Nice article on the benefits of moxa, a modality I love. Moxa is typically in stick form and is the comprised mainly of the herb, mugwort (Ai Ye). The heat and properties of this herb can very beneficial towards healing.
Moxibustion helps runner Alex Rowell prepare for the Bolder Boulder
By Joyce Davis For the Reporter-Herald
Posted: 05/18/2013 01:51:54 PM MDT
For centuries, acupuncture has been a form of healing. Originating 5,000 years ago in China, it's the oldest healing process known to mankind. Recognizing a vital energy force within the body called qi (chi), acupuncture considers illness a blockage that must be removed by manipulation of needles at specific points within meridians of the body. As balance and harmony of chi is restored, symptoms of the illness disappear.
Acupuncture treatments are designed to make the body strong and resistant, says James Damman, certified acupuncturist and instructor, who has offices in Loveland and Louisville. "It helps the body's natural ability to heal itself."
Owner of Acubalance, Damman is a graduate of the University of Michigan and for 12 years has served as deputy clinical director at the Institute of Taoist Education and Acupuncture in Louisville.
Acupuncture tends to health on all levels and helps in make better choices along our life path, he says.
"It's important when deciding treatment to look at the whole person and what's going on in an individual's everyday life. It's not a one-size-fits-all 'cookbook style' treatment," he says. "We look at how you feel, how you sleep, how your digestion works and many other things before we decide how to proceed."
When his friend Alex Rowell, a Loveland chiropractic doctor, turned to Damman for help with his knee, a process called moxibustion seemed to offer the best fix. By burning tiny cones made of the herb moxa (mugwort), and placing them on the specific acupuncture points, circulation is stimulated, the site is warmed and the chi flows smoothly.
Damman says it's a type of acupuncture that works well with people with knee problems. "It's helpful for trauma of any kind -- past injury or people who have had joint replacements and still feel a tightness or discomfort," he says. "Using moxibustion is helpful to relax the tendons. It's very warming and prepares the area for needling."
Damman employs needling during the procedure, which means that the needle is inserted and quickly removed, as opposed to other acupuncture processes that leave the needles in for a period of time before removal.
"It's a longer procedure and there's a lot of smoke, but it's very healing -- a communion with body and spirit," he says.
Damman is quick to note that moxibustion is an aid and not a cure-all. Relief is temporary and it's not going to take the place of a (knee) replacement," he says. "But it can accelerate the healing in addition to physical therapy. It's very cool to see and to feel -- kind of a magical thing, actually."
Rowell, who describes himself as "a typical male in my 50s with bad knees," says his right knee is bothered by running. Because he's run the Bolder Boulder 10K since 2005, he hoped for a boost in that knee's flexibility and strength before this year's Memorial Day run.
"I'm not in a lot of pain, but it's not as flexible as I'd like," he says, noting that Damman's acupuncture treatments have helped loosen up the joint.
The treatment partners well with Rowell's chiropractic beliefs. "Even when you're walking, there's some micro trauma to your body. To run, you have to traumatize it even a little more," he says. In addition to acupuncture, Rowell is treated by his own chiropractor and combines them all with ChiRunning, a program that employs the principles of T'ai Chi in the running process.
"It's all about running with proper form and alignment," Rowell says.
That meshes with Damman's acupuncture, which focuses on the total body.
"A person's gait, how the hip, the neck, are held, the alignment of the back -- it all has an effect," he says. "With acupuncture, we provide a gateway for the physical, mental and emotional sense of well-being."
Acupuncture also can help with stress and depression as well as pain. "Many people come in for a tune-up for a variety of these things," Damman notes. "It's a wonderful way to help them move through life with comfort."
Joyce Davis is a freelance writer who lives in Longmont. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
link to original article
In Kiiko style acupuncture (a Japanese style of acupuncture handed down over generations), it teaches that ofttimes when acupuncture points that you feel should work but do not, there is a blockage in the body that is preventing the healing process.
I have been working on a patient recently who has some unusual medial knee pain. The pain started above the joint and extended a few inches up the leg. I am pretty sure it is not meniscus related but with some testing could not really differentiate between the gracilis or quad tendons in that area. The patient told me that they have using the leg press and leg adductor machines at the gym and that the pain is worse when moving the leg into a sitting-cross-legged position. The patient had first tried to self-treat by using moxa (herbal heat) and herbal patches but with little result. When I first saw this patient her chief complaint was actually back pain, but the knee issue came up and we began to treat them concurrently.
