Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Connection between poor sleep and development of hypersentivities to food & airborne allergens!

As someone who has suffered from sensitivity/allergy to numerous foods and chemicals, I found the following of interest: A recent study investigated the relationship between short sleep duration and risk of sensitization to food and allergens. The study included 1,534 adolescent twins between the ages of 12 and 21 years who completed standard sleep questionnaires and skin prick tests to nine common food and aeroallergens. The results revealed that compared with those with the highest sleep duration, those who slept less were more likely to be sensitized to any food allergen or aeroallergen. These results were independent of percent of body fat. Furthermore, there was a significant dose-response association between the number of positive skin prick tests and percentage of shortest sleep duration. These findings show that short sleep duration may be associated with an increased risk of sensitization to food and aeroallergens. (Citation: Zhang S, Liu X, Kin JS, et al. Association between short sleep duration and the risk of sensitization to food and aero allergens in rural Chinese adolescents. Clin Exp Allergy. Jan2011.) Ah! To sleep, perchance to dream! Shagsbeard recognized the importance of sleep. So should we. It's not just for rest or to help us solidify memories, it allows our flight or fight response to take a deep breather. If our defensive energies don't get a chance to rest, they become hyper-sensitive and start interpreting ordinary foods and substances as dangerous. NOT a good situation. Peaceful sleep, meditation, calming exercise (like Qi Gong, Tai Chi, or the less athletic more meditative styles of Yoga), using aromatherapy in the bath or at bedtime (such as rose, jasmine, lavender) can all help lower the reactivity of your nervous system enough to sleep better. And thereby, it seems, to avoid becoming allergic! In classical Chinese medicine, we can also work with the Divergent or Sinew Meridians to deal with hyperactive Wei Qi. But that's a story for another day. Sweet dreams, all!

Monday, August 15, 2011

An excerpt from an article on the Army's increasing use of Acupuncture in the field and in their hospitals

I knew that all the branches of the military had embraced acupuncture, but here's the latest news. The Army is adding it to Special Forces medica training, and planning to increase its use in both their forward field hospitals as well as their hospitals here in the States. I am not surprised, as acupuncture was originally battlefield medicine (the great physician-sages were also the fighting elite (think martial artists) They were Doctor-Warriors! I can't wait to show them what Daoist medicine can do! Someday . . .

If you’re in pain, some Army doctors might stick a needle in your ear.

Auricular acupuncture focuses on points in the ear, and some Army doctors who have practiced this form of pain management are looking to introduce formal training for some medics and increase its use across the Army.

“Acupuncture has been used in the Army for over a decade,” said Maj. (Dr.) David Jamison, chief of the pain clinic at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. “Since I was a resident in 2004, people were using it already, but it’s become much more mainstream. We’re using it a lot more in training more people, and we’re trying to have it be included more in our algorithms for treating pain, certainly here at Walter Reed.”

Jamison and his colleagues are developing a plan that would add auricular acupuncture training to Special Forces medic training.

“This past fall, I attended the Special Operations Medical Association annual conference and talked about several types of acupuncture,” Jamison said. “We’re trying to push out some of these methods to the field environment, and we’re trying to push it out so it can be used farther forward.”

Right now, there’s no formal training or requirement for Army medical personnel to be trained in acupuncture, auricular or otherwise. Instead, those who have the training will use it in addition to regular treatments.

“I’d say it’s not a standard of care,” Jamison said. “I use it in my practice, but it’s mainly as an adjunct to our other therapies. When I was deployed, I was at a combat support hospital, but I brought acupuncture supplies with me and lots of people loved it there.”

Auricular acupuncture would be an ideal way to introduce acupuncture to the battlefield because its basic form is easier to teach and simpler to practice than regular acupuncture, Jamison said.

“We think it can be used more in the field than it is,” he said.

You can teach someone a few basic auricular acupuncture techniques over a weekend, Jamison said. You can use traditional acupuncture needles for 20 to 30 minutes at a time or insert a small needle that’s attached to what looks like a small gold stud into the ear and the patient can leave it in for a couple of days, he said. Typically, an acupuncturist will put four or more needles in each ear.

Auricular acupuncture works, Jamison said. And with increasing acceptance of alternative therapies, he hopes this practice will become more common across the Army.

“I would say most people thought it sounded pretty strange to them maybe five years ago, but you hear a lot more about acupuncture now and there are enough people who have had it and had a good experience with it. Now people request it when they come in.”

Here's the full article if you're interested in reading further: Army On Brink of New Ways to Fight Pain, an article on ArmyTimes.com.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A profound new tool for healing discovered

I’ve been spending my meditation time, morning and evening, learning to switch my brain from focusing on problem solving (what I don’t want) to focusing on what I want to create. Sounds easy, right? It’s not. I am shocked by how pervasive the negative frame of mind is. I get my brain into a positive frame, and within minutes another negative frame pops up inside that, and again I move the frame around until it’s positive. Repeat ad nauseam. It's rather exhausting.

But I am movitated by knowing just how important it is for me to learn this skill. When I have mastered it, I will be able to teach my patients how to do it, and then they will be unstoppable. With this skill in hand, a person becomes able not only to make lifestyle changes (necessary for optimal health) with relative ease, they will be able to achieve any other goal that comes from their heart.

I love it when answers come from unexpected places! Who knew I was going to find one of the keys to life by becoming a health coach? I went into it to help build up my acupuncture private practice, and to give me a tool to help people who are morbidly obese.

I had read Robert Fritz's The Path of Least Resistance about two decades ago. It was fascinating, but I didn't truly get it. It wasn't until I was studying to become a health coach that I read Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen's The Habits of Health (which applies Fritz's concept of structural tension charting to the process of making the lifestyle changes necessary for health) that I finally not only got it, but truly GOT IT: a light went on, bells rang, my very soul vibrated. Here was a piece of the healthcare puzzle that had always been missing, one that addresses one of the most profound challenges in the life of pretty much every human being: how to bring into being the many lifestyle changes necessary to become and remain healthy. That is HUGE.

Here is a method that is entirely teachable that I can now pass on to my clients so that they will have the ability to make the many lifestyle changes that they have always longed to make but had been firmly out of their reach. We have all experienced the deep frustration of not being able to follow through in acting on the goals we want so badly it almost hurts. Do you know that feeling?

They didn't teach us how to do this in school, and I hadn't found the answer anywhere else in the past 40 or so years of my search for the path to health and happiness in my own life. While Daoist medicine is very powerful and effective, there has always been the issue of how to help patients make the lifestyle changes necessary for health and balance. Therein lies the rub. People can't truly heal without making those changes, so how to help them? I finally found that missing piece.

