Acupuncture in Western Society

Off The Cuff:  A consumer viewpoint of Acupuncture in an American medical system.

The Tree from which Acupuncture Comes from
Acupuncture has been an integral part of Chinese culture through the centuries since ancient times. The Chinese have used many modalities in effort to cure the ill health. Broadly speaking, Chinese Medicine can be divided into several basic areas: Acupuncture, Herbal, Dietetics, Massage, Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, Qi-Gong (Personal Energy cultivation), Lifestyle, and Feng-Shui (harmonizing with ones environment). To a large degree, Asian martial arts is intimately connected to all of these medicinal arts though the opposite is not necessarily true.

A professional who practices the traditional Chinese medical modality of Acupuncture can be as generalized or specialized as he or she cares to be as they can be influenced or experienced in any combinations of the above mentioned medical modalities. Acupuncture itself has a myriad of systems (i.e. Channel-based, 5 Element, Scalp, Auricular, and many others).

Professional Turf Wars & Cultural Acceptance
Not all “traditional” Chinese medical techniques are recognized in the United States due to cultural practices, inter-profession conflicts and legal and insurance limitations. The various established professions work hard to draw the line between their fields and where Chinese Medicine may overlap, and, conversely, this includes when Western professions have adopted the use of acupuncture-type techniques such as using non-hypodermic needle therapy which should fall under the realm of a Licensed Acupuncturist.

Moreover, Licensed Acupuncturists in the United States, unless they’ve earned a Doctorate of Oriental Medicine (DOM), cannot market themselves as “Doctors” or “Physicians” although “Doctor” is common parlance used by Acupuncturists’ patients. By plain definition  (meaning non-American-medical-system-and-insurance-legalese), an Acupuncturist can fill the role of a physician, as Acupuncturists are able to promote, maintain and restore health, diagnose symptoms and treat conditions, this is what Acupuncturists actually do even when engaged in simple pain management… just don’t expect to see “doctor” on his calling card or website.

Early Mass Media Exposure
Since President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, pain management has been the most commonly publicized and accepted use of Acupuncture in Western society. The public was amazed by a patients having abdomen surgery while being conscious and under the influence of acupuncture-based anesthesia.

This exotic publicity helped Acupuncture gain broad awareness in Western society but only in the scope of managing pain symptoms. Nowadays,  as a patient in most Western hospitals it is rare to hear a doctor refer you to an acupuncturist even if pain is your chief complaint.

Institutional Limitations
Even when a large medical facility has an acupuncture staff, it is not in the protocol of MD’s to prescribe acupuncture, you’ll need to request it if it is not voluntarily offered. The use of acupuncture in a Western Institutional setting can be so specialized it may fall under mental health or other less visible department.

Even a Physical Medicine department, which specializes in handling musculoskeletal issues which Acupuncture (as a non-pharmaceutical based therapy) would normally be well adapted to, it is only recommended if the particular MD is cross-trained in Acupuncture. Generally speaking, You’ll need to go to an integrative clinic which incorporates Eastern and Western medicine to get a seamless protocol driven referral from a Western MD to acupuncture therapy.

Acupuncturists as a Hub
Acupuncturists can refer their patients for Urgent Care, imagining (i.e. X-Ray, MRI etc) or for labs (i.e. Blood panels) or to other interdisciplinary health fields (i.e. Chiropractors, Social Services, Mental Health). Referrals to other outside services are not always necessary, it depends on the assessment of patient symptoms or the diagnosis and whether treatment fall under the scope of practice of an Acupuncturist.

Safety 
A professional Acupuncturist in the United States is certified to perform “Clean Needle Technique” or a quality assured method of needle types, insertion, manipulation and disposal in a way that is safe for the patient and environment. Additionally, since acupuncture relies on the restoration or rebalancing of the body’s natural healing processes, there are no adverse affects related to introduction of harmful exogenic substances that may be found in pharmaceuticals.

 

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Blogger’s Note:  Acupuncture can also be used to detoxify by helping regulate body functions used to eliminate and process toxins. If you are a student studying for the State or National Boards , please consult your textbooks for official answers!