After several visits, the back pain was reduced significantly, but the knee pain was pretty stubborn and the pain reduction was insignificant.
In keeping with Kiiko's teachings, I re-checked the patient's basic constitution and found that the "adrenal" points (trigger points in a sense) were quite sensitive. So far, with several treatments behind us, I am finding that addressing the adrenals (calming the "fight or flight" response) has been thee most effective in reducing the patient's pain. Each visit has ended with the patient unable to replicate the pain. The pain comes back in a few days, but has been less with each visit. Stuff like this is what makes acupuncture so fascinating. Why would this work? It wouldn't surprise me in the least that with our stressful lifestyles, it is inhibiting our natural abilities to heal. A good reminder to find the time to slow down whether it be through qigong, meditation, tai qi, or as simple as taking the time to sit down with a good book.
My patient is still continuing to see me and I am excited to see how we progress in the next few weeks.
I just finished reading a blog post from a very well known endurance athlete, and when I got to the sentence "It turns out there isn't much to do about a broken toe" except RICE. My initial reaction was to feel sadness. Pity? Maybe. But as I sit here, I realize it just shows how much we have lost touch with all the medicine that came before us and how much a large segment of us has yet to re-learn that there are other ways in which we can reduce pain, heal faster, and heal well.
But every time I see comments like this, I get it. I totally get it! It took me 30 years to accidentally stumble upon what we now call *alternative medicine. If you told me before to take a certain herb, poke a needle in me, or do a particular qigong exercise to help heal my injuries, I would have probably politely smiled and said "uh huh" before I just popped some Advil and grabbed some ice from the freezer. That's all I knew and we all know that western medicine is the top of it's class, right? Sadly for me, I learned to look outside only after 12 years of back pain, multiple doctors, and tons of prescriptions for hydrocodone, brought me to the point that I could barely walk and I had stopped going out with friends because it was too hard to sit. It took desperation. And this is what I usually see in my clinic. Chinese Medicine is still a last resort. And yet think of how powerful, truly powerful, medicine would be today if western and alternative worked hand in hand. And yes I mean hand in hand. Western medicine is extremely helpful when it comes to diagnoses (though this is not always necessary, for things like broken bones, it helps), xrays/MRI's, and emergency medicine to name a few. And it has been proven to work very well in cases like cancer and fertility.
Today, because of that desperation and a bit of luck, I discovered how out of touch I was with remedies that have been effective for thousands of years, being mired in a system that only gave me pain medication which never addressed the problem.
The deeper you get into ancient text, the stranger it feels when you realize that the modern medicinal field, through technology, is discovering things today what previous centuries have already established in their medicine systems without all the fancy gizmos. It gets downright weird. For example, it is only recently that modern medicine has started to realize that the fascial planes in our body actually correlate pretty accurately to the channels used in Chinese Medicine along which acupuncture points are found. It brings a modern understanding to why a point in the toe might affect something in the eye. Chinese medicine knew this years ago whereas modern medicine still separates the body parts into "specialties", without considering how something on the opposite side of the body may be related to a problem. Western medicine is just beginning to understand this.
A large part of why I entered into Chinese Medicine after years in the graphics field was to be able to bring this medicine further out into the public. I was shocked to realize that no one at the hospitals had told me that I could try acupuncture or herbs, or even chiropractic. There are so many things a person can do for themselves and you DON'T even need to see me. Try turmeric (a known anti-inflammatory. 500 mg 3 times per day. About a 1/4 tsp). Purchase Wu Yang plasters online or at your local chinese herbal market or store. These patches are for red, inflamed and/or new injuries to circulate blood and "cool" the injury. After the inflammation (touch the injury. Does it feel warmer than usual to you? Compare it to the other side) subsides and the injury still feels tight and sore, try an Espom salt soak to bring more circulation into the area and start softening the ligaments and scar tissue that is probably forming. How do acupuncture needles help? Not only can you reduce the pain, needles also increase circulation of blood and allows the body to target a specific area to increase healing. Depending on the injury, acupuncture can help re-align structural weaknesses that may be causing the injury in the first place. Needles and a proper diagnosis can also help resolve other problems in your body that may be preventing the injury from optimal healing.
