Perhaps you have a parent, relative or friend who has undergone surgery for knee osteoarthritis (OA) or is thinking about it? Perhaps you yourself have considered it. While knee surgery can be necessary for certain conditions such as serious tears to the ligaments, it is well established that it is not useful in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis and may cause more harm than good.
This article looks at the findings of a recent study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine showing acupuncture to be more effective than intravenous morphine when used for acute pain in the emergency department. Click on the link below to check it out.........
As a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, I want to contribute some food for thought on how we view sugar, and also shed light on some of the problems it can cause.
Chinese medicine carries the weight of well over 2,500 years of empirical evidence. That’s a whole lot of wisdom gleaned from observing over and over again what happens when certain foods are eaten in varying quantities. The Chinese understand the energetic properties of each food, namely the effect it has on the body and mind. Chinese medicine and food are inseparable…. food is always seen as medicine.
In Chinese medicine there are the 5 tastes: Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Salty and Astringent. Each flavour is associated with an organ system, and in the case of ‘sweetness’ it’s the Spleen. For the Chinese, the Spleen relates to the Earth element and it, along with the Stomach, are the primary organs of digestion. The Spleen transforms the food we eat into substances which are used to generate Qi and Blood. ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ you might say, ‘My Spleen doesn’t do that and there’s nothing wrong with it!’ Stay with me…. the Chinese were referring to our digestive function when using the ‘Spleen’ concept.
In the right amount, ‘sweetness’ will nourish the Spleen. However an excess, especially in the case of added sugar, can damage it. If you have a ‘weak Spleen’, then you will often crave sugary foods. Moderate amounts of ‘sweet’ foods like pumpkin or sweet potato help to nourish and strengthen it. The refined sugar in chocolate, cream doughnuts and pasta sauce only serves to weaken the digestive system further. This can become a vicious cycle of sugar addiction and declining health. Sounds familiar?
If the Spleen is not working optimally, then we don’t have enough Qi and Blood. If we are lacking in Qi we may get tired very easily. If Blood is deficient we might have a paler complexion than usual and, in the case of females, minimal menstrual blood, possibly with period pain. Spleen deficiency as it is known, can also lead to ‘Dampness’, which can manifest as weight gain, mucous imbalances and a feeling of ‘heaviness’ and lethargy. Most modern day digestive complaints such as IBS type symptoms are also related to the concept of Spleen dysfunction.
Now, you might find it interesting that Chinese medicine also associates excessive worry and prolonged sitting with damage to the digestive system. I suspect this is at least partly due to our digestive organs being all squashed up, lacking good blood flow and not being able to function optimally when we are sitting for prolonged periods.
So perhaps this is you or someone you work with? Sitting at the desk all day without going for regular walks, worrying about work deadlines without taking time out, all the while nibbling away on sugary snacks like chocolate to try and relax. If so, this is a vicious cycle and sugar cravings are as much a problem as they are a symptom.
As for refined sugar, the Chinese were never eating it, at least not until the modern era. In Chinese nutritional medicine ‘sweetness’ refers at least in part to the natural sugars and carbohydrate found in whole foods. It shouldn't come as any surprise that foods indicated as being good for the Spleen are also generally low in fructose.
Remember, ‘sweetness’ in moderation is necessary. Sugar is not.
It could be time to throw away those crappy old fry pans that have the Teflon coating flaking off and adding an unwanted seasoning to each meal. We all suspected a chemical substance that magically made our food not stick but seemed to like finding its way into our meals might not be so good for us. This article looks at the link that has been established between thyroid disease and Teflon exposure http://www.smh.com.au//breaking-news-national/thyroid-disease-linked-to-use-of-teflon-20100122-mojm.html
These clinical findings and the article itself are not new but it’s a good reminder that replacing your ageing fry pans with stainless steel or non Teflon based non stick surfaces instead of another Teflon coated pan is probably a wise choice. Your thyroid might just thank you.
The thyroid is in fact a very important endocrine gland located in your neck and if it begins to suffer under the weight of a hundred and one modern afflictions you may have trouble with everything from your blood pressure through to your weight, body temperature, energy levels, sleep, digestion and more.
I commonly encounter thyroid disease in the clinic and am very interested in treating it through the use of acupuncture and very detailed attention to all the causal factors. Functional medicine (addressing the underlying cause of disease) is so important, especially when it comes to the thyroid.
Time to talk all things sugary......