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How Acupuncture works

Off The Cuff: Thoughts on Acupuncture
How it works from a layman’s point of view

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) origins go back to ancient history so the common lay explanation of how it works does not usually involve how it regulates hormones or nerve synapses, reduces inflammation or improves the circulation of blood and lymph fluids which are based on Western science and medicine.

In the modern day, TCM is a comprehensive system which offers several modalities to treat a patient, one of which is known as Acupuncture. Acupuncture involves inserting fine and sterile metal needles into the body. It is through the needle’s effects on the body’s natural energies and disease causing disturbances that restoring of the body’s own self healing functions can take place.

From the TCM viewpoint, what causes a disease state (or most anything you might see a doctor for) can be caused by External or Internal factors. Examples of External factors are trauma, exposure to toxins, poor diet, life stresses, and environmental influences. Internal can be constitutional weaknesses, the consequences of long term external factors, and the effects of unresolved emotions.

According to TCM theory, free flowing energy through the body’s normal energy pathways results in good health and any of the above External or Internal influences can obstruct the free flow of energy.

The ability of an acupuncture needle or set of needles orchestrated upon the body reduces  the disease causing obstructions so that the body can better return to its natural state of self-regulation and good health.

 

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Blogger’s Note: This article represents a renewed effort to post health articles on BestBuckBuck.com. Acupuncture can also be used to detoxify by helping regulate body functions used to eliminate and process toxins. If you are a student studying for the State or National Boards , please consult your textbooks for official answers!

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Point to Point Summary – July 18, 2015

Point to Point Summary 7-18-2015

by Challen Yee, L.Ac.

I am a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in California since 2007. I am also certified nationally as Diplomate of Oriental Medicine and also licensed to practice in Hawaii. 

My ongoing theme in my Point to Point series is to explain in simple terms to help convey the application of acupuncture to the public and those who are largely unfamiliar with the ancient medicine.

For your convenience, I have summarized my recent and ongoing Instagram posts.

 

 

Best to follow me on Instagram if you want real-time updates for Acupuncture with minimum noise. I post to Twitter and Facebook from Instagram, but the other media venues tend to cover a variety of other non-health subjects.

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Acupuncture and Detoxification

Point to Point Summary 6-20-2015

by Challen Yee, L.Ac.

I am a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in California since 2007. I am also certified nationally as Diplomate of Oriental Medicine and also carry a license to practice in Hawaii, where, back in the 1980’s, I served in the Navy stationed aboard USS Bremerton (SSN698) a nuclear attack submarine (which at the time of this post is the oldest operating submarine in the US Navy). Currently I am working on my Certification for Applied Clinical Nutrition.

While my focus on this blog has not been my practicing acupuncture, there is certainly a connection between detoxification and how acupuncture stimulates the tissues of the body.

One of the reasons for the simple practice of drinking a cup of warm or tea drinking temperature water after an acupuncture treatment is to help your body off load toxins that have been stored in tissue, released into the blood stream by acupuncture stimulation. The release of toxins is a reason why people may feel a bit fatigued after a treatment.

The general public is still pretty oblivious to the applications of acupuncture, so the idea came to me when I was treating myself one night that I start sharing my knowledge with you.

Although many people have a phobia of needles, it remains a strong value of acupuncture that it can help the body in many ways without the introduction of harmful exogenous-toxic chemicals – That fact in itself makes acupuncture a worthy addition to the lifestyle of those who desire to lessen the need for pharmaceuticals and their overloading of the body’s capacity for natural detoxification.

For your convenience, I have summarized my recent and ongoing Instagram publications of some simple acupuncture practices and concepts. The last one (which was my first post) was only one Facebook, not Instagram.

Pain – Calf

Precautions – Scars

Pain – Shoulder

Tennis Elbow

Insomnia

Carpal Tunnel

Adrenal Support

#1Colon/Appendix Maintenance (was posted on FaceBook, not on Instagram)
point1

Point to Point: Performing acupuncture treatment on myself to help the appendix area. In acupuncture we often use points along an acupuncture “channel” or pathway to balance an area of concern. The point shown here is below the knee and is confirmed by centuries of empirical data.

