Happy Independence Day

Happy Fourth

Happy Fourth from Eugene Oregon !

Happy Fourth of July from Open Sky Acupuncture in Eugene, Oregon! As we celebrate our independence as a nation, let’s also remember to strive for independence from all of our physical, mental and emotional issues. This is the crux of what Chinese Medicine and acupuncture therapy are designed to accomplish. This is the independence we were all meant to enjoy. Have a happy and safe holiday:)

Terry M. Chen, L.Ac.

Open Sky Acupuncture, Eugene OR

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Acupuncture Has Multiple Benefits

Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Eugene OregonOne of the most common questions I get from clients in my acupuncture clinic is “What does acupuncture treat?” The fact is that acupuncture can be beneficial for nearly anything that goes wrong with the health of the human body, not to mention mental health. The reason acupuncture is beneficial for such a wide variety of imbalances is that acupuncture is designed to help the body reach an overall equilibrium or balance. It is the goal of acupuncture treatment to restore overall balance rather than to attack a specific condition, and it is this approach that leads to such a wide range of benefits and allows acupuncture to treat so many conditions and types of illness. Here is a short but interesting recent article describing some of the multiple benefits of acupuncture treatment http://www.wral.com/carolina-partners-acupuncture/13196803/.

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Chinese Medicine and Mental Illness part IV

TCM and Mental Illness 4

Chinese Medicine and Mental Illness IV

According to Chinese Medical theory, the liver and the liver energy act as a general of the psyche. The liver energy is in charge of the planning and execution of life plans, projects and overall direction. Correspondingly, the liver is in charge of the smooth circulation of life energy or “chi” throughout the body’s energetic system: also known as the 12 regular and 8 extra meridians of Chinese energetic anatomy. When the liver energy is healthy and flowing smoothly, one has even energy coursing throught the body’s energetic system, and on a psycholgical level, is able to make and execute decisions easily in accordance with one’s life plans, goals and ambitions. In addition, healthy liver energy and adequate liver blood ensures proper sleep and overall emotional balance which are the foundation of effective execution of life plans.

In pathology, liver energy can be either deficient or stagnant. In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medical) theory, deficient liver energy corresponds with deficient liver blood and can lead to listlessness and depression in addition to the physical symptoms of dry eyes, hair and skin, frequent sighing, insomnia and exessive fatigue. If liver energy and blood are deficient one is unable to project their life energy properly in the advancement and completion of goals which leads to a depressive state. Liver stagnation or liver excess on the other hand, is a build up of energy that is unable to move freely or be adequately channeled into life goals. Emotionally liver energy excess leads to frustration, anger and hostility. Both liver deficiency and liver excess are effectively treated with acupuncture, herbs, dietary therapy and proper exercise.

In the realm of the human psyche, the heart plays the most central role according to TCM theory. The heart and heart energetic system is said to be the dwelling place of the mind and spirit, or “shen”, as it is termed in chinese. The mind or shen is the central force of our consciousness, personal identity, relationship to the divine and the center where all thinking and emotion is processed. While we have seen that each of the internal organ systems has emotions that are most closely associated with them, the heart is affected by all of the emotions and has the responsibility for maintaining emotional equilibrium in the overall psyche. Accoding to Giovanni Maciocia, it is essential to treat the heart in any presentation of mental and emotional disorder. When the heart energy and heart blood are in good order, a person is emotionally balanced, happy, at peace and clear minded. Imbalances of the heart center specifically include anxiety, insomnia and in excess cases, severe mental emotional disorders like mania, bipolar and schizophrenia. Again, in the case of excess or deficiency of heart energy, TCM has clear and effective protocols for treatment via acupuncture, herbs and dietary therapy.

As we can see, TCM has an extensive and systematic way to diagnose and treat a wide variety of mental and emotional illness. These are protocols that have been used successfully to treat these patterns for in some cases, several thousands of years. Please join us for our final installment next time, where we will discuss the Spleen/ Stomach system in relation to the human psyche.

