Foods to Eat to Help Depression

Many have heard the question posed what came first, the chicken or the egg? But how does that concept apply to depression? It’s well-known that when we’re depressed, our motivation and interest in maintaining a healthy and balanced diet subsides in the same way our energy does. Harvard Medical Students positioned that same question in relation to depression; what came first, depression or a poor diet? continue reading »

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Traveling the Energetic Highway: What Are Meridians?

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a system that seems quite foreign to many in the Western world. However, this medical system has been around for over 3,500 years, in comparison to the Western medical system, which has been around since the 19th century. One of the concepts of TCM is that of the meridian or energetic pathways. This article will explore this concept a little more deeply. continue reading »

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Opioid Addiction: What Is It and Why Is It Prevalent Today

Opioids. A word all too common to today’s society. Since the late 1990s, the number of opioid-related deaths has increased dramatically, having taken the lives of nearly 64,000 Americans each year.

The opioid epidemic is considered to be the deadliest crisis in United States history and overdoses have also become the leading cause-of-death in people under the age of 50 in the United States. continue reading »

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WE ARE OPEN!

We have reopened, COVID-consciously.

We are here for you.

More details will follow.

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Eastern vs. Western: How the Medical Practices Differ

Almost everybody knows there are two very unique ways of treating disease and maintaining health. But not everybody knows how these two methodologies differ from one another. And depending on where you live in the world, there may be one that is more prominent than the other. Both systems have their pros and cons. So let’s differentiate between the two. This is the battle between Eastern and Western medicine.  Let’s get ready to rumble! continue reading »

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The Flu & You – How Can TCM Help?

Chinese medicinal clinical studies have suggested that using acupuncture as a preventative approach to colds and flu can reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infection and shorten the duration of the illness. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine work by rebalancing the body’s systems, regulating the body’s healing energies, and enhancing the immune system.

Even though germs, bacteria, and viruses are everywhere—in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink—according to Chinese medical theory, they do not cause disease. Illness occurs when our Wei Qi and our meridian organ systems are weak and out of balance. When this occurs it creates a hospitable for germs, bacteria, and viruses to thrive, leading to a cold, the flu, or worse. continue reading »

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Meridian Point: Large Intestine 4

Large Intestine 4 is one of the most important and influential acupoints in the entire body. The Chinese name for Large Intestine 4 is “He Gu” meaning union valley or converging valley. The point is located on the hand in the web between the thumb and index finger, also described as the depression where the index finger and thumb bones part. This area of the hand is often described as “valley like” hence the name converging valley. continue reading »

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Understanding How Qi Gong Promotes Health

By Skye Sturgeon, DAOM, L.Ac.

Mayway Herbs

Students who have taken classes from me will recognize what I am about to share with you. Hopefully, this information will encourage you to take up the practice of Qi Gong for yourself and incorporate it into the therapy you provide for your patients. You do not need any special equipment, shoes, Mandarin clothing, or a special place to practice. It can be engaged anywhere and by anyone, including those who are bed-ridden or in a wheelchair.

Qi Gong is one of the treasures of Chinese medicine. In Chinese, Qi Gong (qìgōng 氣功) consists of two characters, the first being 氣 qì, which is a compound character combining the character for “air” 气 qì and the second is the radical for “rice” 米 mǐ. (See Qi Equations below.) Gong represents the Chinese character gōng 功, which is translated variously as “merit”, “skill”, “mastery”, “cultivation”, or simply “exercises”. Thus, Qi Gong can be understood as “breathing exercises for the cultivation of Qi”.

All forms of Qi Gong have certain features in common.

Focused diaphragmatic breathing

Qi GongThe diaphragm is the primary muscle of breathing. Most people scarcely breathe with their diaphragm and lift their rib cage by mainly using the intercostal muscles to inhale instead. This causes the inhale to be an action and the exhale, a relaxation, driven by the elastic recoil of the lungs. The result is that breathing primarily occurs in the upper part of the lungs and it is a “shallow” breath.

In Qi Gong breathing, the action is focused on the exhale by intentionally contracting the diaphragm and abdominal wall muscles, squeezing out the carbon dioxide until the lungs are empty. The inhale fills the lungs accommodated by a relaxation of the diaphragm and abdominal wall muscles. This is a deep breath and is illustrative of what is meant by the Chinese medicine adage, “The Kidneys must grasp the Lung Qi.” The diaphragm literally sits on top of the adrenal glands of the kidney and when breathing using the diaphragm in this manner, one fills the lungs all the way down to the kidneys.

Awareness and Visualization

During the practice of Qi Gong ideally one maintains a calm, meditative state, focused on the breath and one’s stance (or form) and gentle movement. Visualization of the flow or presence of Qi and the aesthetics of the form are also maintained.

