All posts by Ryan Less

Oatmeal non-milk milkshake

Oatmeal Fruit Smoothie (aka The Oatmeal Breakfast Milkshake)

1 Cup of fruit (frozen berries work nicely)
can use mango, banana, citrus, etc..

1 or 2 packets of quick or instant oatmeal (uncooked)

2/3 cup of water (roughly)

Combine in a blender at high speed until smooth. If it is too watery just add extra oatmeal. If too thick add a bit more water. For more fruity taste simply add more fruit.

You will get a creamy fruity oatmeal milkshake. In only a few minutes you can have a healthy drink full of antioxidants, complex carbs, fiber, vitamins, and great taste.

Chinese Herbal Medicine: An Overview

OVERVIEW

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the indigenous medicine of China, which developed over the last 5000 years.  It employs three main methods/therapies to restore health to patients: herbal medicine, acupuncture, tui na (massage).

While it is acupuncture that has usually grabbed the headlines here in the U.S., it is actually herbal medicine that is considered the primary method of treatment by the Chinese themselves; at least in so far as TCM is concerned.

All three therapies in TCM (herbal medicine, acupuncture, tui na) are based on the same fundamental theories.  It is this sophisticated theory that helps make Chinese herbal medicine so successful.

Pattern Discrimination: What is it?

Most people who want to take an herbal remedy ask a question something like this: What herb can help my X (x being whatever problem they have)? This implies a single remedy for a single problem. For example, if you have gout, get some sour cherry juice. If you have a urinary tract infection, take a cranberry pill.  If you have inflammation take curcumin, for liver problems take milk thistle and artichoke. Its not that this is bad per se. But it could be better.  How so? Ah, that is where pattern discrimination comes in.

Let’s say you go to your doctor because of headaches. It is his/her job to figure out the cause of the headache. If you had neck tension that is severe, maybe a muscle relaxer helps.  If you had migraine, maybe Imitrex helps. But what if the problem is bacterial meningitis? You can’t treat that with a muscle relaxer or migraine medicine; you need antibiotics instead.  The point is that there is not ONLY ONE remedy for headache. Rather, there are many. And finding the right one will depend on getting the correct diagnosis.

A pattern discrimination is a similar thing. When you come into our clinic for a visit, we must determine which ‘pattern of imbalance’ is specifically causing your symptom.  Only after this is done can a Chinese herbal remedy be chosen. Let’s look at an example to make it easy for you to really grasp. Once you have this example stored in your memory, then you will be able to know about Chinese medicine on a deeper level.

Two patients come in complaining of low back pain. Let’s call them Larry and Sally.  Larry has pain that came on suddenly. He thinks it started when he did some extra yard work a couple days ago.  Now it aches and he notes that it improves once he gets moving. But pressing on the area or massaging it aggravate it.  Sally on the other hand has low back pain that came on slowly over time.  It started as a mild little ache, but in the last two years it has slowly gotten worse. It seems better when she rests, and she notices that it is worse by the end of the day.  Sally says that her back ‘feels weak’.

Obviously Larry and Sally are experiencing two very different sets of symptoms. In fact, two patients like this came into the clinic. And, as you might guess, they received two different treatments.

The point is that to treat a patient, we look at more that just the chief complaint.   In fact, the chief complaint is only meaningful when it is seen in the context of all the other signs and symptoms the patient has.  When all this information is woven together, it forms a ‘pattern’, and this pattern will direct the practitioner to the correct herbal formula.

CAN HERBS REALLY BE EFFECTIVE?

Chinese herbs can be VERY effective.  Just like anything else, they will not work 100% of the time, nor can they cure every disease known to man.  But they often can have a significant beneficial impact, sometimes even when other therapies have failed.  And the effects can be quite noticeable to the patient.  A few months ago, a woman came into the clinic because she had a severe yeast infection with vaginal itching, discharge, and was constantly feeling uncomfortable.  She had taken prescription drugs for some time, and they had given no relief.  The herbs we gave her began to give relief within a day, and 3 days later she felt about 75% better.  By the end of one week the yeast infection was eradicated.  Another great example is a patient who came in with significant fatigue.  After one week of herbs the fatigue had vanished.

Not all cases are that simple however.  People with more signifcant problems such as fibromyalgia, CFIDS(chronic fatigue syndrome), or conditions like lupus, may take longer to get reasonable results.

Chinese herbs do not work by magic. They take time and care.  And, in some cases, even the best crafted formula can fail.

RESEARCH

While Traditional Chinese medical theory is sophisticated and beautiful, how about some research.  Can herbs really affect the body? Consider for one moment that 25% of prescription drugs are actually directly derived from natural substances.  AN example is Digitalis, a heart medication which come from the flowering plant foxglove.  How about the antibiotic penicillin? It comes from a common mold.  Therefore it should be no surprise that Chinese herbal medicines can have very real benefits that have been studied and researched.  Here are a few examples:

The Chinese herb jin yin hua (lonicera flower) has shown to be able to inhibit the growth of 73.9% of oral pathogens, and also has a strong ability to inhibit influenza and HIV viruses.  This info is from the following references

Sun Y. et al. Antimicrobial properties of flos lonicera against oral pathogens. China Journal of Materia Medica. 21(4):242-3 Inside Back cover, Apr 1996

Chang W. et al. Antiviral Research. August 1995

The Chinese herb yan hu suo (rhizoma corydalis) exerts strong anti-inflammatory effects and can help with both acute and chronic inflammation.  It also has analgesic(i.e. pain killing) properties. The references are below

Kubo, M. et al. Biol Pharm Bulletin. February 1994

Zhu, XZ. Development of natural products as drugs acting on central nervous system. Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz. 86 2:173-5, 1991

Suffice it to say, Chinese herbs offer people a multitude of opportunities to improve health and well-being through real mechanisms of action on the body.

