Ask anyone who’s ever had acupuncture for pain and their report will most likely be enthusiastic. In fact, a 2012 "meta-analysis" of scientific studies demonstrated that acupuncture is very effective for pain relief (see the NYTimes' Acupuncture Provides True Pain Relief in Study).Read More
When life is interrupted by sudden sneezing or a sore throat, you can easily make the following at home from common pantry items: • For common cold with runny nose, chills, head/neck ache, but no sore throat: Sweat it out with a soup of fresh ginger, scallion, cilantro, cabbage, and cayenne (high in vitamin C). Drink cinnamon stick tea (gui zhi) or fresh ginger tea (sheng jiang) with brown sugar. Avoid cold foods like salad, iced drinks and ice cream (sorry!). This is called "wind-cold" in Chinese medicine and is the most common type of cold.
• For swollen sore throat, bodyache, fever and possibly a cough: Drink tea made from a Chinese herb like peppermint (bo he). Chrysanthemum tea (ju hua) is also great but you might have to make a trip to the Asian market. Keep food intake light, drink lots of fruit and veggie juices, and add honey to your tea. This is called "wind-heat" and can correspond to the flu or tonsillitis in Western parlance.
The use of herbs, whether animal, vegetable or mineral, is an essential part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and generally produces zero side effects. Most often, we combine herbs in a formula of 4-15 ingredients customized to the individual. You might be familiar with many of the following herbs used in TCM. I’ve listed their common uses and pinyin names.1. Cinnamon (gui zhi and rou gui): common cold with chills; arthritis; type 2 diabetes. Daily use has been shown to lower blood sugar, triglycerides and cholesterol levels just as well as the class of drugs known as statins. (Best to use medicinal extracts, not the powder from the spice rack.)
2. Hawthorn (shan zha): high blood pressure; coronary artery disease; high cholesterol
3. Fresh ginger (sheng jiang): nausea; upset stomach; morning sickness; motion sickness; common cold with chills; cough
4. Mint (bo he): common cold with fever and sore throat; headache; rashes
5. Licorice (gan cao): diarrhea; cough; asthma; ulcers; leg spasms; high cholesterol. (Taken long-term, licorice can cause high blood pressure and/or water retention, so only use under the care of a licensed acupuncturist.)
6. Watermelon (xi gua): summertime colds, when it's hot and humid out
7. Hemp seed (huo ma ren): constipation
8. Jujube (da zao): fatigue; low appetite
9. Barley malt sugar, or maltose (yi tang): low appetite; dry cough
10. Gelatin (e jiao): dizziness; palpitations; chronic bleeding; dry cough
11. Garlic (da suan): diarrhea; flu prevention
12. Ginseng(ren shen):Like caffeine, the famous ginseng, sold in tiny bottled “shots” even at the local convenience store, is a stimulant that increases energy. It has been widely studied and shown to be beneficial to people with diabetes, peptic ulcers, stress, anxiety, fatigue and wheezing. The herb should only be taken in consultation with a TCM practitioner, however, as it can also act as a sedative, increase blood pressure, and cause headache, insomnia and/or palpitations in people for whom it is not indicated (in other words, who don’t have a problem where ginseng would be useful).
If acupuncture is thousands of years old, what did they use for needles back then? Early on, stone tools were used for medicinal purposes and over time were formed into thin needles. Next they were made from bone and bronze. In the 2nd century BC, needles began to be made using gold and silver. Today, we use stainless steel needles that are sterile, filament-thin, flexible, single-use, and relatively painless. They are properly disposed of after every treatment.
In May 2009 I was invited to join the Board of Directors of theCalifornia State Oriental Medical Association (CSOMA), the oldest and largest professional organization of licensed acupuncturists in California. Members are dedicated to the preservation and advancement of the art, science, and practice of Asian medicine, thereby enhancing the health and well-being of the general public.
I will serve as Chair of the Publications Committee, working to strengthen communication between CSOMA and people interested in research, clinical therapies, current events, historical perspectives and advocacy for the profession.
Posted by Kristin Ebbert, M.S., L.Ac.
In mid-November I traveled to Cuba to attend a natural medicine conference in the small city of Santa Clara, about three hours southeast of Havana. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to travel in a country I love (I had been there once before in 2000), and to meet doctors and health care specialists who have integrated a wide range of so-called medicina bioenergética into their Western medical system, including acupuncture, homeopathy, flower remedies, osteopathy, iridology, hypnosis, heat therapy, bee venom, and magnets. (The U.S. Department of the Treasury grants a small number of licenses to full-time professionals traveling to Cuba for meetings and conferences.)
"NATUROSALUD 2008: The 7th International Congress of Bioenergetic, Traditional & Natural Medicine" was held at a small convention center in the countryside. There were a hundred participants from Latin America, South America and Spain, and no running water! (We managed somehow.) I was the only person from the U.S.
I had been particularly interested in traveling to Cuba because it is the only Western country that mandates that complementary therapies be a part of every medical school curriculum. Unfortunately, Cuba's "green medicine" was born more from the economic collapse of the early 1990s, when Cuba lost the support of the Soviet Union and access to imported medicine almost overnight, than from any holistic trend. Acupuncture training was first established in military hospitals and the use of herbal medicine increased in rural areas.
Now, all Cubans now have access to acupuncture, homeopathy, physical therapy, and herbal medicine when they need it, and there's a strong chance that these therapies will survive even as Cuba's economy and access to pharmaceuticals hopefully improve in the coming years. All of us in the health professions should learn from this system so that we provide our citizens with a more affordable, preventative and natural approach to quality healthcare, especially in hard times. Ojalá!
Posted by Kristin Ebbert, M.S., L.Ac.