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Chinese Medicine and Mental Illness Part III

Chinese Medicine Eugene Oregon

Chinese Medicine and Mental Illness III

As touched upon in the last article, the mental and psychological aspects of a person are completely integrated with the physical body from the standpoint of Chinese Medicine. Each of the internal organs in fact is associated with a particular aspect of the human psyche. The lungs and the energy of the lungs for instance, are associated with grief and sadness. On the positive side the ability of the lungs to take in new air and to oxygenate the blood, brain and body represent the ability to cut through grief and sadness and move into the ever present now where all real healing takes place.

People that are experiencing grief and sadness often have a tight feeling in their chest and trouble breathing deeply. This correlates nicely with the excellent results that doctors in the UK are getting with their patients by writing them prescriptions for exercise instead of immediately reaching for meds. A 2000 study at Duke University showed that long term, patients treated solely with exercise had a higher than 70% recovery rate from depression versus less than 50% for those treated with Zoloft or Zoloft plus exercise (Anatomy of an Epidemic – Robert Whitaker. Random House, New York 2010 pp (345-346). Imagine now if we were to add acupuncture points and herbal therapy designed to directly heal the energy of the lungs in addition to a prescription for exercise.

According to Chinese Medicine 5 Element Theory, the energy of the lungs helps to nourish the kidneys and the energy of the kidneys. The emotion related to the kidneys is fear on the negative side. Note that people that have paranoia as a part of their mental illness are often subject to fearful thoughts and emotions. According to Wikipedia: ‘Paranoia is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself. (e.g. “Everyone is out to get me.“).’ Note also that the side effects of many psychiatric medications, e.g. sexual dysfunction, dizziness, fatigue, hearing loss and vision impairment are an indication of damaged kidney energy according to Chinese Medical theory.

On the positive side the kidneys represent the basis and foundation of all of our genetic potential. The positive attributes associated with strong kidney energy are will power, determination and persistence. Healthy kidney energy allows an individual to move forward fearlessly through life and to complete their objectives in this lifetime.

As you can begin to see, through the assessment of the energy of the internal organs via Chinese Medical diagnosis, it is possible to develop a holistic treatment plan geared toward restoring balance to an individual’s mind, body and psyche. Depending on the results of Chinese Medical diagnosis, acupuncture prescriptions and herbal prescriptions designed to heal for instance, the lung energy or the kidney energy can be formulated and applied. It is this focus on balancing the entire mental/emotional/ and physical being that sets Chinese Medicine apart from therapies that would seek to control only a certain aspect of the brain chemistry. Join us soon for part four of our series where we will discuss the energy of the liver and heart as they apply to mental illness and the human psyche from the perspective of Chinese Medicine.

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Chinese Medicine and Mental Illness Part II

 Chinese Medicine and Mental Illness Part II

acupuncture, eugene or, mental illness

Chinese Medicine and Mental Illness II

If psychiatric medications are failing to affect the root causes of mental illness as we have shown in the previous article, how can Chinese Medicine possibly be of help? To start with, there is a fundamental difference between the way that mental illness is viewed from the Western and Eastern perspective. From the Western perspective, mental illness is still primarily thought of as a chemical imbalance in the brain. This is the hypothesis that has been driving the perpetuation of psychiatric medications so pervasively in the west. It would be great if it were actually the case – that a simple chemical imbalance in the brain could be mediated by a medication without altering the overall balance of brain chemistry and the rest of the body negatively – but that appears to be rather naïve and over simplistic at this point.

Again to borrow from Robert Whitaker, “All of this physiology-the 100 billion neurons, the 150 trillion synapses, the various neurotransmitter pathways-tell of a brain that is almost infinitely complex. Yet the chemical imbalance theory of mental disorders boiled this complexity down to a simple disease mechanism, one easy to grasp.” (Anatomy of an Epidemic, Crown Publishing, New York 2010).

It was this simple disease mechanism theory that led to the commercial launch and overwhelming success of Prozac in the late 1980’s. Prozac, an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), was marketed as an effective drug for treating depression, because as they advertised, low levels of seratonin were clinically shown to be responsible for depression. The truth is that most of the research done on seratonin levels and depression failed to show any conclusive evidence whatsoever of a direct correlation between seratonin and depression. Regardless of this lack of evidence and thanks to ingenious marketing campaigns, doctors were soon writing upwards of 600,000 prescriptions for Prozac per month. Also according to Robert Whitaker, Med Watch filings between 1988 and 1997 showed 39,000 complaints about Prozac possibly being associated with suicide, psychosis, mania, hallucinations, hostility, convulsions etc.

