as simple as dwelling on your feelings of depression for eight minutes can cause a significant delay in the recovery of emotional health and physical health.

This is why, in many cases, some people can recover faster from severe or chronic illnesses than others. Often, they involve their emotions, outlook, and thoughts in the healing process. There are many examples of this type of healing throughout history, especially, in ancient Chinese medicine. What they have been doing for thousands of years, we are just starting to prove with modern science. Your body does not operate in a vacuum of separate systems, it is a very complex and interconnected being that often requires a more diverse approach to treatment than simply taking some medicine.

The next time you are starting to feel sick, are experiencing some type of chronic pain or facing a serious illness, try taking a look at your body from a macroscopic view. What thoughts are dominating your brain? Are they positive or negative? Are you sitting around thinking about how much pain you are in or are you actively seeking redirection or positive distractions.

Try using the healing power of visualization or find a healer that will leave no stone unturned when trying to determine the cause of your poor health condition. Understanding that there are enumerable systems at work in your body. Examining your feelings could lead you to uncover a previous overlooked internal connection. It may also explain why local, symptomatic treatments can be ineffective or their healing powers short lived.

Be open to the idea that information about the function and health of your body flows, both from, and to your brain. Therefore, it is essential to maintain or seek to develop a positive outlook, reduce stress and have balanced emotions in order to fully heal and treat many illnesses.

Want to find out more? Check out the study. Here’s the link:

http://www.unc.edu/peplab/publications/Kok%20et%20al_psycscience_inPress.pdf

Homeopathic Medicine Explained

What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is considered to be a form of alternative medicine. However, this type of medicine has been around for over 200 years, almost as long as what we know as traditional medicine. This form of medicine involves treating patients with highly diluted substances that are then normally manufactured into pill or liquid form. In some cases the substances are diluted thousands upon thousands of times.

Homeopathy is basically the study and use of homeopathic medicines and those who practice homeopathy are called Homeopaths. Homeopathic remedies are based on the theory that “Like treats like” meaning that if you have a patient that is vomiting uncontrollably, you can treat that patient by giving them a diluted dose of a plant or other substance that would normally induce vomiting if given in a large quantity. You need to keep in mind that the homeopathy substance however has been diluted many, many times often thousands of times, so that only the “essence” of the substance is used and not the substance itself.

How are Homeopathy Remedies Made?

To better understand Homeopathic remedies themselves, you need to have a basic understanding how homeopathic remedies are made. These remedies are made using very strict guidelines that have been in effect for many years.

The remedies start with the homeopath choosing a plant or other natural substance, placing it in water or an alcohol solution and allowing it to set usually in a dark place for a certain specified amount of time. Once this period has passed, the substance itself is removed (unless it completely dissolves) and a liquid known as the mother tincture is left. The mixture is then vigorously shaken with impact, (called succussion) and one drop of this liquid is then placed in a vial and 9 drops of alcohol or still water is added. The mixture is then succussed again and diluted again the tincture reaches the desired dilution.

The solution is then converted to pill or kept in it’s likquid form and used to treat whatever disease the tincture was made for. There are a number of homeopathic doctors practicing all over the world today and thousands upon thousands of people who swear by homeopathic remedies.

Are Homeopathic Remedies Safe and Effective?

While there is some dispute among those favoring traditional medicine whether or not homeopathic medicine is effective, almost everyone agrees that these medicines are safe. In fact, one of the arguments against the effectiveness of this type of medicine is that the initial substance is so diluted that it no longer has the properties necessary to have any effect on the body or any medical condition. Ironically, while traditional doctors decry the use of homeopathy, they use similar versions of this type of medicine in treating various conditions.

For example, traditional medicine uses the theory of like treating like, in the treatments of ADHD. Ritalin and other prescription drugs used for the treatment of this condition, causes extreme hyperactivity, and an inability to focus in healthy people who take this drug. These are the symptoms that ADHD patients are being treated for.

In the case of vaccinations, traditional medicine uses a small dose of a disease to help prevent a person from catching the full blown disease.

The truth of the matter is there are thousands of people each year that turn to homeopathic medicines to help treat a number of different conditions and a large percentage of these people find this type of medicine to be effective in helping them to regain their health.

 

Acupuncture -Chiropractor vs Doctor/Diplomate of Oriental Medicine

Acupuncture is a complex science that is thousands of years old and is a therapy that is totally natural and drug free. During an acupuncture treatment, needles are inserted into various points in the body to treat almost any illness or relieve discomforts. It is a treatment that has long been practiced in China and there are different variations of acupuncture that are practiced throughout the world. Though acupuncture has been the subject of active scientific research, it still remains controversial treatment with conventional medical researchers and practitioners. Acupuncture due to its invasive nature of treatment makes it difficult to create studies that use proper scientific controls. The perception of the western world has changed and as people turn towards alternate forms of treatment, acupuncture is no longer dismissed as a folk remedy but is now considered as a scientific and valid form of medical therapy. A chiropractor who practices acupuncture is usually certified to perform acupuncture while a doctor/diplomate of Oriental medicine is a licensed practitioner. A chiropractor is a practitioner of medicine who deals with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system and may use acupuncture as an adjunct therapy to treat these disorders. A doctor of Oriental medicine, on the other hand, is a practitioner of medicine who not only uses acupuncture as a treatment of various ailments but is also versed in herbal medicine. Before a doctor of Oriental Medicine can attain a license to practice acupuncture, the practitioner must graduate from a state accredited school of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, which is a course lasting between 3 and 5 years. It includes graduate level education in both Western and Traditional Chinese medicine. It also requires the practitioner to get at least a Masters degree in Acupuncture and Oriental medicine. The whole course includes about 3000 hours of classroom and between 1000 and 2000 hours of supervised clinical internship. Diplomates/doctors of Oriental Medicine also have to pass both written and practical exams and are required to complete many hours of continuing education to maintain a license. A chiropractor who practices acupuncture, on the other hand, gets a certification by doing roughly 300-450 hours of classroom training. Chiropractors usually are not required to undergo any exams; nor do they have to complete any hours of internship or continuing education in acupuncture. Most of the certified practitioners of acupuncture use acupuncture as an alternative means to treat their patients. The main difference between the two is that doctors of Oriental medicine are fully qualified to diagnose, treat, and create individualized treatments plans using acupuncture, herbs, and bodywork to assist their patients on their roads to recovery. Chiropractors who have not completed the full training to become doctors/diplomates of Oriental Medicine typically use pre-established protocols and patterns during their acupuncture treatments instead of individualized treatment plans. Receiving acupuncture from either a doctor/diplomate of Oriental Medicine or a chiropractor can be beneficial and help patients during their healing journeys, yet sometimes, if the situation calls for it, patients may wish to consider utilizing the practitioners for their unique specialties. In other words, going to a chiropractor for acupuncture can be like going to a typical grocery store to purchase organic food. Sure, you can find organic food there, but your choices are usually more limited and may not be as fresh as the stores that specialize in organic products. Now you are more empowered when making decisions about your healthcare. Good luck!