Best to follow me on Instagram if you want real-time updates for Acupuncture with minimum noise. I post to Twitter and Facebook from Instagram, but the other media venues tend to cover a variety of other non-health subjects.

 

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Weight loss with Intensity

Have you been trying to lose weight by exercising and not making any progress?

You may need to take this tip easy at first, but (pending your physician’s approval and your own common sense) I suggest that you start doing a series of short and intense workouts.

The problem with your everyday mild aerobic workouts is that you’re not tapping into the massive reserves that your body possesses.
One of the ways you can tell you are not tapping into your massive reserves is that you are not exhausting yourself enough.

You’ve heard the saying, “If you don’t use it you lose it.” However, Were not talking about your extra weight.
If you don’t use fat it stays. What we are talking about is your lean muscle mass.
If you don’t use that you will lose it.

With Bob Wheat, working out 5-6 days a week on the Navy base in the early 1980's, San Diego, CA

Intensity with Bob Wheat in the early 1980’s.  I’m taking the photo.

 

Burning with Tabata

In the lean muscle mass are a bunch of little critters called mitochondria, an energy producing dynamo, a bacteria in its former life before it combined with a human tissue cell. Lean muscle cells with high power output can have several mitochondria per cell. They convert glucose to energy.  Oxygen is a key part of the conversion.

So you can see, if you are essentially starving your body of oxygen by exercising intensely, you are also  burning glucose like crazy. And if you make a regular routine of burning the extra glucose, the fat reserve will start being used to address your need, assuming you are not pounding down a high simple carb or sugary diet.

The way to do this intense workout without burdening your free time is to do what is also known as a “Tabata”, an exercise system designed by a Japanese researcher Dr. Izumi Tabata.

The way I was instructed by Jeanette Birnbach, DC. is you do a series of 8 quick routines, 20 seconds activity and 10 seconds rest.

The intention of this 4-minute workout is to be completely wiped out, struggling for air, like you tried running a 4 minute mile.

 

Chronic Pain as a Roadblock

The actions you choose should involve your whole body and be done as intensely as possible. If you have weak or painful joints, however, you will likely self-adjust or limit your movements accommodate them until they can handle the extra stress.

Since I often work with physically challenged patients, it’s can be a challenge for them  to mimic most of the athletic people you see doing their version of tabata on an internet video. I use Acupuncture treatment and Chinese Medicine massage therapy to help restore range of motion and reduce pain  of problem joints and muscles. At the same time, to perform the exercises, a reduction of range of motion and keeping within the patient’s “comfort” zone is necessary.  An anti-imflammation diet and lifestyle work synergetic ally with a workout routine.

 

Workout Customization

The beauty of this, is that you can tailor your own set of movements, but best to use movements that involve both arms and legs. Mountain Climbers (burpees), jumping jacks, and variations of those are good examples. Motions and/or stances that exert both arms and legs with rapid as possible movements. Even if you are not just focusing on your waistline, eventually the exertions of your whole body will begin to reduce the fatty mass around your midline.

Once you graduate the basic level and get you motions down without killing your joints, you can incorporate some mild weights and that will stimulate more building of lean muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat, therefore building muscle will counter the loss of weight, however, you will burn more fat. Remember, more lean muscle means more energy, and a better ability to burn extra calories and fat.

 

Exercise as part of a Detox Process

It is important in any kind of detoxification process, like this type of workout is part of, to make sure you are not constipated and you drink plenty of fluids. Moreover, before and after an intense workout, is the best time to supplement with easy to digest proteins, like a smoothie with either powders and/or easy to digest high protein food. I strongly recommend you nourish your body right after a workout, when those new and revitalizing lean muscle cells have their doors open for nourishment.

The last thing you want to do is eat a bunch of junk food and a soda. Just imagine personal trainer giving you a stern rebuke that moment before you put low-tech fuel in your supercharged dragster.

 

Exercise is Essential and make it Fun

One of the guys at the gym where I work out, Mike, a 400-meter specialist who is built like a brick house, mentioned that it is the consensus amount athletes that nutrition without the exercise gives marginal results, what he actually said was “Does nothing.” People must exercise to get the optimum results from their diets and if you’ve had problems breaking through a wall in your progress of taking weight off or other health issues. Consider the benefits of adding a short intensified workout.