In contrast to the still widely believed chemical imbalance theory of mental illness in western medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine has always viewed the physical, mental and emotional aspects of a person as one unified whole. To this day, this difference in philosophy could in fact be considered the main difference between western and eastern philosophy in general. Though it is changing slowly, many western sciences, including western medicine and psychiatry still adhere to models of thought based on Newtonian physiscs. In Newtonian physics the “principle of locality” states that things can only be influenced by variables in their immediate surroundings. It is this kind of simplistic logic that allows for models of disease etiology that are simplified to one dimensional cause and effect scenarios such as the chemical imbalance theory of mental illness. The Chinese Medicine model of mental and emotional health, as we will see in the next article, takes into consideration the health of all of a person’s internal organs, blood circulation, living conditions, level of fitness, diet and other environmental factors.

Traditional Chinese Medical thought, like eastern thought in general, more closely resembles the newer models of quantum physics. All aspects of a person, of a situation, of reality as a whole are known to be interrelated and integrated; with variables too immeasurable to boil down to simple cause and effect models. Without straying too far from our topic and at the risk of sounding “new agey”, this is also one of the draw backs of applying the scientific method to acupuncture experiments. Acupuncture experiments very often have faulty designs and are carried out by scientists just triggering points rather than dedicated doctors of acupuncture. Such scientific experiments fail to measure such variables as dedication, intention, awareness and personal and energetic development in those applying the acupuncture, not to mention the need for varied point prescriptions even amongst study participants with the “same” diagnosis.

Even moreso than the human brain, the universe IS a phenomenon of infinite complexity. As such it is also not to be accurately subjected to simple theories of cause and effect with impunity. Stay tuned for our next article, where we will begin delving more deeply into the TCM models and treatments for mental illness.

Terry  M. Chen, Licensed Acupuncturist

Open Sky Acupuncture, Acupuncture Eugene Oregon 

(541) 343-4343

Open Sky Acupuncture

eugeneacupunctureclinic.com

 

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Chinese Medicine and Mental Illness Part I

eugene acupuncture for mental illness
Chinese Medicine and Mental Illness

In a very well written book, author Robert Whitaker notes that since the advent of second generation psychiatric drugs like prozac in 1987, the number of Americans with mental illness has not only not declined; as one would think they should with drugs that are actually improving or helping to reverse mental illness; but rather the number has continued to increase dramatically (Anatomy of an Epidemic, Crown Publishing, New York 2010). Mr. Whitaker further illustrates that between the years 1987 and 2007 the number of Americans that were mentally ill enough to be receiving Social disability checks from the government had in fact nearly doubled from a little over 2 million to 4 million.

Even though statistics are showing conclusively that medications alone are not helping to reduce incidence of mental illness, prescriptions for such medications are on the rise, and more and more, also being prescribed for an ever widening variety of conditions. According to a Washington Post Article from March 12, 2012, physicians are now beginning to prescribe atypical antipsychotic medications like, Zyprexa, Seroquel and Abilify for conditions which they have not been approved for including insomnia, anxiety, attention-deficit disorder, dementia and behavioral problems in toddlers (http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-03-12/national/35448725_1_atypical-antipsychotics-psychotropic-drugs-abilify.

The same article goes on to note that that anti-psychotic prescriptions for conditions that were considered “off label” doubled between 1995 and 2008, from 4.4 million to 9 million. These statistics are clear indications that our current medication based approach to mental illness needs some revision. Medications alone are not an all encompassing answer to mental illness and writing prescriptions for such medications without due diligence in attempting to help a patient with more natural, less invasive means could not be considered best practice.  Why wouldn’t a therapist or physician first attempt to help people with more natural means like behavioral therapy, dietary therapy, exercise or how about one of the world’s oldest and most tried therapies for all types of physical and mental imbalance: Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Writing prescriptions for “problems of living” is fast, it’s easy and there is plenty of financial incentive to utilize them, but is that really the best direction for the treatment of mental illness and the future of healthcare in America? This is the first in a 5 part series in which we will continue to explore the topic of America’s rise in incidence of mental illness and the role that Chinese Medicine could play in helping find more natural solutions for mental illness.