I have a method that provides a clear and even pleasurable (yes, pleasurable!) way to reach one's goals, and I am specifically trained to apply it to making lifestyle changes that lead to health. The newest arrow in my quiver of healing tools is going to make a huge difference not only in my patients' lives, but in my own life as well. I'm not going to pretend that learning it is easy. It's not hard either, it's just that it is so entirely new. Our brains are in the habit of operating a different way, but the effort involved is not hard, it just requires repeating until it becomes second nature, and the process itself is pleasurable. And the results are nothing less than life altering.

I can't wait to do this meditation again. It's a beautiful thing, and I am so grateful to have stumbled upon it. (Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

I read this morning on AlterNet that anti-psychotics are the most prescribed medication in America today, despite there being very few actual psychotics. (Has America Become a Nation of Psychotics?)

The next thing I read in this article was the staggering increase in prescriptions for anti-psychotic drugs in children: One out of every 5 children that sees a psychiatrist comes away with a prescription for an anti-psychotic drug! That is simply unconscionable. There are so few people who are actually psychotic, something truly evil is going on here. Because mental illness is not detectable by any objective means, psychiatrists are particularly susceptible to the enormous pressures placed on physicians to overmedicate, to prescribe medications for people that don't fit the profile of those who might (and that is only a might) be helped by a particular medication.

I then went on to read The Deadly Corruption of Clinical Trials, but I was so upset by reading how children in the juvenile justice system are systematically put on anti-psychotic drugs that I couldn't read any further.

I feel so nauseated by the immensity of this problem, I can't talk about it right now. Damn Big Pharma.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The latest salvo in the controversy about vaccines, from a total insider

Another salvo in the long-running fight over the safety of vaccines, from a former drug company scientist. I can't wait to see how those who usually defend things like vaccinations are going to respond to the fact that 23 of the most common vaccines are made with human embryonic stem cells from aborted fetuses.

"Former drug company scientist Helen Ratajczak recently created a firestorm of debate from all sides of the vaccine-autism issue when she published her comprehensive review of autism research. This is a massively important study, for more than one reason. One element brought to light that has managed to stay well below the radar is the use of aborted embryonic cells in vaccine production.

CBS News recently reported: “Ratajczak reports that about the same time vaccine makers took most thimerosal out of most vaccines (with the exception of flu shots which still widely contain thimerosal), they began making some vaccines using human tissue (from embryonic stem cells).

Ratajczak says human tissue is currently used in 23 vaccines. She discusses the increase in autism incidences corresponding with the introduction of human DNA to MMR vaccine, and suggests the two could be linked.”

Source: Quoted verbatim from Dr. Mercola's current online newsletter

The latest salvo in the controversy about vaccines, from a total insider

Another salvo in the long-running fight over the safety of vaccines, from a former drug company scientist. I can't wait to see how those who usually defend things like vaccinations are going to respond to the fact that 23 of the most common vaccines are made with human embryonic stem cells from aborted fetuses.

"Former drug company scientist Helen Ratajczak recently created a firestorm of debate from all sides of the vaccine-autism issue when she published her comprehensive review of autism research. This is a massively important study, for more than one reason. One element brought to light that has managed to stay well below the radar is the use of aborted embryonic cells in vaccine production.

CBS News recently reported: “Ratajczak reports that about the same time vaccine makers took most thimerosal out of most vaccines (with the exception of flu shots which still widely contain thimerosal), they began making some vaccines using human tissue (from embryonic stem cells).

Ratajczak says human tissue is currently used in 23 vaccines. She discusses the increase in autism incidences corresponding with the introduction of human DNA to MMR vaccine, and suggests the two could be linked.”

Source: Quoted verbatim from Dr. Mercola's current online newsletter

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Factory Farms used 29 MILLION POUNDS of antibiotics in 2009

A quick quote from Dr. Mercola's newsletter today:

According to the first-ever report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on this subject, factory farms used a whopping 29 million pounds of antibiotics in 2009 alone. Back in 2001, a report issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists estimated that the non-therapeutic livestock use of antibiotics accounted for 70 percent of the total antibiotic use in the United States, and when all agricultural uses were considered, they estimated the share could be as high as 84 percent! Their report revealed similar statistics, estimating that nearly 25 million pounds of antimicrobials are used in swine, poultry and cattle production for non-therapeutic purposes, whereas 3 million pounds were used in human medicine.

So why are we surprised when antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria develop??

Friday, July 8, 2011

Of course we're entitled to it, it's our money!

Can someone tell me why Social Security and Medicare are disparagingly called an "entitlement" programs, as if that is somehow a bad thing? In point of fact, those monies were paid in by every single working person with every paycheck they've ever received. OF COURSE we are entitled to our own money plus interest accrued! It's a collective investment in our future. Brilliant, actually. Since most folks don't have the common sense or perhaps the know how to invest on their own, we as a nation decided to make sure everyone has a minimum social net. Why? Because it's much nicer to live in a country where people have the means to take care of themselves. So why are these programs being disparaged?

It was social programs like these that made and kept America strong, that kept our old folks from starving and dying without medical care, that keeps the disabled from starving to death on the streets. Go to any third world nation, and that is what you see, everywhere: people begging, starving, dying right there in front of you on the streets. These social programs are precisely what created the living standards that have made America the envy of everyone else in the world. Perhaps no longer . . .. When social programs are gutted, we will become like Russia and China, nations that throw away those who are no longer productive.

I know I don't want to live in a nation that doesn't value every single human life. Aren't we ALL God's children, after all? The poor, the feeble, the sick, the mentally ill, as well as the elderly? Of course we are! Now, stop your spoiled brat bellyaching and do what's right. Rich folks, pay your taxes. And while you're at it, why don't you offer to pay extra, just for the privilege of living and making gobs of money in free country? If you're so hot on American values, then support this country, don't cut it off at the knees. Refusing to pay higher tax rates is going to destroy the very fabric of this nation, our infrastructure, our social structure.

IF YOU LOVE AMERICA, THEN QUIT YER BELLYACHING AND PAY YER TAXES, IN FACT, PAY MORE THAN YOU'RE ASKED TO PAY. And if you don't want to give it to the government, then give it to charity. Where are all those vaunted Christian values, eh? Pay up, or get out.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Illness and Pain - an Effective Teaching Tool

I'm not a big Luo practitioner. I do Longitudinal Luos when I find them, and they relate to the health issue a patient is concerned about. Back in school days, I found the Luos kind of overwhelming. I am embarrassed to say that I got my worst grade in my Daoist Master's area of specialty, the Luos Vessels. So when I graduated, I decided to focus on Divergent, Sinew and Eight Extra Meridians in my private practice, all of which I feel very competent to practice.

