Author Archives: tmc

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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Top 5 and a half Reasons to try Acupuncture

Chinese Medicine - Eugene OregonAcupuncture is one of the oldest and most respected forms of medical treatment known to humanity. Over thousands of years of development, its relevance has continued to increase for the simple reason that it works. Here is some brief and basic information on acupuncture and how it can help you. 5 1/2 good reasons you should try acupuncture are:

#1. Acupuncture relieves pain – When people think about acupuncture, mostly they think about pain relief. This is what acupuncture is most well known for in the U.S. and for good reason. For painful injuries, especially where soft tissue damage is a primary concern, acupuncture excels as a primary therapy. During acupuncture treatment, ultra thin, disposable, stainless steel needles are utilized to actively stimulate the intrinsic healing mechanisms of the body and to heal painful tissues. Neuro-endocrine and immune functions are stimulated, reducing the activity of and desensitizing activated nerves, while simultaneously speeding repair of the damaged tissue. Acupuncture is a great choice for back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, wrist pain, headaches, menstrual cramps and almost any type of physical pain.

#2 Acupuncture doesn’t hurt! – Sometimes when I tell people what I do they cringe and tell me they “hate needles”, or they “just don’t do needles”. It’s understandable. When most people think of needles, they think about those huge hypodermic needles that they got poked with when they were little kids. Now that was painful and the lollipop at the end was small consolation. Acupuncture generally uses teeny, tiny, small gauge needles, no thicker than a hair. In the hands of a skilled practitioner, needle insertion is painless.

#3 It’s been around for thousands of years -  Estimates vary as to exactly how old acupuncture really is, but most sources agree that it’s been around for at least 4,000 to 5,000 years. Over the course of four to five thousand years practitioners have had alot of time to find out what works and fine tune this particular treatment modality. In our modern day and age, the practice of acupuncture continues to evolve and be refined as scientists begin to understand the exact physiological mechanisms by which acupuncture’s effectiveness are explained.

#4 Acupuncture can balance moods and emotions – Acupuncture has long been used as a therapy for helping people balance mental and emotional states. While the process is explained in Traditional Chinese Medical theory as a balancing and redistribution of a person’s energy, we now know, thanks to modern technology and research involving MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and PET (positron emission tomography) scans of patients undergoing acupuncture, that acupuncture can actually stimulate activity in certain parts of the brain and affect the release of endorphins and other neurochemicals.

#5 Acupuncture is Safe – When practiced by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is very safe. The most common side effect of an acupuncture treatment is a small hematoma, in other words, a bruise; and even this happens only rarely.

#5.5 Everybody in Eugene, OR gets acupuncture: Just kidding! But they must. I think there are over 60 acupuncturists around here.

- Terry Chen, L.Ac.

Acupuncture Eugene, OR.

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Acupuncture for Internal Medicine

Acupuncture for Internal Medicine

I recently had a question put to me as to whether acupuncture could be useful for internal medicine, for instance an intestinal disorder. The answer is yes. One of acupuncture’s main benefits is the regulatory effect that is has on the human nervous system. When the nervous system is balanced and in a state of homeostasis, every other system in the body will necessarily be affected for the better, including the circulatory systems and organ systems. In addition, utilizing pertinent acupoints on the corresponding acupuncture channels can affect internal organ systems directly. The needling of Stomach 36 for instance, along with electro stimulation has been shown to increase peristalsis according to a study published on Pub Med and Medline http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8257835.

So not only can acupuncture help to regulate and bring to homeostasis the main control system of the entire body: the nervous system, it also has been shown to enhance the immune system by increasing natural killer cells and helper T lymphocytes http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/The_Mechanism_of_Acupuncture_and_Clinical_Applications.pdf, and to positively affect the functions of the internal organs themselves. Not to mention, it just plain makes you feel better:)

Here’s a link to one woman’s experience with acupuncture in treating diverticulitis. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5792722/how_can_acupuncture_help_with_diverticulitis.html?cat=5

So in short, acupuncture is not only a fantastic answer for many types of pain, injuries and other orthopedic issues, it is also a great way to treat many types of internal medicine concerns. Here is a partial list of the conditions known to be treatable by acupuncture:

Addictions, Anxiety, Arthritis, Asthma, Allergies
Bronchitis
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue, Colitis, Common Cold, Constipation
Dental Pain, Depression, Diarrhea, Digestive Problems, Dizziness, Dysentery
Emotional Problems, Eye Problems
Facial Paralysis, Fatigue, Fibromyalgia
Gingivitis
Headaches, Hiccups
Infertility, Incontinence, Indigestion, IBS
Low Back Pain
Menopause, Menstrual irregularities, Migraines, Morning Sickness
Nausea
Osteoarthritis
Pain, PMS
Reproductive problems, Rhinitis
Sciatica, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Shoulder Pain, Sinusitis, Sleep Disorders, Smoking Addictions, Sore Throat, Stress
Tennis Elbow, Tonsillitis, Tooth Pain, Trigeminal Neuralgia
UTI’s

- Terry Chen, L.Ac.

Acupuncture Eugene, OR.

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5 Tips to Beat Holiday Stress

 

              

  1. Don’t plan too many activities in too short a time.             Vacations, even holiday vacations, are meant to be a source of renewal and regeneration. Planning too many activities in small amounts of time is a sure fire recipe for holiday stress and agitation. Take a little time out for yourself. Have a walk. Do some deep breathing.
  2. Keep your diet as normal as possible. One of the main focal points of holiday gatherings is food. Often times when placed in different situations for the holidays we tend to simply cave toward eating recklessly and willy-nilly, a cupcake in one hand and leg of lamb in the other. Digestive upset and unstable blood sugar levels can only contribute to stress. Keep mindful of your dietary comfort zone.
  3. Don’t believe the hype. Remember that the holidays aren’t about buying, selling, having and owning things. We are constantly bombarded from every conceivable direction with ads that tell us image is everything and we can’t possibly be happy unless we own certain indispensable items like high priced sports cars, watches and jewelry. Remember, a kiss begins with your lips not with Kay, so put your wallet down and pucker up. Forget about Black Friday and Cyber Monday and play a nice game of Pinochle with your family instead.
  4.  Cut your relatives some slack. Family gatherings are often hotbeds for unleashing repressed antagonism towards family and friends we haven’t seen in a long while. No body is perfect, probably, especially your family members. Try and give everyone even a little more leeway for acting a bit goofy around the holidays. Keep your awareness and attention focused firmly on ideals like acceptance and appreciation for everything that is right in your life.
  5. Cut yourself some slack too. As we wind down the year it is the perfect time to reflect on what we’ve learned over the past months, to forgive ourselves for any mistakes we’ve made and any perceived imperfections we still maintain. Love yourself as much as possible and you can’t help but be a joy and source of inspiration for other people. Remember that life is about journey and change. There are no permanent destinations in life so enjoy yourself wherever you are.

 

Terry  M. Chen, Licensed Acupuncturist

Open Sky Acupuncture, Eugene OR

(541) 343-4343

Open Sky Acupuncture

eugeneacupunctureclinic.com

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