Friday, May 14, 2010

Second Spring; A Poetic Term for Menopause

No woman likes to think of menopause. Some of us even fall into depression when the inescapable happens. When we are hit with hot flashes, insomnia, foggy head, weight gain all at once, depression seams like a normal reaction.
One solution is to fight menopause with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), bio-identical or not. For different reasons, some women cannot tolerate HRT and come to our clinic for help. A great majority of them find relief with a combination of acupuncture and herbs combined with some dietary changes and exercise. I think that a change in perspective may also help. Instead of calling it menopause, I like the Chinese "second spring". It sounds more optimistic; more upbeat.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) women have two spring seasons.
The first spring is the season for growth, and it starts with menstruation at puberty. The first spring carries us  all the way to menopause. Through all the life changing experiences that will transform us into the mature human beings, preparing us for our second spring.
The Chinese author Titian Ni says that the second spring is "the time of renewal of spirit, a time of healing and forgiveness".
In TCM the human life is divided into seven cycles. Each cycle has seven years for women, and eight years for for men.
For women, by the age of seven the first cycle is finished and our teeth, hair and digestive system are developed. At age fourteen the first spring arrives bringing menstruation, development of breasts and the capability to conceive. It is said in TCM that at this time the Kidney Essence ( the root of vitality) flourishes and the body has abundant Blood. At twenty-one our bodies reach maturity, and some Chinese sources consider this the right time to conceive because Kidney Essence is at its peak. Age twenty-eight brings the maturity of emotions in sync with the maturity of the body, and some Chinese sources consider this the best time to conceive. By age thirty-five things slowly start going down hill. At forty-two skin, hair and bones start to change as Kidney Essence continues to decline. When we rich forty-nine the child-bearing years are coming to an end, closing the door of one period in our lives and starting our second spring. I am being nice with my choices of words from the classic Chinese text, which original I have included below.
Second spring in TCM means that the Blood that once flowed out of our bodies now is being used as extra nourishment for our internal organs, including the Heart. The Heart governs the Shen (Mind/Spirit). Well nourished hearts mean wiser minds.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Barefoot is back!

When I was a little girl I remember that when I really wanted to take off, I would kick off my shoes and my feet would grab the ground as I was off. This was especially useful when it counted, running from one of the bigger kids I played soccer with in the street or from a disciplining adult.

As I got older I became indoctrinated into the benefits of shoes and arch supports. I was told to stop running on my toes, and instead run heel to toe. Every activity I did had its own special shoe. I started having problems with my hips and knees and shoulders over the years, all due to "getting older." Acupuncture, massage, and yoga would all fix me for a while, and then I would do something to bring things back.

Recently my daughter had a serious injury that had her trying all kinds of things to fix it. One day she showed up with these weird-looking Vibrams shoes and convinced me to try them. I say shoes loosely as they are no more than toe socks with a rubber sole. Immediately my body started feeling better.

I now wear my Vibrams to work and walk barefoot whenever possible. I have no pain on my feet and my soles are smooth and hydrated. I've had a few women comment that they would never wear those shoes in public, but yesterday I felt vindicated as I read the first page of the Union Tribune Health section. I have heard of people being duped by knockoffs. Beware anything claiming to be 50% off.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Natural Treatment of Rosacea-Part II

Topical Treatments
Soothing facials and LED light therapy twice a week are very effective for bringing down the symptoms of rosacea, while the condition is being addressed internally.

Home Care
At home patients should avoid heat stimuli as much as possible. Exposure to sun or a heat source (such as a cook near a hot stove) can exacerbate rosacea as well as consumption of hot temperature foods and drink. Hot nature foods such as red wine, caffeinated drinks, spicy foods, and cured foods should be limited or avoided.

In terms of topical products, skin care without irritants is crucial. This cannot be emphasized enough. There is a great deal of misinformation in skincare marketing. For example, baby products often contain the most irritating ingredients though they are marketed for the most sensitive skin.
At our clinic we use Hylunia products to treat rosacea. Specifically the combination of Beyond Complex C and Pure Hyularonic Acid Solution brings down the redness and irritation dramatically. Other products are added depending upon the presentation of acne, dry or oily skin, etc.

Results to Expect
What we have found with our patients is that the redness and flushing becomes a tendency rather than a constant condition.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Natural Treatment of Rosacea-Part I

What Is It?
Rosacea (Brandy Nose) is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting primarily the central areas of the face. In advanced cases, the nose can become enlarged and deep red. For this reason rosacea is called "wine dregs nose" in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The skin is characterized by vascular dilation with or without acne in the form of pustules and papules. Typical onset is between 30-50 years of age. Rosacea is three times more common in women than in men, though men tend to get more severe symptoms.

TCM Diagnosis and Treatment
Heat and stagnation are the root of rosacea. Heat in the Stomach and Lung is implicated when rosacea presents with papules, oily skin, thirst, a rapid pulse, and a red tongue with yellow coating. Blood heat tends to manifest as bright red skin lesions with dark capillary vasodilation, constipation, scanty urination, a rapid pulse, and a red tongue with yellow coating. Dark red or purple skin lesions indicate Qi and Blood stagnation, along with dark purple tongue body and a choppy pulse. There may also be other imbalances in the body, which your acupuncturist will be able to diagnose. Treatment includes reguar acupuncture, customized Chinese herbal formulas, and nutritional counseling.