But then, for the past few weeks, I've been getting joint aches all over, which is not usual for me. When I had fibromyalgia, I had pain all over but it was in the connective tissue, not the joints. So I searched of Jeffrey Yuen class notes to try to determine what meridian system would be the best to resolve my problem. After a few hours spent reading through various class notes, I ended up doing a Longitudinal Luo tx for chronic digestive problems, beginning with ST-40, then the Yang Luo related to the signs & symptoms (for me, PC-6), finishing by harmonizing blood with SP-3, the Source point of the ST Luo's sister meridian. Sure enough, my joint aches of the past several weeks were gone within 5 minutes. Wow! This stuff truly works, even when you are just learning how to use it. It's really kind of thrilling to see something work so perfectly. It feels almost like I am seeing a miracle occur right before my very eyes. But of course, it isn't a miracle at all, it is the result of having access to a profound and effective system of medicine. With no side effects, no less!

I sometimes wonder whether those of us who have chosen healing as a profession perhaps get an illness or health issue as a way to teach us, a presentation of a challenge, a test case for us to solve. Every time I treat myself, the problem gets fixed, but even more important than that, I have opened the door to a whole new area of medical understanding. Illness forces me to go back to my notes to research what the possible treatments are (which meridian system is most suited for this particular situation?), and then I am always amazed to see the problem resolve, usually immediately.

Is this stuff the bomb or what? I can hardly believe my luck. I am so blessed to have found Chinese medicine, and Daoist medicine in particular. It is almost unbelievable at times.

More Healthcare Means Less Health

We are a nation of druggies. We have come to believe that whenever something in our bodies is off-balance, we can simply take a drug to cover up the uncomfortable symptom(s) of that imbalance. This is not only foolish, it is very dangerous. Here are some statistics from Dr. Mercola's article on the subject of over-medicating by U.S. physicians:

The average American, aged 19 to 64, now takes more than 11 prescription drugs, according to the latest statistics from the Kaiser Health Foundation. Not even children are spared from excessive drugging, and seniors are taking a downright frightening number of medications.

The average annual prescription rate for children and seniors in the United States is now:

Almost 4 prescriptions per child (age 0-18)
More than 31 prescriptions per senior, aged 65 and over

This is the product of a medical system that offers little in the way of disease prevention and non-drug alternatives, and is challenged to think beyond drugs when a person comes in with a medical complaint. That is why the new report Principles of Conservative Prescribing, by Dr. Gordon Schiff, associate director of the Center for Patient Safety Research and Practice at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, is a breath of fresh air in a drug-saturated medical paradigm.
Here is the link to this article on Dr. Mercola's website: New Study Finds Doctors are Massively Overprescribing Drugs.

My own mother is an example of this overprescribing. I did a complete evaluation of her health when she turned 80. In Chinese medicine, we do a complex evaluation of the body's various pulses to determine the health of various bodily systems and organs. She had the pulses of a 40 year old. I was very happy for her. She did have some health problems (osteoarthritis, hayfever, migraines), but compared to most people her age, she was in great shape.

Two years later, she is feeble, and may lose a foot because of poor circulation. What is the difference? She is on 9 medications now. Her doctors are prescribing at least six drugs to prevent conditions she doesn't even have yet! That is more than ridiculous, it is bad science, and I am considering suing them for malpractice. There is no justification for that kind of overmedication. When someone is sick, their body is struggling. Instead of discussing with patients how they can support their body's built-in healing processes, physicians throw powerful drugs at the body, further challenging the body. Where is the logic in that? "Hit them while they're down." What kind of medical ethics is that? It boggles the mind.

One reason for many MDs' lack of interest in true healing is due to simple laziness. They no longer want to treat people by spending time with them, counseling them on how to maintain or regain their health. It is much quicker and less "dirty" than having to delve into a person's life and what might be causing their health problems. Just write a prescription, SO much easier!

Or perhaps it is because MDs have so little training (as in "none) in how to work with people to resolve their health problems through diet, lifestyle changes, etc. I am fairly certain that most physicians no longer even consider how the body works to right its own ship. They have completely forgotten to take into consideration how the homeostatic mechanisms built into the human body work to restore health when something has challenged the body. If you work against the body's natural methods of regaining its balance, of course you are going to make a person's health problems worse, much worse. That is only common sense.

I'm not the only one who believes this. Here is the abstract from a research study done by physicians at Harvard Medical School and the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and College of Pharmacy:

Judicious prescribing is a prerequisite for safe and appropriate medication use. Based on evidence and lessons from recent studies demonstrating problems with widely prescribed medications, we offer a series of principles as a prescription for more cautious and conservative prescribing. These principles urge clinicians to (1) think beyond drugs (consider nondrug therapy, treatable underlying causes, and prevention); (2) practice more strategic prescribing (defer nonurgent drug treatment; avoid unwarranted drug switching; be circumspect about unproven drug uses; and start treatment with only 1 new drug at a time); (3) maintain heightened vigilance regarding adverse effects (suspect drug reactions; be aware of withdrawal syndromes; and educate patients to anticipate reactions); (4) exercise caution and skepticism regarding new drugs (seek out unbiased information; wait until drugs have sufficient time on the market; be skeptical about surrogate rather than true clinical outcomes; avoid stretching indications; avoid seduction by elegant molecular pharmacology; beware of selective drug trial reporting); (5) work with patients for a shared agenda (do not automatically accede to drug requests; consider nonadherence before adding drugs to regimen; avoid restarting previously unsuccessful drug treatment; discontinue treatment with unneeded medications; and respect patients' reservations about drugs); and (6) consider long-term, broader impacts (weigh long-term outcomes, and recognize that improved systems may outweigh marginal benefits of new drugs).
And here is the link to this abstract, which you can print or email to your own physician for comment: Principles of Conservative Prescribing.

And here is a link to an article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine entitled, "Less is More: How Less Healthcare Can Result in Better Health": http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/170/9/749 Please print a copy of this article and give it to your doctor. You can be certain she or he has no idea of the harm they are doing.

Let's all do our best to usher in a new era of natural healthcare!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Witty comments from some great minds on the unnaturalness of most medicine

I have always appreciated the wisdom and wit of the doctor, poet and essayist Oliver Wendell Holmes. Here is his comment on medicine:
I firmly believe that if the whole material medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be better for mankind--and all the worse for the fishes.