Terry  M. Chen, Licensed Acupuncturist

Open Sky Acupuncture, Acupuncture Eugene Oregon 

(541) 343-4343

Open Sky Acupuncture

eugeneacupunctureclinic.com

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Tonifying the Kidney Yin

Kidney yin, acupuncture, Eugene, OR, oregonI’ve recently had an influx of clients who are all dealing with Kidney deficiency from the Traditional Chinese Point of View so I thought I would update and re-post this article as a point of interest.

The basis of all Chinese Medicine and acupuncture theory and diagnosis begins with the theory of yin and yang. Yin and yang are the two primary polar opposites that compose the entirety of the universe (even in Eugene, Oregon, except for where sensible fashion is concerned…bu dum bum tsk!) But seriously, in terms of binary, yin and yang are the 0 and the 1, the combinations of which constitute all of creation. In this article we will be focusing on yin and yang and how it pertains to the human body, especially the kidneys, and particularly as manifested in patterns of anxiety.

The kidneys in Chinese Medicine theory are considered to be the root of the yin and yang of the entire body. As it pertains to human physiology, yang can be summarized as all the active metabolic processes, while yin are the body’s substances; from the blood, bodily fluids and hormones, to the the nitty gritty…the brain, muscles, flesh and bones. The theoretical premise of the kidneys as the basis of the yin of the entire body makes perfect sense even according to the western understanding of human physiology. In Chinese Medicine theory, the kidneys are intimately related to the bones, marrow and brain. The blood, one of the most significant yin substances in the body is created primarily in the bone marrow, and the hormones, just as significant and further reaching in scope as a yin substance, are regulated primarily by the endocrine system, which is composed primariliy of the pineal and pituitary glands and the hypothalamus. In patterns of kidney yin deficiency what we tend to be speaking about, at least in part, are hormonal imbalances.

Some of the most common signs of kidney yin deficiency include:

– ringing in the ears (tinnitus), headaches, dizziness and spontaneous sweating.

– hair loss, premature greying.

– urinary, sexual, reproductive imbalances e.g. impotence, premature ejaculation

– pain in the low back/ knees.

– insomnia, palipitations and general mental restlessness.

– And our primary focus in this article: anxiety.

According to Chinese Medicine theory, anxiety can occur when kidney yin is deficient and unable to nurture the heart yin. The heart and mind are synonymous in Chinese Medicine theory and when heart yin is deficient, the mind cannot be at rest as its environment is devoid of the cooling, balancing yin element. I will be posting a list of some foods and chinese herbs that are helpful for nourishing heart and kidney yin on the nutrition/ lifestyle page shortly. Again, when we talk about anxiety that is induced by heart and kidney yin deficiency, what we are talking about in western terms is primarily an imbalance in hormones, neurotransmitters and amino acids. While the exact mechanisms of effect of these variables in inducing anxiety are beyond the scope of this article, I will address them in future articles. For now we will limit the discussion to foods, chinese herbs and lifestyle factors that affect heart and kidney yin. Let’s continue that discussion on the nutrition and lifestyle page.

- Terry Chen, L.Ac.

Acupuncture Eugene, OR.

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California Includes Acupuncture on Necessary Benefits List

legislation, acupuncture, Eugene OR

Because it works!

Acupuncture has made the grade and been identified as an “essential” benefit to provide to California’s health care consumers. If the legislation that is sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk passes, in 2014 insurance companies will be required to provide a certain set of “essential” benefits, with acupuncture currently on that list.

It is an amazing step in the growth of acupuncture in the United States that it is being recognized and gaining well deserved legitimacy at this time. It is an exciting time to be an acupuncturist. My guess is that acupuncture will make the grade in California, and that other states will follow suit, some quickly, some begrudgingly slowly. What you will likely see when most people have access to acupuncture, is that the those who use it will have fewer health concerns and be in generally better health, all other things considered. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine were originally designed as preventative measures that can help put a person in physical equilibrium and keep them there before anything serious goes wrong. They are therapies with longevity and quality of life designed into the model: a perfect blend with the “Baby Boomers” now turning the corner on 70. Here is a link to a Washington Post article about the insurance plan.