Our modern diet has changed in so many ways. While many human societies throughout history and even today have and do struggle through food shortages and famine, we here in Australia today are generally pretty lucky. The problem now is not enough, but rather too much, and too much of things that are not good for our bodies. The list of trouble makers in the modern diet is long but one very important one is sugar. Too much sugar and the wrong kinds of sugar are putting our bodies under a great deal of stress and contributing to a long list of health complaints. Chinese medicine understood the potential for excess sugar to cause health problems well before the modern sugar frenzy we now find ourselves in.
For this reason, I have joined the ‘I Quit Sugar’ initiative as an expert on their panel to provide advice and answer questions for those people undertaking the 8 week program. The program is not about promoting fad diets or obsessive eating habits, it is simply about assisting people to reduce their intake of sugar in a healthy and balanced way. The program encourages people to observe for themselves how their body responds and the health benefits that reducing sugar offers from both a physical and mental well being perspective.
If you would like to know more about the why’s and how’s of reducing sugar in your diet, I am always happy to assist.
It has been an intensely hot and humid summer this time around and this extreme weather can often aggravate existing skin complaints or even see new ones appear for the first time. Eczema, heat rash and fungal infections are just a few of the common skin conditions that both adults and children alike can suffer from during the warmer months. While the weather can aggravate or even trigger many skin problems, it is always important to understand and treat any internal imbalance in order to resolve the symptoms and prevent a reoccurence. Chinese medicine offers some great, drug free options for the effective treatment of these stubborn skin complaints.
I have been treating a child recently for both eczema and a viral skin condition known as Molluscum Contagiosum. The symptoms of these two conditions have been effectively controlled through the use of high grade herbal liquid extracts and the application of a topical cream containing a Chinese herb known as Huang Lian, which has powerful antibiotic like properties. The concentrated liquid herbal extracts are very well tolerated, especially by children with only a very small amount diluted into water.
If you are suffering from a stubborn skin condition or have a child who is, a qualified and experienced Chinese medicine practitioner is a great place to start.
For further information or appointments, contact Sean at the Bodyweb Clinic in Balmain.
Do you enjoy running or know someone that does? Running can provide an excellent form of exercise for the whole body and is a great way to maintain cardiovascular and respiratory health. It can also be an important part of improving or maintaining psychological wellbeing and stress management. The term "runner's high" is used to describe the nice happy feelings that come after a good run.
For these reasons, it can become quite distressing when the enjoyment of running is disrupted by pain and injuries affecting the knees, lower legs, feet or ankles. Some people may be familiar with "runner's knee" which is not nice like "runner's high" and causes pain and aching around the knee cap. Other people may be familiar with "shin splints" which can make running pretty much impossible until the pain subsides. In the acupuncture clinic, injuries associated with running are very common.
So why do many runners tend to suffer from these problems? Well, I undertsand there to be two main causes. The first is that most of us are running nowadays on hard flat surfaces such as concrete and bitumen and secondly that we are doing so in shoes that we were not designed to run in. Our biomechanics are affected with running shoes and the heel of our foot tends to be the point of impact rather than the ball of the foot as in the case of barfeoot running. This can place additional stress throughout the body including on major joints such as our knees.
All hope is not lost. Considering modifications to what surface you run on and the type of shoe you run in can make a huge difference. Understanding more about which parts of your body might need some strength and conditioning work can also be very helpful. To get relief from running associated injuries and to discuss more about how to avoid them in the future, contact Sean for a consultation.
A Short History of Medicine
I have an earache:
2000 B.C. -- Here, eat this herb.
1000 A.D. -- That herb is heathen. Here, say this prayer.
1850 A.D. -- That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
1940 A.D. -- That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
1985 A.D. -- That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.
2000 A.D. -- That antibiotic doesn’t work anymore. Here, eat this herb.
I first saw this ‘Short History of Medicine’ many years ago in a GP’s clinic funnily enough.
Herbs are not ineffective or weak as you may have been led to believe. They can act as strong antimicrobial agents within the body and can provide a host of other benefits to our digestive systems and overall health. It comes as no surprise that a common feature of traditional diets throughout the world including Chinese cuisine is the inclusion of key herbs and spices.
A simple way to start exploring their benefits is by incorporating the most common and readily available (any easy to grow) herbs into your everyday meals. Herbs like oregano, thyme, rosemary and mint have strong antibiotic like properties. These herbs also assist your body in digesting the food you have eaten. For anyone who experiences digestive complaints, cooking with more of the right herbs and spices can help to relieve symptoms such as bloating, gas and indigestion. The end result is a more efficient digestive system, increased resistance to infection and an overall happier and healthier you.
If you would like to learn more about specific foods, herbs and spices that would be of benefit to you in maintaining health or managing a chronic illness, contact Sean at BodyWeb Holistic Health and Acupuncture Clinic .
Please click on the file below to read about depression and how Chinese medicine can provide supportive care.