Another famous quote about using natural methods to achieve or maintain health comes from the inventor, Thomas Alva Edison:
The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.

Or how about this lovely quote from Florence Nightingale:
We know nothing of the principle of health, the positive of which pathology is the negative, except from observation and experience. And nothing but observation and experience will teach us the ways to maintain or to bring back the state of health. It is often thought that medicine is the curative process. It is no such thing; ... nature alone cures. ... And what [true] nursing has to do ... is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him.

Ben Franklin was another genius who commented on the unnaturalness of what passes for medicine:
He's the best physician that knows the worthlessness of most medicines.

The Hippocratic Oath is traditionally sworn to by medical students upon finishing their studies and becoming a doctor. Here is the relevant passage from that document:
I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

The other great Greek doctor/philosopher that is considered one of the founders of Western medicine is Galen, and he is famous for saying,
First do no harm.
. If you expect to try to heal the body, you cannot use methods that work against its own healing mechanisms, at least not without doing enormous harm to the patient. That seems obvious, right? And yet the whole of modern Western medicine now consists almost entirely of drugs and surgical procedures that interfere with or even completely destroy the body's own healing mechanisms. What is UP with that?

It is my fervent hope that more and more doctors will tire of not being able to make anyone well, that they will tire of merely prescribing more and more medications and surgery, never seeing their patients get better, always seeing them get worse and worse. I know there are doctors who feel frustrated by their inability to make a real difference, but their training has given them nothing else to offer. Many of them went into the profession because they wanted to heal people, and instead they find themselves merely contributing to their patients' health problems.

I saw earlier today that Representative Barney Frank from Vermont proposed a new system of funding medical research. Rather than allowing corporations that produce medical products to run the show for their own profit at the expense of patients, there will be a fund made up of a certain percentage (0.05% I believe he suggested) of the GDP, which would amount to something like $80 billion, and that fund would underwrite scientific research. The fund would buy patents at a good price, so researchers are motivated to do research, but instead of big corporations getting the profits, the government could give the patents away and drug companies would be free to produce them at much lower cost. I thought it was a first step away from a medical system run by corporations for their own profit (bad medicine!).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tylenol shown to double the risk of developing a blood cancer

From Dr. Mercola's newsletter today:

A new study involving researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle revealed that 9 percent of their study participants who used large amounts of acetaminophen developed blood cancer, compared to 5 percent of those who took the drug and did not get sick.

Statistically speaking, this means chronic acetaminophen users had nearly twice the risk of developing blood cancer.

The risk was small -- chronic, "high" acetaminophen use raised the cancer risk from about 1 percent to 2 percent -- but still significant enough to raise serious safety concerns. Further, the definition of "high" use was using acetaminophen at least four times a week for at least four years -- an amount that numerous Americans could easily exceed without even realizing it. A large part of what makes acetaminophen so dangerous is that it's found in so many products; it's actually the most widely used painkiller in the United States.

My advice is to avoid not only prescribed medications at all costs, but also all OTC medications. They are not benign. I doubt taking one pill a month would hurt you significantly, but most people take them several times every week, or even several times every day! That is an enormous exposure to something that has been proven to double your risk of blood cancers.

When there are such good natural alternatives, why bother with painkillers that harm you?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First Aid . . . for Pets!

I was reading an article online this morning and a caption caught my eye: "If your dog was choking, would you know what to do?" No, despite getting trained regularly in First Aid and CPR as a healthcare professional, I wouldn't know how to stop a dog from choking. Dogs do have a habit of eating like wolves, that is, gulping down whole chunks of food without chewing. Choking would not be a hard thing to imagine.

I clicked on the link and it took me to the American Red Cross website where they were selling books, one on First Aid for dogs and another for First Aid for cats. As a lifelong pet owner, I realized that I didn't know how to do the Heimlich Maneuver on a pet. Now I do.

So for those of you whose family includes a beloved furry-faced, four-pawed member, you might want to read up on pet First Aid.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Alchemical Acupuncture, from Jeffrey C. Yuen

I was reading through my notes from a class in Chinese Philosophical Thought that I took with Jeffrey C. Yuen in the Fall of 2009. It was a wonderful class (well, I'm a philosophy nerd), and found this wonderful section on alchemical acupuncture:

One of the most important doctors of the Tang Dynasty, Sun Si-Miao, started using salt moxa on the navel. Sea salt represents the taste of Water, place it into the navel, then put moxa cones on top of that. As the salt absorbs the heat, it drives it into that area that is mysterious, the connection back into the source, Source Qi. That Fire will transmute that Source Qi, that Jing in your navel, and will allow you to do visualizing. If I am to go back to the formless, what form do I want to be in? The person is visualizing what they want out of their life. From the formless created the formless spark to generate form. You have to do this with “clarity, simplicity and purity, which brings completion.”

Begin with the "passage to the spirit" (Ren 8). Once this is activated, you have the "great meeting," the idea of Jiao, Exchange, between Yin and Yang (Fire meets Water). Then needle where Yin and Yang exchange, which is Ren 7,bringing Yang to Yin. Yin Jiao is right underneath the navel, and distally GB-35, left and right, emanating from that single point, nothingness giving birth to somethingness, Yin, and that somethingness gives birth to everything else. In Daoist cosmology, The One divides in two, the two give birth to a third, and the three give birth to the Ten Thousand Things (all the forms that exist in life).

Alchemical acupuncture is for patients who are stuck in their point of view. You’ve tried everything with them, but things just aren’t changing. They feel frustrated and don’t know where to turn next.

- Salt moxa on Ren-8
- Silver needles on Ren -7, and then GB-35 bilaterally. The needles will become tarnished by the impurities of patient’s life. (Silver is a much more powerful conductor of Qi, of electricity, than the stainless steel or copper needles we usually use.)
- During the needling, the patient is visualizing what they want in their life, who they want to be.

Best candidate for alchemy is a patient who thinks nothing is happening in their life. Patient cannot perceive any change, cannot feel anything happening. They may not be allowing changes to occur. They don't see any options for themselves, a very common state of mind. We have to open up their portals to help them get outside of their usual point of view, to open them to the possibility of change.

Practitioners, please let me know what results you get if you decide to try this with some of your more difficult to treat patients. Thank you. And thanks, Jeffrey. What a privilege to learn from you!