What I most want for people who have never tried acupuncture, is only this. Keep it in your back pocket. You might think it's a joke, that it's weird, that it's not for you, that it's scary. But what I hope for you is that it becomes a part of your collective subconscious. So that when you're ready, when you've come to a point with whatever it might be, that you might remember that there is something else out there that might help you or a friend or family member, and to not resign yourselves to the idea of "isn't much to do".
(*though my specialty may be in Chinese Medicine, this does not preclude Ayurvedic or other medicines that has been passed through a myriad of cultures throughout the world. I can't claim to have tried them all, but just like it is ridiculous to think that western medicine is the only healing modality out there, it would be unfair to think that Chinese Medicine is the only thing that works too.)
by: Miki Higuchi L.Ac. on July 19, 2011
If you see an acupuncturist, there is usually a point where they insist "No ice!". But why? Growing up here in California, it is fairly common knowledge that ice is what is used for anything that hurts. We are told that ice reduces inflammation and speeds healing. And let's face it, when it hurts, icy numbness makes it feel better. So, what's the big deal?
I thought I would give you a real-world example of how this can work. But in a nutshell, this is Chinese Medicine's thoughts on the topic first so you know where I'm coming from.
When you create an injury in your body, whether its' a sprained ankle, broken foot, or even a cut on your arm, your body races to repair it. The body is geared to send all it can to that injury to start the recovery process. The body is pretty great that way. Now, what does ice do? Think of ice cubes, icebergs, ice cream! Ice congeals into a hard substance , ice numbs and stops feeling. Ice stops the flow of substances. So, when your body is trying to bring white blood cells, collagen, and other healing substances to an injury, cold blocks it from coming through, thus delaying healing. And something that is admittedly a little harder to grasp is the idea that "cold" can get trapped inside an injury, potentially leading to achey-ness and arthritic symptoms.
So, back to me and my story. I am a chronic ankle sprain-er. It started over 20 years ago with a sprain on the softball field, followed by sprains on the basketball court, stepping off a curb, and then falling down on trails and over and over again. This was also all before I understood the mechanism behind injury and healing. This was also before I learned the virtue of patience.
This was the typical me (and I know I'm not the only one!): I would get an injury, proceed to complain about how awful it was, yearn to get back to my sport, and even though it was not even close to 100%, I would find myself going on multi-mile runs and signing up for races. And within a few months, longer if I was lucky, I was usually flat on my face with another sprain.
And now I suffer the consequences. I have chronically weak ankles. Xrays have showed bone spur growth, I find it difficult to sit "Japanese style", I am forever resigned to wearing ankle support when I run, and worst of all they have started to ache deep inside. This aching really started up over a year ago and it was bearable but really uncomfortable. "Setting" the ankle by a practitioner didn't seem to help too much. And I have to admit, I was a bit lazy with the acupuncture needles. So, what happened? Well, I'm a big fan of socks. They're just cozy ya know? And this past winter, I was holed up a lot studying in cold libraries and sitting around in my cold house. I got into the habit of bundling myself up very well. When I started to pick up the running come February and April of this year, I noticed that my ankles didn't ache anymore. Nothing. At first I thought,"Great! I'm like superwoman or something". Either my body is in complete denial or I healed myself by doing nothing at all! Perfect.
Then the summer weather finally came through. It came a little late this year if you noticed. I started using my AC all the time. Well, guess what, my ankle started aching again. And I didn't put 2 & 2 together right away. It wasn't that simple. I started to apply a warming liniment on my ankle several times a day. (As my injury is very old, very chronic, and very stiff, I knew it needed a warming treatment to get it to loosen up.) Well, on one of those mornings after I applied it to my ankle, and wearing flats with no socks, I hopped into my car to head to work. It was then that I noticed that the AC was blasting right on my ankle. It was more noticeable because of the minty liniment I had just applied. I was stunned that the air was focused so directly on my gas pedal foot. I immediately re-directed the air, even going so far as to wrap that ankle when I drove, continued with the liniments, and took a wait and see attitude.
Well, 3 weeks later, after logging a fair amount of running mileage each week, the aching is gone. I didn't do anything else to treat it. In fact, in the last week or so I have even forgotten to apply the liniment. It totally makes sense, but I can't help but be pretty pleased at the change. I mean, come on, how easy!
So, that's my personal story. I know it's anecdotal, so you can take it or leave it. But it's not only me. I have treated hundreds of patients, and many have said that their recovery took a turn for the better when I told them "No ice!". It's simple. Give it a try.
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