Therapeutic Massage/Bodywork with Adriana

About Adriana Szyda, L.M.T.

Adriana, a fully licensed massage therapist,  completed her professional training in massage at the Swedish Massage Institute in New York City in 1995.  Having over 15 years of clinical experience, she has developed a skill level that is praised by clients and colleagues alike.  Some of the settings in which Adriana has worked include the outstanding Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center (Astoria, NY), where she worked in the rehabilitation clinic; physical therapy clinics in Manhattan (where she worked with professional dancers); in New York City at the Waldorf-Astoria, Plaza, Hilton.

Since graduating more than 15 years ago, Adriana has not only  gained valuable clinical experience, she also continues to enhance her knowledge through advanced  professional training programs.  She has professional level training in deep tissue manipulation, myo-fascial release, cranio-sacral therapy and others (all listed below on the fee schedule).  Currently, Adriana is completing post graduate training in manual lymph drainage and neuromuscular techniques. It is this continued dedication to  training and education  as well as her experience that makes Adriana a quality therapist.

We are very happy to have her here at New England Acupuncture & Herb Clinic, where we are sure you will benefit just as much as our other clients have.

To discuss your specific needs and make an appointment please call 518-794-0098 or 413-212-2687

Click here for fees.

Accessory Techniques:The Other Part of Acupuncture

The Chinese word for acupuncture is zhen jiu, and translates as ‘needle and fire’, or as ‘acumoxa therapy‘. Where does the fire come from? Well, there is a technique that has been employed by acupuncturists over the ages, and it is called ‘moxibustion’.  It is a special form of heat therapy. Below, we will describe this and some of the other techniques which, while lesser known here in the U.S., are quite valuable.  They are commonly used by acupuncturists all over the world, and we at New England Acupuncture & Herb Clinic utlizie them whenever they can be of value to the patient, offering another way to move closer to the desired therapeutic outcome and achieve success.

Moxibustion

As alluded to above, moxibustion is a special form of heat therapy commonly used as part of acupuncture. Not every patient will receive moxibustion. But when it is used, its effects can sometimes be remarkable.

Essentially, the practice of moxibustion involves the burning of various substances near the acupuncture points on the body. While there are some forms of direct moxibustion (i.e. burning it right on the skin), we do NOT use the direct method here at the clinic. Instead we use the indirect method, which means the moxa is comfortably held at a distance from the body while the heat gently penetrates the body and benefits the patient.  Patients find this therapy very enjoyable.

The most common substance used for moxibustion is artemisia vulgaris, an herb. Wen it is ground up and prepared for use in the clinic, it can resemble brown cotton, or ground up twigs. Other substances can be used for various therapeutic reason. Indications for the use of moxa include pain worse with cold and better with heat, a tendency to feel cold all the time, fatigue, conditions which in chinese medicine would be termed, ‘damp conditions’, and others. It may even be indicated in breech presentations in pregnant women.

The moxibustion is said to increase the yang energy of the body, dispel cold, promote cirulation of qi and blood, and transform damp. One of the wonderful uses I have found for moxa, is its use in helping older women who experience a feeling of distention and discomfort in their urinary bladder, but who have no infection. They often also have a feeling of  incomplete voiding of urine when they go to the bathroom. Another specific example of the use of moxi is cases of arthritis where the joint pain is worsened by cold weather. For more examples of real life cases treated here at the clinic please go to our case history page. There we have posted some of the cases we have treated, in order to illustrate some of the principles of how Chinese medicine works and the results that can be attained.

Cupping

Cupping is pretty straight forward. It is the application of ‘suction cups’ to specific areas of the body, most often the back and shoulders. This technique can be combined with others, or used by itself. It can be very effective for relieving muscle tension. This is its most common use. Sometimes the cup(s) is placed in a particular spot and left for a few minutes. Other times hypoallergenic massage oil may be rubbed into a broad area and the cup can be moved back and forth over this area. That is termed ‘moving cupping’, or ‘sliding cupping’. There are some people who may be sensitive to the pressure, but most patients seem to find it fine, and even quite pleasant.

Tui Na (no, its not pronounced “tuna”.  It is “tway na” or “twee na”, depending on who you ask).

This translates as ‘pushing and grasping’. While it sounds a bit rough, it is not. Actually, it is a sophisticated and ancient form of massage developed in China. It has been imported to other coutries where it was modified to fit their needs and cultures. The prime example that comes to mind is Shiatsu, which is what tui na became after it was imported to Japan.

Tui Na, sometimes called Anmo, or amma, is based on the same theories and principles as all of Chinese medicine. Thus, it too works to stimulate or relax the acupuncture points and channels that lay on the surface of the body. It also works directly on the muscles, ligaments and tendons. Some patients have described it as a ‘complex form of acupressure’.

In summary, Chinese medicine offers many therapeutic techniques. Each one brings with it a good deal of value and benefit. They are non-invasive, quite safe, and often highly enjoyable.