For you cynics out there, the reason exercising is not promoted and is not in your awareness as much as diet and nutrition, it is not easy for someone to make money off your actual exercising. You can exercise without buying anything special, unlike food and supplements, which virtually everyone needs to buy in order to use.

This routine I’ve suggested here is capable of getting you through the wall, but you’ve got to do the work. Moreover, you’ve got to make a commitment. Any program to lose weight takes a concerted 1 year effort minimum to help ensure you don’t crash backwards. If you’ve been flipping back and forth, each iteration will be harder for your to take it off and keep it off.

Make it fun, start easy, you can be creative, dance, martial art moves,  and unleash your inner awesome self, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and with intensity.

****

BONUS: Some folks were wondering what an 8-count Body Builder is: here’s a link to my you-tube video for an example: https://youtu.be/x9DYmpa6dNE

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Reflections on my father and cancer

Note: Originally posted as “Foods for Inoperable Shrapnel”

Considerations for Carcinogenic Substances in the Body

 

In May 1996, at the age of 75, my father became a victim of pancreatic cancer. He was a World War II U.S. Army combat veteran. In 1945, while fighting in the Philippines, he was seriously injured from an explosion that riddled his body with shrapnel. He spent over a year in rehabilitation and was discharged from the Army afterwards.

In his civilian life, he was self-employed as a commercial roofing contractor since the 1960’s and also involved with electric vehicle repair, so he was in regular contact with various industrial and automotive chemicals.

Moreover, for many years one of his shops was located near a dry cleaners, a place that spewed condensation into the air that felt like sprinkling rain as it settled to the ground. If you’ve done any research into the causes of cancer, you could say that he was exposed to many environmental toxins that could be carcinogenic, or cancer-causing.

He was hard-working, fitness conscious, socially active, community oriented, did not smoke, drank very little alcohol and an avid runner since the 1970’s.

His sudden illness and death came as a shock to the people who knew him.

It is unfortunate that the general public’s understanding of nutrition through virtually all of my father’s professional life was pretty misinformed compared to the growing awareness now of what constitutes a healthy diet. It has been kind of a whiplash effect from the days of when processed food was considered the solution to all dietary needs.

Having been regularly exposed to toxins, it would have been a good idea for a person like my dad to have a diet high in vitamin C foods, cruciferous vegetables and other natural anti-oxidant foods. These would have been a good toxic counter-measure, in addition to a diet with Omega-3’s and a minimum of processed  and synthetic foods. Supplementation with high quality vitamins and mineral products would be highly recommended given uncertainties in the nutrition quality of the typical available food supply (refer to my older  blog article ).

Although I was not inspired to pursue a career in medicine until about 6 years after my father died, part of why I chose to learn about medicine is I know that feeling of helplessness when a loved one is suffering from an unforgiving disease and when conventional medicine offers no solutions except to rely largely on lethal chemicals and opiates for pain.

During his illness, I remember  hoping there would be some new drug trial thinking that maybe the next unapproved drug could perform a miracle. At no time in the process do I recall anyone suggesting holistic or nutritional medicine as either a curative or preventive measure.

C47

My father’s was a member of the 11th Airborne in WWII. Here members of the 11th gear up  for a one-way ride on a C-47.

 

Pancreatic Cancer

When someone passes away from cancer (or more accurately, complications as a result of the cancer), particularly pancreatic cancer, the root cause is often unknown. What we do know are that many toxins or malnutrition conditions can alter the genetic expressions of cells, in other words, disturb their normal functioning.

Furthermore, pancreatic cancer is a disease that often strikes quickly and fatally after diagnosis due to its detection typically being at a late stage. With my father and many other cases I have learned about or know personally, 2 to 3 months is a common period from diagnosis to death.

The pancreas is ‘hidden’ behind other organs and closer to the spine. One of my father’s first symptoms was severe back pain, one day it became so bad he could not drive comfortably in his truck and had to let my mom drive while he lay down. It was very unusual to see him in such pain.

