In practicing traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), there is a wide variety of methods to create a diagnosis. Perhaps the most obvious to our patients is asking questions. Many patients find that when they come in for their first acupuncture treatment, we (the acupuncturist) ask many questions pertaining to the “chief complaint” as well as other aspects of well-being. For the acupuncturist, the answers to the questions give us our first clues as to which energetic channels are out of balance and where the pathology is located. Next, palpating (feeling) the pulse and observing the tongue are more objective methods in supporting (or not) our preliminary diagnosis. [Read more…]
I first started with acupuncture as a patient. I was living in Chicago – in my mid 30’s and I was dealing with a number of physical health issues – nothing too serious – and many that were caused by the stress in my life. I was not “sick”. There really was no need for me to go to the doctor. Why would I anyway? I had great respect for my internist and knew that she was an excellent diagnostician. If there was any test that were needed – I would be there in a heartbeat. However, I also knew that what I was experiencing was considered “normal” by many standards.
I was working in a stressful job – in sales and marketing – overseeing a large geographic area – metropolitan Chicago. [Read more…]
In modern day society, people have come to accept various health problems as “normal” occurrences of life. However many of these disorders, or imbalances, are not “normal” from a traditional Chinese medical standpoint. Specifically, we commonly see hot flashes and night sweats to be accepted as a rite of passage into menopause. There is, however, another way! [Read more…]
The value of sleep is severely underestimated in today’s culture. Many people come to accept the fact that getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night is adequate for proper functioning. Long term sleep deprivation, however, may be the beginning of a long and slow decline in health. Sleep allows the body to restore and heal itself. When people are not getting enough time to “recharge their batteries”, this is when bodily functions may start going haywire. For many people, finding time to sleep is not the problem, but rather the ability to fall and stay asleep is what is keeping people awake. [Read more…]
The use of acupuncture and Chinese medicine is an important key to support the body’s innate immune system. No matter what time of year, it is important to maintain a healthy immune system which provides protection against frequent infections, common cold and more serious illnesses. Traditional Chinese medicine recognizes different organ functions to be responsible for specific functions in the body. The concept of immunity involves 2 major organs: spleen and lung. The energy, or qi, of the lung is responsible for defense against external pathogens. However, the ability of the lung qi to protect the body relies heavily upon the production of qi from the spleen. [Read more…]
Come join Julie Shindler-Cohen at Karma Yoga to learn about Women’s health and Chinese medicine. Julie will discuss general Chinese medical theory and will explore women’s health and prevention in more detail. Attendees will gain a greater understanding of how Chinese medicine treats the body’s natural energetic balance as a means of preventing and treating an array of symptoms that arise throughout a woman’s lifecycle.
DATE: Tuesday November 22
PLACE: Karma Yoga 3683 W. Maple Road (At Lahser Road)
COST: $20 at the door/$75 for the series
Julie will be offering one course in a series entitled “Soma & Agni”, which offers information about women’s self care and lunar cycles from an Ayurvedic perspective. The course will be each Tuesday in the month of November from 2-3:15 at Karma Yoga. Please look at the Karma’s website for more details about the seminar!
I recently had an interesting herbal encounter with a patient. She was telling me that she’s taking a Chinese herbal formula from her physician that was full of Chinese herbs that are “adaptogens”. I was absolutely intrigued. When I asked her exactly what was in it, she couldn’t remember any specific herbs but was sure that it contained a long list of Chinese herbs. My understanding of Chinese herbal adaptogens is new and still in progress. This understanding of herbs is a modern approach to Chinese herbalism and I often struggle to find a balance between classical and modern Chinese herbalism.
Classically, Chinese herbs are arranged into categories that describe the general function of herbs. For example, herbs that tonify qi, drain dampness, clear heat, etc. Within each category, each individual herb has its own taste, temperature and specific function. The properties of each herb are important in herbal formulas and modifications. Herbs are always prescribed as formulas, or combinations of herb that achieve a specific treatment principal. (In fact, the text book for formulas is called “Formulas and Strategies” because a formula is indeed a strategy for treatment.) The effectiveness of a formula comes from the synergistic qualities of all the herbs. This is important to keep in mind when new research comes out regarding specific pharmaceutical properties of individual herbs. Sometimes people hear in the news about a Chinese herb that has “estrogenic effects” or have questionable side effects. This sort of information completely discounts the nature of classic herbal formulations. Sure, one herb contains a variety of actions but when it is used in a formula with several other herbs, specific effects of single herbs become moderated. That’s the beauty of Chinese herbalism! Formulas were designed to offset any “negative side effects” and to balance the herbs to yield the best effect for the patient (and, ideally, with NO side effects).
Now back to adaptogens. Needless to say, the classic material medica (Chinese herbal compilation) did not identify those herbs that can be classified as adaptogens. It is very exciting to practice Chinese herablism in an age where scientific research is able to determine these more fine-tuned properties of herbs. However, it can become overwhelming when writing formulas for my patients. I welcome these discoveries and always include the modern strategies in my formulas. However, I stay focused on the classic Chinese medical approach in choosing the basis of formulas and incorporate the modern approach in making modifications. I hope that by balancing old and new strategies, my patients will find relief in their symptoms and make better progress towards healing!
Chinese Medicine Tongue Diagnosis:
Most of our clients who come to the office bristle at the thought of having their tongue diagnosed. When we first ask to see the tongue, most are embarrassed. “I did not brush my teeth before I came in” or “I ate blueberries” are common responses. We are often asked to explain what we are looking for and what changes
we have noticed. With this in mind, I thought I would to explain the importance of Tongue Diagnosis in traditional Chinese medicine.
Like other diagnostic methods in TCM, the skill and intuition of the acupuncturist is an important part of tongue diagnosis. It is not uncommon to have 5 acupuncturists
each have a different take on the tongue. An experienced practitioner will be able to give a more accurate interpretation. [Read more…]
As women, we are pressured to stay slim, a desire encouraged by the world around us, by advertising, by magazines, by popular culture.. And
yet, our bodies change as we age – mostly beyond our control.
Midlife hormonal changes require new eating and exercise habits if we are to maintain current weight and shape. Mind and body conflict with
no sense of balance between the two. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, balance means a harmonious way of feeling, being and thinking.
Everybody (and every body) has their own natural state of balance.
There is a concept in TCM called the eight perimeters. When a body is in balance, we feel good. By observing how we feel and making comparisons,
we determine areas in our body where we need strengthening as well as areas where we can eliminate and “let out steam”. [Read more…]