Monday, April 4, 2011

FDA Hearings on the Effects of Artificial Food Dyes on Children

Having just returned from testifying before an FDA committee considering whether to put a warning label on foods that contain FD&C synthetic food dyes, I am happy to report that although we lost the vote, it was close. Eight members of the committee voted against warning labels, and six members voted in favor. Not bad, considering how rich and powerful the chemical companies are. I'm considering it enormous progress in the fight for pure foods.

If you or someone you know of has ever had a reaction to a food additive of any sort, there is a webpage where you can go to report it. The FDA argued that so few people had reactions that they did not feel compelled to add a warning to food labels at this time. I know that isn't true. Just since posting on my Facebook page that I was going to testify about my own severe reaction to Yellow No. 5, a slew of people responded saying they knew of someone.

So here is the link:

I was happy to get an email from a lawyer who testified about her four year old son's extreme reaction to food dyes. Apparently top chefs are getting onboard, stating that they never use artificial ingredients of any kind in their foods, and recommend eating only pure foods. I have thought for several years now that approaching famous chefs might be a great way to get the word out about the harm that artificial food additives can do, from MSG to texturized vegetable protein (TVP) to artificial colors and flavors, to citric acid. This list is nearly endless.

My advice? Don't eat anything from a package. Eat fresh vegetables and meats and grains and nuts and seeds and fruits. Simple, right? And so delicious!!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Influence of the Earth School . . .

Life is short, so I want to blog about Taoist medicine, not so much about the intersection of politics and medicine in general, though I'm sure from time to time there will be things I think worth saying about that intersection.

But the utter passion of my life is the medicine brought to this country by Jeffrey C. Yuen, Taoist master, medical genius, and my teacher.  That is what the Transformative Medicine blog is primarily going to be about in future.

I noticed a single paragraph in my notes from the Third Weekend of the two-year herbal course I'm taking with Jeffrey:

"The question revolves around Ming Men. If you go back to the Nei Jing, there is no mention of Du-4 as Ming Men. There is a concept of Ming Men, but no specific location is given. According to CCM, the constitution should not be toyed with, you don’t use those points casually, represent sacred aspect of body. Irresponsible to go straight to pre-natal level when you can work with post-natal. So don’t treat middle back because you will arouse the lower back, refers to relationship of KI supporting the SP. Some people say Du-3 is really Ming Men! You would instead work with Du-14 instead."

This is an unexpected interdiction. I and most of my colleagues think nothing of applying moxabustion to Du-4, thinking we can tonify the Original Qi very directly that way (well, at least KI Yang).  But he's saying that it could be considered irresponsible to work with pre-natal qi when you can work with post-natal qi. I do a lot of Eight Extra treatments in my private practice, it's just the sort of patients I get, people who want to go in and work out all the kinks from their childhood and family relationships, and the various imbalances in their relationship to the world at large as well. Yet, Jeffrey here is pointing out that we should work with Du-14 instead of directly affected Ming Men.

Food for thought. Yes, why not use Du-14 instead of Ming Men?  It would allow the deepest energies of a patient's body draw from that well of Yang energy, rather than imposing my will as a practitioner on something so profound, so . . . personal as a patient's source of their deepest, most cosmic self.  The principle of non-interference. Jeffrey here is suggesting that we consider carefully whether it is the best choice to directly affect the gate through which a person's soul enters into this body, into this incarnation.  It is a sacred gate, Ming Men, and ought not be used to treat everyday issues.

We Westerners are so quick to take action, to DO something, to have an effect, to change things quickly and strongly.  Perhaps it behooves us as practitioners of an Eastern medical art to approach healing with less force, with less need for things to change quickly or obviously.  Developing a softer approach will require some self-cultivation for most of us in the U.S. Patience. Trust. Gentleness. Acceptance. These subtle qualities take time and attention to develop, but what a lovely thing to be working on!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The power of love

The title of this blog entry may sound corny, but it is nonetheless what I've been thinking about this morning.  I was feeling such a deep gratitude to my teacher, Jeffrey Yuen, for not only passing on his knowledge of Taoist Chinese medicine, but also because he is a true master.  What do I mean by that?  He walks his talk.  He lives and breathes compassion.  There is no judgment felt anywhere in anything he

Even those closest to me often say things that make me feel bad about myself.  Jeffrey just doesn't have that in him.  It's mystifying.  Here's my explanation:

He is not identified with his ego, therefore he doesn't need others to be anything other than what they are.  It is the ego that wants others to conform to our idea of who they should be.   Judging others does not come from the heart.  Love doesn't need anything to be different than it is.  Love is in love with the world exactly as it is, warts and all.  Love embraces every single thing about the universe, about reality, and loves it deeply and completely.

Now THAT sort of love is transforming.  After dedicating myself to alchemical work with Jeffrey (working on spiritual transformation rather than physical healing), I began to see all sorts of things shifting into a more positive, happier, more peaceful way of experiencing the world.  This love thing really does work.  I was hoping to be able to go through the experience of transforming my spirit to see how that affects the physical body and mind.  If I had a personal experience that it is possible to transform the body by transforming the spirit, that would then pass from me to my patients, giving them the ability to believe in the possibility of their own self-transformation through attention to the spirit.

I always wondered why great spiritual masters studied one on one with a guru type teacher.  If you've ever read Rumi, you know the ecstasy he expresses whenever he mentions his teacher, Shams, and the unconditional love Shams brought him to experience toward all of life.  Well, now I understand that kind of devotion, I have felt the indescribable gratitude one feels toward the person who has embodied that kind of absolute and all-embracing love in the world.   Jeffrey's example makes it possible for me to believe in the power of love to transform negativity.

It is one thing to learn by reading and studying or even practicing clinically.  It is another to know someone personally who actually embodies unconditional love.  The only other person I have ever met that gave me this same feeling of unconditional love was the Dalai Lama.  I met him twice, and felt bathed in the pureness of his love.  It was as if wisdom and childlike innocence were blended together.  Many things made him chuckle with delight, yet I know that he is a highly educated and brilliant man (he has studied astronomy, physics, neurology, the guy is no slouch in the brains department).

Thank you, Jeffrey, for being who and what you are, and for coming to the United States to pass on your great knowledge, wisdom, love and compassion.  Your students and the people they help through your medicine will be forever grateful.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Is your heart as light as a feather??

This morning I read an article in Oprah's email newsletter about the findings of Dr. Martin Seligman, one of the pre-eminent researchers and thinkers in the area of positive psychology.  Forty years ago when he was starting his career in psychology, he didn't believe in the powerful link between emotional outlook and physical health.  "But the data has grown year after year, and it's become a scientific certainty."  (If you would like to read the entire article on Oprah's website, here's the link:  "How Your Emotions Affect Your Health").  Our mind set determines our level of health, and our ability to heal from injury and disease. 