Stance and Intentional Movement (or non-movement)

Although sitting Qi Gong and standing Qi Gong (Tree Hugging!) do not involve movement, there are literally hundreds of forms of Qi Gong that involve various movements. These movements promote the flow of Qi and activate the lymphatic system. Certain forms were passed down in families as part of the lineage of Qi Gong. It has been said that Tai Ji Quan is a formal collection of Qi Gong exercises intended to move Qi in all of the Meridians and as an aid to the memorization of the Qi Gong movements.

Although its roots originated thousands of years ago, certainly its revival has occurred since the advent of Traditional Chinese Medicine beginning in the 1950s. There are over 75 ancient forms and dozens of contemporary ones that can be categorized as martial, medical, meditative, and health-promoting Qi Gong. Today, in the United States there are hundreds of teachers of various forms of Qi Gong. If you are looking for formal training, I can suggest the following website: https://www.qigonginstitute.org/directory. Recently, this 20-minute, YouTube video from Peter Deadman was brought to my attention. Excellent teaching for difficult times.

But what is Qi really, and why should I cultivate it?

Qi is a polysemous word that defies easy translation into English, although some authors choose “Energy” but in Chinese medicine, it is much more than that. Let’s dive into some of the various aspects of Qi.

Energy

This is the most common understanding of Qi and it covers a lot of ground. Some qualify Qi by referring to it as “vital energy” or “life force”, meaning the energy that is essential for and promotes life. A more expansive definition would include energy in all its forms, including every wavelength of light, heat, bio-electric and electro-magnetic energy, and consciousness. In Chinese medicine, the concept of Qi is closely related to health and well-being since it not only flows throughout the meridian system, but also permeates every organ and tissue in the body. Qi extends to fields that surround every living thing. Modern science promotes the ideas of electrons providing energy to every cell of the body via ATP, FADH2, and NADH (remember the Krebs cycle?). Yes, indeed, this is Qi.

Intelligence

Qi is the inherent intelligence of the living organism. From the beginning of the embryonic state to the full development of an adult, every part of the body “knows” how to perform in a manner that is appropriate for its part in the whole. For instance, although I am reasonably intelligent, “I” do not know how my circulatory system performs its role in my being alive, but my heart and vessels do know this, perfectly. In fact, if I were in control of my Heart Qi, I probably would eventually forget to make my heart beat and move the blood to bring nutrition and oxygen to every cell. Likewise, every part of my body does its job through this innate intelligence or Qi.

Information and Regulation

The human body gathers information via the sense organs, the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, neurotransmitters, hormones, specialized cells, and more. This information is another form of Qi and this collection of data and impulses is analyzed and determines responses of the organism to its internal and external environment. This regulation of internal processes is accomplished through various processes to maintain homeostasis including positive and negative feed-back loops. This aspect of Qi creates harmony, balance, health, and well-being.

Function and Transformation

Every form of Qi in the body engenders specific functions. In fact, the metaphorical physiology of Chinese medicine is organized by assigning certain functions to the Zang-fu. For example, it is the Qi Hua (transformation of Qi) function of the Kidneys, working with the Urinary Bladder that removes waste from the blood to create urine.

Qi Equations

Now, I want to examine some of the concepts that we learned in our study of Traditional Chinese Medicine to see if we can gain further insight into these ideas.

Qi Equations
The first equation represents the basic understanding of how Qi is created according to Chinese medicine. Short and to the point. Other than Yuan (original) Qi, this explains the source of Qi in a living system. Let me expand it just a bit.

Derived from biochemistry, the second equation is a simplified statement of the extraction of energy from glucose (or glycogen), called glycolysis. In the human body, glucose is the primary fuel in cellular metabolism and the body has several pathways to convert the major macronutrients into glucose. Glucose is oxidized, metabolically, and the result is energy, including heat (= Yang) plus intracellular water (= Yin) and carbon dioxide, which is a waste product, a gas that leaves the system (notice the up arrow ↑).

Next, I have added the Zang organs whose Qi is responsible for each factor in the equation. When I first did this, I noticed that I was looking at the Five Elements at work. I must confess that I assigned carbon dioxide to the Liver and Wood Element by process of elimination. Yet, the correspondences seem obvious. Looking at the Control Cycle, I noticed something remarkably interesting.

Elements Wheel
When I learned the Five Elements in school, it was explained that Metal controlled Wood and you could remember it by thinking of a metal axe chopping down a tree. Great image, but what did it mean therapeutically? Then, it dawned on me that this is how I can accept carbon dioxide as Wood. When breathing, if you focus on the out breath, making it longer than the in breath, this is Metal controlling Wood. Focusing on the removal of more carbon dioxide is removing a waste product. In fact, breathing out IS letting go.