Acupuncture -What to expect

Originating thousands of years ago, acupuncture is a safe and effective form of alternative medicine. It can treat a wide range of symptoms and illnesses and is used worldwide. The information below is intended to provide some basic information regarding what you might experience at your first visit to a practitioner of oriental medicine.

Your First Visit

Typically, your first visit will be longer than your follow-up visits. You can easily expect a first appointment to last around 1 1/2 hours.  The reasons for this is mainly due to your obligation to fill out of paperwork and the duty of the practitioner to ask you important and extensive questions.

As the practitioner gathers information about you and your reasons for visiting, you may be surprised by the types of questions you are asked. For example, you may be asked about your bowel movements, or about your temperature. Simultaneously, the practitioner will be asking to see your tongue and observing smells, as well as your overall appearance. These are all important clues for the doctor to help determine how he or she can best serve you. Another diagnostic tool to expect is pulse diagnosis. Using this method, the practitioner will feel your pulse in three different positions, at three different depths on each arm. You may think he or she is searching for your pulse, when in fact, he or she is feeling the quality of your pulse and making a diagnosis based on findings.

An incredible strength of oriental medicine lies in its ability to tailor each treatment to each individual. For this reason, people will often receive acupuncture for a specific complaint, but will also experience many other seemingly unrelated benefits.

Needles and Adjunctive Techniques

What are the needles like?

Acupuncture needles are thin and sterile. Actually, many people are surprised at their size. The needles can range in sizes, from 1/5 inch to much longer. But don’t worry, your practitioner will not insert a needle deeper than necessary.

What does it feel like?

Typically, when the needle is first inserted, you may feel a bit of pressure. Some people feel as though someone is tapping them. In some cases, you will feel a prick, and in others you will not feel anything at all. It’s not uncommon for people to ask the practitioner when he or she will begin inserting needles, only to learn that the needles are already in place.  Once the needles are inserted, the practitioner may manipulate the needles to activate the qi. At this time, you may feel tingling, distending, pressure, or a variety of sensations. Each person has their own unique way to feel upon the arrival of qi.

How long are the treatments?

A treatment can last anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes. Depending on the methods of the practitioner, and your individual case, this time may vary.

What other techniques may be part of my treatment?

Acupuncture is simply one tool practitioners of oriental medicine can choose to utilize. During an acupuncture treatment, an acupuncturist may use other therapies that can help assist in achieving lasting results.  These adjunct therapies may include the following:

Electro-acupuncture – an electrical device is hooked to the the acupuncture needles, from which electrical impulses are discharged. This is often used in patients dealing with pain, and for those in stroke rehab.

Moxibustion – this method involves burning of an herb called Artemesia Vulgaris. A practitioner may burn the moxa on the tip of a needle, or hold it over a patient’s skin. Moxibustion is often used in patients dealing with cold or stagnant conditions such as specific types of abdominal or muscular cramps.

Cupping – In this therapy, plastic or glass cups are placed on the body by using suction.  Cupping can help remove toxins and tension. They are used often in patients with immune issues such as a cold as well as for pain and muscle tension.

Tuina – used for a wide variety of conditions, Tuina is like a massage for the meridians.

Whatever treatment your practitioner recommends, you are in control. If something is uncomfortable, or if you feel it’s not working for you, be sure to communicate with your practitioner. Likewise, if you feel your treatment helped, speak up so that your practitioner can make note.

Enjoy!

Today’s Tidbit: Natural Remedy for Inflammation, Infections, & More!

Would you like to keep a remedy on your shelf that has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties?

You can! It’s called…drum roll please…

Olive Leaf Extract

This natural extract has been tested in laboratories and shows promise. Not only does it fight infection and reduce inflammation, it is also possesses a higher antioxidant capacity than green tea and vitamin C. It is believed by many to reduce blood pressure and contains important anti-cancer components. Too good to be true?  Don’t take my word for it. There are tons of articles and websites that explain the benefits of Olive Leaf Extract. Do some research.

While you’re at it, you may want to look up other remedies that are believed to have antibacterial and even antiviral properties. Want to know their names?  Here you go…

1)  LDM 100

2)  Manuka Honey  (When purchasing this, you should make sure it has an effective rating)

Happy researching!

 

 

P.S. Be sure to read my Medical Disclaimer on the Disclaimers & Notices page.