You would this was good news, right?  Well, it is, because it means we have a lot more control over our health and well being than we usually think we do.  But for someone like me, who was born with the tendency to see what is wrong with the picture  rather than all the things that are right, this presents a challenge.  To avoid being negative about this, I will point out that being able to see what is wrong with the picture makes for a great diagnostician, a very important skill in a healthcare practitioner.  

Luckily for me and all the rest of you who tend to see the glass half empty rather than half full, Stanford professor of education, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., entitled Mindset, The New Psychology of Success:  How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential.  Her message is that optimism is a learnable skill.  She calls this point of view the "growth mindset," that even if we fail to do something in this moment doesn't mean we won't be able to master it in the future.  People like me who rely on our inborn smarts to get things done become discouraged when we find ourselves unable to do something naturally.  If it requires effort, we must not be able to do it.  Carol Dweck says no, that is not so, we CAN learn to do things we don't immediately have a feeling for.  And that, of course, is very good news.  

As a practitioner of Eastern medicine, I find it hopeful that Western scientists are finally recognizing what we have been saying all along, that all illness is rooted in our imperfect understanding of the world.  (Ling Shu, Chapter 8, "Ben Shen")  Chinese medicine completely agrees with the statement that what we think and feel about ourselves and about our world determines our base state of health and also determines our ability to recover from illness when it strikes.

Several decades ago, I was an avid reader of Tom Robbins' novels, including Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Jitterbug Perfume.  In one of those books, he writes about the the passage from this life to whatever comes next.  After death, we arrive at a huge transportation hub, where we stand in line to have our heart taken out and measured on a scale.  If it is as light as a feather, we hop on the bus to bliss.  I have always loved that image, and so I challenge those of you who tend toward a heavy heart to give Carol Dweck's book a read.   It's a very interesting story that she has to tell, and she offers real help with how to go about changing your mindset to one of belief in your ability to learn and to change.  I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't be helped by her book, except maybe the one or two in a million people who were born optimistic.  Good thing we have her book for the rest of us!

Have a truly wonderful day.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Diet Sodas Found to Increase Risk for Strokes and Heart Attacks

As if those who love diet sodas haven't heard enough bad news (they don't help you lose weight, and may lead to Type 2 diabetes), now they have another reason to give them up.  If you have loved ones who drink lots of diet sodas (and I have many of them), you might want to pass this along to them:

As for diet soda, the researchers concluded that:
"This study suggests that diet soda is not an optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages, and may be associated with a greater risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, or vascular death than regular soda."
While more research will likely be needed to confirm this potential link, there’s plenty of evidence showing that aspartame can be dangerous to your health. I believe aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous artificial sweetener on the market. Reports of adverse reactions to the US FDA also supports this, as aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA!
Further on in the article, Dr. Mercola cites several reasons why aspartame (brand names include Equal and Nutrasweet) are so dangerous:

What Makes Aspartame so Dangerous?

  • Phenylalanine: 50 percent
  • Methanol (aka wood alcohol/poison): 10 percent that is formed from breaking the ester bond linkage of aspartic acid and pheylalanine.
Each of these comes with its own set of health hazards, which you can read more about on my aspartame page. Additionally, diketopiperazine (DKP) is created as a byproduct of aspartame metabolism in your body, and DKP has been implicated in the occurrence of brain tumors.
OK, wood alcohol (isn't that the stuff that made people go blind during Prohibition?) and brain tumors!  Scary stuff, indeed.  Here's the link to read the full article:   New Study says Diet Sodas Increase Risk of Stroke

I'll bet that reading about the dangers of Aspartame will make your loved ones (or you?) think twice before gulping down another diet soda.  Seltzer with a squeeze of lime makes a nice soda, for those weaning themselves off of diet sodas.  I know, it ain't sweet, but it is delicious and thirst quenching.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Soda as the primary cause of obesity in America?

I was shocked to read this morning in Dr. Mercola's newsletter that,

"Researchers studied the reported diets of a large nationwide sample of American adults. Among respondents of the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES):
-  More than two-thirds reported drinking enough soda or sweet drinks to supply them with a greater proportion of daily calories than any other food.
-  Those who consumed sweet drinks had higher obesity rates."
I know I have family members who drink soda and who struggle with their weight.  I imagine most of us do, if these numbers are to be believed.  If this research is true (and the American Dietetics Association also did a study that came to the same conclusions), maybe this is THE primary cause of obesity.  Could losing weight be as simple as cutting out soda?  
Note that diet soda may be even worse because, as a Harvard study found 35 years ago (I read the study when I was still in college), diet sodas trigger the release of insulin but there is no sugar that needs to be shoved into cells, and so the blood sugar plummets.  And the sugars get put into adipose tissue because there is nothing to trigger the Glut4 receptors which tell the glucose to go to the muscles instead of being stored as fat.
Even eating a lot of fruit (fructose) can cause you to store fat rather than feed your muscles.  Oh, dear, this is truly a much longer story.  I'll have to get back to you in another post.  Let's consider this the tip of the iceberg, just enough to get you interested in doing your own research.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Polio vaccine now found to be causing cancers . . .

Of course it's disappointing to find out, too late, that the vaccines you had as a child may now cause serious forms of cancer.  And this is not coming from some crackpot, this is coming from the horse's mouth, the very scientist who developed the vaccines at Merck decades ago.  To read the whole story, click this link:

Cancers traced to back to simian viruses in original polio vaccine

Friday, February 25, 2011

Don't use antibacterial soaps to wash hands

I've known this for years because I read an article about a young student who performed an experiment for a Science Fair and proved that antimicrobial soaps not only do not work any better than soap (physical removal of microbes) but actually contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.  (That was 15 years ago.)

Here is a current study that shows the same results.  Happy reading!

Myths About Hand Hygiene

Playing the muse . . .

I was reading about DonorsChoose.org in the magazine Fast Company, and was inspired by the idea that perhaps we can change the way our country funds various projects.  I realized that people enjoy giving money directly to the people who can most use it, rather than paying money in taxes and seeing a lot of it wasted on jumping through various administrative hoops, all of it is used to buy school textbooks or microscopes or whatever.  That hit me.

We should fund our government's various projects--war, schools, hospitals, railroads, highways, research, etc.--allowing those paying for them (taxpayers like you and me) to choose where we want our monies to go, rather than letting a lot of crooked senators and representatives, both at the federal, state and local levels, funnel them into their favorite special interest projects, the things that will enrich their posse rather than make life better for those of us footing the bill.