This is the great teaching of the Metal Element. The emotion associated with Metal is grief. All the classic emotions have their appropriate expression. Circumstances arise that engender an emotional response. Pathology occurs when one holds onto and cultivates that emotion. After a period of grieving, one must let go because a new in-breath is happening. This is very appropriate to our current situation. Coping with a pandemic and feeling some grief for what we think we have lost. Life goes on, a new moment, a new emotion is about to occur. Let it go. Just try holding onto your breath. You can, for a while, but you must eventually let it go and breathe again.

The emotion associated with Wood is frustration and anger. You can imagine what you want, but what do you do when you do not get what you want? Of course, you can reach down to your Kidneys and access your Will. Your Will allows you to try to go through, around, over, or under an obstacle. Exercising Will over a long enough period of time, however, depletes Yin or Yang (or both). Fortunately, as can be seen from the Five Element Medicine Wheel, the practice of Qi Gong, by engaging the Metal Element, replenishes the Water Element and helps sustain the Kidneys via the Creation Cycle.

If and when Will fails to achieve your desire or dreams, you may be left frustrated and angry, as can be vividly seen since Water creates Wood. Since Excess accumulating in the Wood Element creates various pathologies including Disturbance of Shen, what can be done? Practice Qi Gong. Count your breaths to ten, focusing on the out-breath, and let go. In fact, shēng qì 生氣 or “creating breath/Qi”, means to be angry in Chinese. By releasing this excess Qi in our breath, we almost literally deflate our anger. What is next? Take in another breath, let go of your thoughts about what should be and accept what is, which is a form of Love and the only true antidote to anger.

In conclusion, I trust these insights will encourage you to practice Qi Gong. The value is in the doing, that is, the breathing. Teach yourself, teach your patients to breathe. Go for harmony, balance, health, and well-being. Qi Gong will help get you there—and the world will be a better place.

Skye Sturgeon, DAOM, L.Ac.
Quality Assurance Manager & Herbal Consultant at Mayway Herbs

 

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Germ Theory: 101

Why do some people always catch a cold, and others don’t?
Viruses, germs, and bacteria are everywhere. They are in the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink, but not all of them are bad or harmful.

Think of the immune system as your body’s security detail. The cells, tissues, and organs that comprise it help repel foreign invaders like harmful bacteria, parasites and other microbes that can cause infections. Disorders of the immune system range from everyday annoyances like mild seasonal allergies to serious illnesses like leukemia. Stress, lack of sleep and other common conditions can contribute to a weakened immune system, which can make you vulnerable to infections. continue reading »

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Herbal and Health Consultations Only

In order to assure your safety, we will temporarily suspend all acupuncture and Energy Light Rejuvenation treatments at Acupuncture & Herbal Answers at the end of today, April 17, 2020.  Of course, we are carefully monitoring the Corona conditions and our local limitations. At this time, I am eyeing a potential date to reopen in one month, which would bring us to Tuesday, May 18th.  An email here and listings online will indicate the actual date whenever it becomes clear.

 

Our shelves are full of Chinese herbs and supplements, and I am happy to offer in-depth telephone or Zoom health consultations during the business week.  These can include custom herbal formulations, supplement and dietary suggestions, meditation and acupressure lessons, as well as connecting you with resources which might be of help.  Blue Cross/Blue Shield covers tele-medicine time with me, so consider this if you are in need.  Phone if you would like my help.  As always, there is no charge for brief telephone consultations.

 

Call with any questions.

 

I am always happy to help.  I will be standing by the phone, and responding to all voice and email messages within 24 hours.  Pick up times can be set, items left out for you, prepaid by phone, or checks can be dropped in our mail slot.  The front door will remain locked.

 

For those of you who have had recent success here with acupuncture, please consider continuing herbal treatment, so that your benefits will not be lost.  I will be phoning some of you in the next couple of weeks to check on your progress and state of mind.

 

Most of us are now living in a heightened state of stress and may be suffering anxiety or insomnia.  Chinese herbs can do a world of good.  Future emails will cover specific ways to calm us, and to boost our immunity.

 

I will miss seeing you, but believe this will be the safest way for me to help you at this time.  This time can be a blessing, and I hope we can all find some benefit amidst our modern chaos.  Thank you for bearing with me.

 

Remember to get outdoors (though our walking areas have been limited) and witness spring pushing through the gloom.  The bright green grass and wagging daffodils can help fill our hearts.  Breathe deeply: open the lungs to fresh, healthy air, free those tight spaces.

 

Stay well.

 

Until next time,

 

Lynn

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