Thursday, June 28, 2007

Stop Drinking Cold Water

I have written about this a number of times in the past and speak to all my patients about it. It is such a common occurrence for Americans to drink cold beverages. Go to any restaurant and the first thing put on your table is a glass of ice water.

The Chinese and Tibetans have discussed the effects of cold liquids on one's health for thousands of years. It's very basic: the nature of cold is to contract and constrict. Drinking cold liquids causes constriction of the blood vessels and nerves in the Stomach and digestive tract creating spasm, tightness and restricted circulation. Digestion requires heat; in other words, yang or metabolic energy to digest. Cold extinguishes this heat, preventing proper digestion and assimilation of food, toxic gases and byproducts of this failed process. It also forces the body to expend additional yang/heat or metabolic energy further draining the organs from which this energy originates: Kidney yang/Adrenals. This leads to slowing of metabolism, weight gain, adrenal insufficiency, thyroid problems, etc.

A recent article discusses the danger of cold liquids during meals and an increased risk of heart attacks and cancer. You can check it out here and click on the article links at the bottom.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Scientific Method Hardly Scientific

It's one of the biggest contradictions. The scientific method by definition isolates variables and observer in pursuit of objectifiable empirical data. All scientific studies rely on this standard and any claim must live up to it. The problem is that this classical notion of rudimentary physics, in fact, has been effectively undermined and replaced by quantum mechanics which recognizes the need to eliminate the separability of subject and object. With this new understanding of nature, it is recognized in the scientific community that the objectifiability of empirical data is simply an illusion. Yet, for some reason, the lack of objectifiable data in alternative medicines like Chinese medicine (acupuncture and herbs) is portrayed as unreliable, mystical, quackery, etc. And western pharmaceuticals with their double-blinded studies are put on a pedestal as real medicine. Chinese medicine sees through the smoke and mirrors and the illusions. Its focus is on the interrelationships between phenomena; the analysis of the particular stressor(s) on the unique landscape of the individual. The true test of any medicine is on its ability to diagnose deviations from nature and help initiate movement back to its original nature. In this sense, the scientific method is a significant barrier to health.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Effect of Lifestyle

I probably sound like a broken record, but I can't stress enough the importance of a healthy lifestyle in achieving and maintaining health. Everyone wants to be healthy, but how many of us really want to live healthy? Following natures rhythms, rising with the sun, retiring with the moon. Eating foods that nourish us when we are hungry. Avoiding refined, processed, denatured, store-bought preserved foods. That's right, no ice cream, sorry. And how well does our career fit in with nature. The day to day stresses mostly over office politics and deadlines for the sake of what? How hard would it be to change to a line of work with a social benefit? To walk or ride a bike instead of jumping in the car. You can extrapolate further.

If one understands that the causes of disease/illness are mental/emotional excesses of grief, anger, fear, anxiety, stress, overthinking, greed; environment, pollution, chemicals, habits, diets, posture/structure, one sees the importance of moving back into harmony with nature. So, what price are you willing to pay to live or not live a healthy lifestyle. Will you gamble your health to live for convenience and a scoop of ice cream or will you forego transient pleasures to live in accord with nature and experience good health, vitality and longevity? These are questions I ask myself daily. In theory it is a no-brainer. In practice, a whole different story.

America Runs on Dunkin

Each time this commercial comes on t.v. I comment to my wife how frustrating it is to see these foods/drinks being promoted. Yesterday she said, "but it's true, America does run on Dunkin." Seems so basic, but it is remarkable how an entire population can be persuaded to consume food and drink that is so detrimental to one's health. And one cannot blame those eating and drinking these products as there is no voice out there that highlights these issues on any large scale. An incredible shame. We live in a society where the norm is to drink multiple cups of coffee daily (often iced coffee, even worse!), live on fast food, microwaved, denatured, preserved garbage. But the companies that spend billions on advertising include, Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc. They control the information being disseminated. The average person who doesn't think to question the relationship to what he/she is eating, how it is prepared, etc. to his/her health really doesn't stand a chance. It's a full-time job keeping up. But the cost is too large not to. A real predicament. The huge price for living in a society that values business more than health. Take a look at the following link from Dr. Stickley's blog on what people across the world eat in a week. Notice the difference between the industrialized and non-industrialized menus. Check it out here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Boy Turns 5

Today Benjamin turns 5 years old! The best 5 years I could have imagined. It's amazing how fast it is flying by.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Ben Shen

These two words have much import in my medicine (and in my personal life: it is the names of my first two children). Ben is the root or the source. Shen is the spirit (consciousness). They reflect an important principle in acupuncture therapy as recounted in Chapter 8 of the Nei Jing Ling Shu (one of the earliest texts on acupuncture dating back thousands of years ago) which is (and I'm paraphrasing) "above all, the most important thing is, with every needle not to miss the rooting of the spirits."

These words weigh on me daily. Ninety plus percent of all the patients that come through my doors have their roots in emotional and spiritual causes. The effects of the emotions on our physiology is complex and beyond the scope of this blog post, but excesses of the emotions have profound impact on our health. Without rooting the spirit, what kind of therapy are we actually giving? While I do see benefit in relieving the symptomatic discomforts of my patients, without getting to the root, we can affect no real lasting or meaningful change. If the spirits do not reside peacefully, one cannot be truly healed.

And while I am very mindful that to truly heal oneself is a life-long pursuit which entails significant exploration of our minds, the above titled post is a reminder of where our intentions should be while we treat each individual. Often, patients who seek care are unaware of the lack of rooting of their spirits and it is this disconnect which often perpetuates their imbalance. Whether it be the elderly patient suffering from depression regarding what he can no longer do, or the mid-life crisis as one begins to contemplate one's mortality, or the young adult who was the victim of an early life trauma, everyone needs the stability of a rooted spirit to maintain and ensure vitality and health.

Of course, as you can imagine, this puts a tremendous responsibility on the practitioner of eastern medicine. And I can attest, I have yet to live up to this ideal. I try daily, and fail often. But when the rooting of the spirits can be facilitated, it is as if a miracle has taken place. This keeps me on the path.