BRILLIANT!  Hey, any genius politicos out there, some young Turk willing to do things differently?  This is a truly democratic way to do things, and you may argue, but maybe everyone will want to fund war instead of schools, but I doubt that.  More people will choose to fund their neighborhood schools than a war no one wants to send their kids to, believe me.  Yeah, there will be billionaires who own a lot of private equity stock in the military-industrial corporations where all the money goes when we pay for a war, and they will funnel all their tax dollars into the war, so their tax dollars come right back to them.  But most of us are going to fund our local hospitals, our local schools, our local homeless shelters, our local services for the blind, etc.

Go online and read the article on p. 96 of the March 2011 issue of Fast Company, and you will see what I mean.  It is thrilling to see first hand how your money is being spent, and how deeply and completely it is appreciated by the students it has helped.  You will never want to pay your taxes through the government again!

Come on, innovators!  Come on, policy wonks.  Let's have America lead the world into a new era of direct funding.  DONORS CHOOSE!!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Here's a lovely description of the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Tonglen = "Giving and Receiving"

Tonglen is a spiritual practice that helps people feel more compassion, for the pain and fear in themselves and others.  It is a lovely meditation.  Here is Pema Chodron's description of that practice:


I hope it helps you to fall in love with yourself and the entire world, just as it is.  It is not only possible, it is inevitable!  How sweet is that?!

Friday, February 11, 2011

From Rigpa's Glimpse of the Day

Sogyal Rinpoche wrote today:
"Your compassion can have perhaps three essential benefits for a dying person: First, because it is opening your heart, you will find it easier to show the dying person the unconditional love he or she needs so much.
On a deeper, spiritual level, I have seen again and again how, if you can embody compassion and act out of the heart of compassion, you will create an atmosphere in which the other person can be inspired to imagine the spiritual dimension or even take up spiritual practice.
On the deepest level of all, if you constantly practice compassion for the dying person, and in turn inspire him or her to do the same, you might heal the person not only spiritually but perhaps even physically. And you will discover for yourself, with wonder, what all the spiritual masters know: that the power of compassion has no bounds."

(I don't think there is anything I could possibly add to that.  It is perfect.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Military turns to acupuncture as alternative to prescription painkillers - Stripes - Independent U.S. military news from Iraq, Afghanistan and bases worldwide

Most people would agree that the various branches of the U.S. military are rather conservative folks. They have to be, since the battlefield conditions require them to be able to follow a strict chain of command under the worst kinds of pressure. So when all the branches begin to adopt acupuncture as a healing modality in their field hospitals, their hospitals back here in the states, and when wounded warriors swear by acupuncture's efficacy, I think that's a pretty darn good testament to the efficacy of acupuncture. Who needs double blind trials when you have tens of thousands of wounded vets saying it has helped with their pain and helped them avoid addictive painkillers with severe side effects. This article is from "The Stars and Stripes," the military's own newspaper.

Military turns to acupuncture as alternative to prescription painkillers - Stripes - Independent U.S. military news from Iraq, Afghanistan and bases worldwide

Monday, February 7, 2011

An Empty Cup

For some reason, human beings want to be special, gifted, accomplished, respected, and well paid.  OK, let's be honest.  I want to be special, gifted, accomplished, respected and well paid.  But when I read the Daoist sages, it is clear they have a different perspective.

If you want to be a conduit for the divine energy that created the universe (or, more accurately, that IS the universe), you need to be an empty vessel.  You must empty yourself of all preconceptions, of all judgments, of all desires, of all opinions, of all concern for self in order to be useful to the divine.  You must empty yourself if you want to be filled.

It does make sense.  How can you be guided by the subtle voice of the divine if you have already made up your mind where you are going, what you want to happen, and how you are going to accomplish it?  How can you follow the subtle movements of the divine flow if your opinions are already set in stone?   (Ahem.  I know, I am the most opinionated person I know.  Well, except for maybe Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.)  Opinions close the door of your heart.  Can you imagine living life without any set ideas?  Without any judgments about how things should be?      A good meditative practice.

I was reading through Steven Mitchell's translation of the Tao Te Ching this morning to start my day off right.  I was searching for a quote that embodies this blog entry, and found myself browsing through his explanatory Notes at the end of the book.  I ran across this:

"There is no God when there is nothing but God."

What could I possibly add to that?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Here's why I don't drink tap water (our water in NYC is fluoridated and has a LOT of chlorine in it)

Another new study shows that exposure to fluoride may lower children's intelligence.  In addition to toothpaste, fluoride is added to 70 percent of U.S. public drinking water supplies. PR Newswire reports:
"About 28 percent of the children in the low-fluoride area scored as bright, normal or higher intelligence compared to only 8 percent in the 'high' fluoride area ... in the high-fluoride city, 15 percent had scores indicating mental retardation and only 6 percent in the low-fluoride city."

In addition to this study, and the 23 other IQ studies, there have been over 100 animal studies linking fluoride to brain damage (all the IQ and animal brain studies are listed in Appendix 1 in The Case Against Fluoride available online athttp://fluoridealert.org/caseagainstfluoride.appendices.html).

Citation:  http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fluoride-in-water-linked-to-lower-iq-in-children-112261459.html.  This was quoted in Dr. Mercola's online newsletter.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Enormous helpings of "healthcare"

An email I received this morning asked me to sign a petition asking the new Congress to make healthcare reform a priority.  The group is non-partisan and focuses on issues relating to women and families, and has been around for 30 years.  I had never heard of them, so I began reading their website before signing on to their platform.  Here are some interesting statistics they cited:

*     The average 75-year-old has three chronic conditions and takes five prescription drugs. 
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Merck Institute of Aging & Health (2004). The State of Aging and Health in America 2004. Retrieved October 2, 2009 from, http://www.cdc.gov/aging/pdf/State_of_Aging_and_Health_in_America_2004.pdf)

*     Chronic conditions limit what an individual can do in everyday life. Approximately one out of four people living with a chronic illness experiences significant limitations in their daily activities.  
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Chronic Diseases: The Power to Prevent, The Call to ControlAt a Glance 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2009, from http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/publications/AAG/chronic.htm.)

*     People with serious chronic conditions use a variety of methods to finance their health care including savings (38 percent), government aid (36 percent), borrowing or receiving money from another family member or friend (27 percent), and/or taking money from a retirement fund (16 percent).  
(The Gallup Organization (2002). Serious Chronic Illness Survey. Washington, DC.)