In the 1970’s, he had herniated his back or was diagnosed with some kind of bone degeneration and his doctor advised him to stop running. He loved running so much, he continued to run, at first progressing gradually, and eventually he ran without any back pain. It had healed. At first, we all thought his new pain was just another back injury.

What can we do to help, before something happens? While we may not be able to determine the cause for a cancer to go malignant, we can look at abnormal conditions in the body and its surrounding environment and  then consider if there are some simple methods to help resist the formation of cancer based on those known abnormalities or exposures to high levels of toxins.

 

Back to the Present…

I received an idea last weekend when I attended a continuing education class on nutrition called “Fantastic Over 40: Nutritional Solutions to Healthy Aging” given by Jeanette & George Birnbach, DC. The days of the seminar (May 2/3) almost coincided exactly with the 19th year since my father passed away from pancreatic cancer on May 1st, 1996.

This idea came to mind when Ms. Birnbach presented us evidence from a scientific study about the synergetic effects of three foods: Garlic, Milk Thistle (Silymarin) and Hawthorn Fruit (Chinese “Shan Zha”).

Each of these foods have a  chelating effect for toxins. In layman’s terms, each has an ability to latch onto a toxin in your body and make it easier for your body to get rid of it. But what is special about these three together is that they are especially good in the process of excreting toxic metals out of your body.

The study tested the ability of over 30 herbs to bind to cadmium, lead and mercury. While no single herb performed the best at binding to all three, a combination of the three herbs in particular provided the best results. See chart below.

Source: "Fantastic After 40" a Standard Process (Northern California) Seminar given by Jeanette & George Birnbach, DC.

Source: “Fantastic After 40” a Standard Process (Northern California) Seminar given by Jeanette & George Birnbach, DC.

 

I correlated this to another possible cause of my father’s cancer –  shrapnel

My father, when he served in combat in World War II was severely injured by a satchel charge, a bomb in a sack with a bunch of unsterile metal scrap for projectiles. His paratrooper buddies thought he was dead at first, yet they managed to carry his body away from the front line. He was fortunate to have survived and was returned to the States.

Despite the surgeon’s best efforts to remove all the shrapnel from my father’s body, there were still some that they could not remove. He was considered 50% disabled at the time of his Honorary Discharge from the Army in 1946. From 1945 until the day he died, he carried these shrapnel in his body. (To read more about my father’s combat experience, read my article here).

 

What if he had taken medicinal foods regularly as a simple post-operative prescription?

Having these three herbs in his diet is not only safe to take on a long term basis in moderate quantities, they would have been an inexpensive addition to his diet as a natural detoxifying agent. While these ingredients could be found in fresh or preserved form, they can also be taken in the form of organic-supplements, which are readily available, for ease of consumption.

It is difficult to convince most people to adopt preventive measures, because they will not see a change if all is successful. But you can compare a person with a healthy diet and lifestyle and compare with one who does not. In reality, we ALL have ways we can improve our health through incremental changes in our daily habits.

 

BONUS:  Toxicity-Decreasing Lifestyle Tips

Here are some simple tips on how you could live a less toxic life. I composed this list with a variety of sources in mind.  Which do you need most to incorporate into your life now?

1) Permanently replace a junk food or toxic substance with something more healthy. Repeat this process on a weekly basis until your diet is straightened out. Read more articles on this blog for more tips.

2) Adults should get 6-8 hours of sleep regularly. Less than 6 can trigger inflammation and stress. More than 8 suggest other issues.

3) Moderate exercise at least 3 times per week. In general, the older we get, the less demanding we need to be for general health. Unless you are driven by a particular passion (like entering a triathlon or going to ExtremeSealExperience), what most people did at 20 just is not necessary for someone who is 60 to maintain basic health and to slow down the aging process.  Whatever you do, even if you pickup a leisure interest like social dancing, incorporate a short workout routine that utilizes all muscle groups and exercises your range of motion. Check with your doctor, do some research and see what fits your individual situation.