Terry Chen, Licensed Acupuncturist

Open Sky Acupuncture – (541) 343-4343

 

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Detailed Study Validates Acupuncture’s Effectiveness for Pain

NIH Validates Acupuncture for Pain Management

The National Institute of Health released the results of a detailed five year study recently that validates the effectiveness of acupuncture for many types of pain. The team of researchers pooled the accumulated data from 29 different randomized acupuncture studies, involving nearly 18,000 patients and painstakingly analyzed the results before reaching the conclusion that acupuncture is definitely an evidence based, scientifically valid and effective best practice for treating pain.

For years the detractors of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have cited the lack of scientific evidence for acupuncture’s effectiveness, all the while ignoring the vast body of double blind, placebo controlled studies that have been conducted throughout Asian countries and all around the globe for decades. Well to them I say here is a very nice and substantial validation from the NIH that you can now stick in your pipe and smoke:) The fact is that studies on acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have unfortunately not had the type of funding for research that other types of medical procedures and pharmaceuticals routinely garner, due to the lack of profit potential.

What kinds of organizations or companies would want to fund research on a form of medicine that is founded on simplicity, based on the body’s own innate healing potential, is extremely cost effective and cannot readily be exploited for mass profit? The answer is that there are obviously not a lot of private companies that are interested in such an endeavor. In fact, it could be argued that there are actually powerful organizations and companies that would gain from keeping such an effective, cost effective and powerful medicine out of the hands of the people by demonizing it and belittling it. Well it appears that the days of sweeping acupuncture’s effectiveness under the rug are numbered. In an economy and environment where an effective and cost effective alternative to over reliance on pharmaceuticals and highly invasive, over priced procedures is sorely needed, I believe that acupuncture’s star is, after 4,000 years, finally on the rise in America and Europe. It is just a question of time and consumer demand that will eventually push acupuncture into the mainstream.

 

Terry  M. Chen, Licensed Acupuncturist

Open Sky Acupuncture, Eugene Oregon 

(541) 343-4343

Open Sky Acupuncture

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Acupuncture for Repetetive Motion Disorders: Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow

Overuse injuries that cause arm pain due to soft tissue damage are rapidly on the increase in today’s computer driven work culture. Many if not most professions require some computer usage on a daily basis these days. Add to daily computer usage your other everyday activities and perhaps a sport such as tennis, golf or bowling and the accumulated stress can be too much for a person’s arm muscles to bear over time. Repetitive Motion Disorders can affect muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves causing tight muscles, inflammation, tendinitis, tendinosis and other types of degenerative changes in soft tissue. Chronic tightness in the muscles can contribute to many different types of arm pain including medial and lateral epicondylitis.

 

“Golfer’s elbow” and “Tennis elbow” are the colloquial names for medial and lateral epicondylitis respectively, and both are examples of elbow and forearm pain that are readily treated by acupuncture. Tennis elbow usually exhibits with pain on the outside of the elbow that may radiate into the forearm and wrist. The pain can be aggravated by gripping and lifting motions such as turning a doorknob, pouring a drink or even shaking hands. Golfer’s elbow may present with similar symptoms, but the pain is on the medial or inside of the arm. The most commonly accepted cause of epicondylitis, whether lateral or medial, is overuse. Tiny microscopic tears on the tendons create a chronic inflammation that leads to pain and sensitivity in the area. In older patients, the onset of epicondylitis may be partially attributed to tendinosis or degeneration of the tendons due to lack of circulation and aging. Regardless of the etiology of epicondylitis, acupuncture is one of the foremost therapeutic treatments for tennis and golfer’s elbow. Acupuncture has the ability to relax overused and tight muscles and to promote circulation in order to speed healing in inflamed and damaged soft tissues making it an ideal treatment for such conditions.

 

Terry  M. Chen, Licensed Acupuncturist

Open Sky Acupuncture, Eugene Oregon 

(541) 343-4343

Open Sky Acupuncture

 

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