If you want to read their website yourself, here's the link:

Now, their conclusions are that care should be coordinated to achieve better outcomes.  While that is true enough, that is not what I see in these statistics.  What I see is a medicine that causes more harm than good.  The Associated Press did a survey of medical research which showed that the more medicine people received in the United States, the worse their health was.  (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory?id=10843361)  

That bears repeating:  The more healthcare people received in the United States, the worse their health was.  Wow.  That pretty much says it all.  Western medicine is not healing people, it is harming people.  What would Galen think?  What happened to "First do no harm"?  With Big Pharma driving the world of Western medicine, healing is not the goal, making enormous amounts of money for themselves and their shareholders is the goal.  Big Pharma does not have patients' best interests at heart and anyone who is naive enough to believe that deserves the kind of medicine they are getting.

The one person in the world who has your best interests at heart is yourself, and perhaps your loved ones, if you are lucky enough to be loved properly.  I am proud to be in a medical profession that cares first about the patient, and last about how much money they are going to make.  Yes, we have to make a living, but we did not go into this profession to make a lot of money.  We spend $100,000 on getting a four-year professional degree, and yet we cannot participate in the federal government's programs to provide medical care to underserviced areas.  Physicians can, nurses can, physical therapists can, but we acupuncturists cannot, despite our ability to effectively treat the chronic diseases that Western medicine has little to no success with.  And all because the Western medical system has no ability to see anything but their own paradigm.  More people around the world use our system of medicine and use it well.  They are healthier than we are, for heaven's sake!  Why does that not say something loud and clear to any sensitive medical practitioner?

Sigh.  So we simply do our work, and remain quiet about it, letting those who understand their relationship to the natural world and its order find us and regain their health their natural means.  I can only hope and pray that more and more people will be driven into our arms by the horrible nature of the pharmaceutical school of medicine, disenchanted by the increasing numbers of health problems they have as they take more and more pharmaceutical medications. 

Sadly, I have a very personal experience of this.  My mother was in terrific health only a few years ago.  I did a thorough workup of her and was shocked to find she had the pulses and tongue of a 40 or 50 year old person!  I was very impressed.  I have great genes on both sides of my family, who live healthfully into their 90s before finally losing latency and showing signs of the degenerative diseases that ultimately overcome them.  So I was surprised when my mother began taking a turn for the worse only two years later but when I was caring for her after a fall that dislocated her hip and laid her up for three weeks, I discovered that she had been put on no less than 9 (nine!!!) pharmaceutical medications.  Most of those were PREVENTIVE, to prevent her developing heart disease or some other possible problem.  I could not believe the medical reasoning that was used to dope her up on these powerful medications.  But she believes wholeheartedly in popping pills, so there is absolutely nothing I can do.  While caring for her, I worked with my brother, a physician, to wean her off of half her medications.  We had her down to four from nine.  Many of her medications were duplicates, that is, she was being given two different medications for the same thing!  I was so depressed to see the way medicine is being practiced these days.  At first I was angry, but then I realized that she bought into that system (my father was a physician who also believed in popping pills).  She is the victim of her own faith in a system that is not built around keeping her well, but in getting her to consume as much medicine and surgery as possible. 

Now, that is not to say individual doctors don't care about their patients, they do.  But they, too, are blind to the implications of the modern way of Western medicine.  What other sort of prescription has a doctor ever given you?  Do they ever prescribe any natural means of getting better?  Do they ever heal the source of the problem, or merely tamp down the symptoms?  Please, write me to let me know if your doctor has ever given you anything other than a prescription for a pharmaceutical medication or surgery.  Those are the only two things they learn in medical school, and how sad is that?  What happened to all the old time hands-on doctoring?  I know, it isn't cost effective.  They can't make any money spending time with their patients.

Well, guess what.  The vast majority of those who practice oriental medicine spend an hour with each patient at each visit.  We spend two hours on the first interview and examination.  We never give a patient anything harmful to take or to do, and we spend time instructing them in numerous ways to help themselves regain their health.  WE SPEND TIME.  No, we don't make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, true enough.  But we know that the medicine we are practicing will never do harm, that it always makes the patient's health better, and most of the time makes them feel much better as well.  We alleviate suffering while building up their emotional resilience and spiritual strength so that they can make better choices and live a happier, healthier life.

I am so very proud to be a practitioner of this beautiful, thoughtful, restorative medicine.  I thank my lucky stars that I bumped into it in my own search for a way to regain my health.  I am well and truly blessed.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Write your life."

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you feel as upbeat as I do.  I know the world is facing enormous political problems, due to a long-standing childish denial of the realities of living on a planet that is not infinite, yet I feel excited by the new year.  I've been spending time reading notes from various courses I have taken with the Daoist master Jeffrey C. Yuen, with whom I studied in graduate school, and invariably that fills me with a sense of awe at the deep beauty that is ancient Chinese medicine.

I'm working on two books at the moment, both of them involving Daoist medicine, and despite knowing how long it may take to complete them, I am very happy about both of them.  Twenty some years ago I took a course in "Core Shamanism" with Michael Harner, Ph.D. at The Open Center in lower Manhattan.  It was an eye opening experience, and I found that I felt completely at home performing shamanic journeys.  In one journey, I asked what I should do to make money in a way that was completely in line with who I am and what I have to offer to the world, and my spiritual guide at that time picked me up like a paintbrush, and with my hair as the brush, wrote across the sky "Write your life" in paint that was all the colors of the rainbow.  Quite a psychedelic vision, but a very direct answer.

You would think that might be an easy instruction to follow.  Not so.  What could I possibly write about my life that would be at all interesting?  Yes, I've lived a rather unusual life and worked in quite a wide variety of professions, beginning at a young age.  I sat down to write the actual story of my life beginning in childhood.  There are some fascinating stories there, but I couldn't seem to find a thread on which it all would hang.  Who am I that anyone would care to read my story??

Also, writing about my actual life stories was simply not interesting to me, and I felt certain that I should enjoy the writing of my life, not just grind something out to fulfill the requirement.  And so, 20 some odd years later, I still had not written my life.  Until now.  Finally, at along last, I have begun the real story I was meant to write.  In a dream a couple of weeks ago, I finally found a form for telling my story, in a way that I would enjoy the telling.  While it will be the story of my life, of who I am and who I have been and can be, it is also a fictional story.  And in this form, it is finally a story I think others will enjoy reading.  I have never read a story anything like this one, and so I am happy to be telling a story no one has heard before.  How fun to work on it and see where it goes!

The new year looks very promising.