4) Meditation. Clearing your mind of incessant clutter is highly underestimated. Just intentionally and gently clear your mind when you are awake for a few minutes per day. No need for weird chants or cosmic robes, unless that turns you on! And NO, doing this while you are sleeping does not count! Meditation deals with another compartment of your mind than the one you use for sleeping.

5) Kindness. Make practice of being kind and expressing that kindness to others. This will help you spiritually which is an often an overlooked one-third of life. Since our physical, emotional and spiritual selves are interconnected, you will see a physical health benefit in putting your good intentions and compassion to action.

6) First thing in the morning, drink two cups of clean warm or mildly hot water. See if this works for you, it can help flush your system of toxins and help you start your day hydrated and work to keep you from being constipated (if you are constipated, work on this issue asap as having regular bowel movements are critical for proper daily self-detoxification). By the way, the general daily rule is to consume half your body weight in ounces of water daily.

 

Physiologically speaking, what are we trying to accomplish with a toxicity-decreasing lifestyle?

The “Car Door” Analogy

When your body must harbor a toxic substance, there is a higher probability that it will interfere with the normal functioning of cell operation. Imagine that a piece of debris gets caught in the keyhole in your car door, at some point your key will not open that door. So you open the car from the other side, but eventually that door doesn’t open. Since you’re too busy to take your car to the shop to get it fixed, you start crawling through the hatchback if your car is so equipped but then eventually that one gets jammed also.  Now you are SOL., you cannot get in the car, that cell no longer functions for you. When this happens to enough cells that perform a specific function, whether it’s generating white blood cells, producing hormones or repairing the lining of your gut, more bad happens.

Keeping up with a healthier routine will help keep those door locks free of crud and if you have specific abnormalities, you can do some reasearch to help your body stay more in balance.

 

The “Mopping the Floor” Analogy

You can keep on mopping the flood water off your kitchen floor, but it’s a lot easier if you unclog your sink and turn off the water first.

**

 

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Simple Diet and Detox Recommendations

I invite you to please leave one of your favorite simple dietary suggestions or detoxification tips in comments to help others who visit this post.

If you are in a LinkedIn group, in order that the suggestions are centralized, I would also ask you to also go directly to my website to leave your simple suggestion there.

Okay now…

I want to thank you for supporting my blog here at BestBuckBuck.com.

It’s been almost a year since I started this, my first blog, and it’s been a rewarding experience in terms of learning how to blog and doing some research on simple ways a person can lead a healthier existence by doing some simple and natural dietary changes.

A photo I shot and used in an old article on The Season's of Life. Another season is about to pass.

A photo I shot and used in an old article on The Season’s of Life. Another season is about to pass.

I always encourage my friends and patients to get their diets in order. I’d rather they get healthy rather than having to keep on coming back to me to fix their pain.

The sad fact is with many patients, their lifelong embracing of bad or decadent habits, sometimes lifestyle bombs along with voluntary or involuntary exposure to toxic environmental influences have built up a cache of burden in their bodies that purging and cleansing are necessary to help begin reversing the course of their disease conditions. I’d like to believe if you’re reading this you can reverse the damage done – you have hope if you can adhere to a simple strategy.

In modern society, we are surrounded by influences that are non-stop biding for our commitment to consume, including in the world of medicine. In moderation most is well, but without self-control and awareness, we run the risk of sacrificing our ability to live healthy lives.

What is known about good nutrition, for the most part, has been known for many decades, although mass marketing and publicity, or the latest government direction tends to cause people to jump on the bandwagon or magic bullet of the day.

One of the biggest trends we unknowingly face is the amount and variety of toxins we are exposed to. The risks and damages caused by many commonly used materials or chemicals are yet to be discovered by protection agencies and will not over the course of years if not decades. This blind-eye approach to public safety has happened in the past and no doubt will occur in the future.

For your information, I have decided to put BestBuckBuck in indefinite stand down in terms of  adding new articles. In the meantime, I hope you will still find value in the humble collection of advice here to aid in your pursuit of better health through dietary change and purposeful reducing and combating of toxin exposure.

Again, feel free to add your favorite dietary or detox suggestion in the comments.

Thank you again,

Challen

5-26-2014

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