Does yoga help reduce inflammaging?

From environmental pathogens to modern diet, our cells are inflammaging – aging through increased inflammation. How can yoga help?

By Leonie Taylor and Charlotte Watts, co-authors of Yoga & Somatics for Immune & Respiratory Health

‘Inflammaging’, a term coined by Italian researcher Claudio Franceschi in 2000, refers to the low-grade chronic inflammation that often characterises the ageing process. This may partially explain why some older people suffer more from diseases such as COVID-19. Beyond this pandemic, many refer to the creeping symptoms related to inflammation – such as joint pain, loss of mobility or issues related to immune and respiratory health – as an inevitable sign of ageing1.

Continue reading

Boosting sperm quality with integrative Chinese Medicine-finding ways out of ´Spermageddon´

Dr. Pojer is president of the OGKA (Austrian Society for Controlled Acupuncture and TCM) and an academic at the Medical University of Graz (Austria). She has written a post based on the topic of her new book Integrative Treatment of Male Infertility with Chinese Medicine.

On average one out of six European couples experience sub/infertility. Looking at the reasons for unfulfilled parenthood, approximately 50 percent are due to female pathology and 50 percent are due to male issues. However, society as well as medicine (both Western and Eastern approaches) tends to focus on treating the female side of childless couples. Since the percentage of male factor infertility is the same as that for female infertility, treatment of the male partner is underrepresented. The overall sperm quality has dropped by 50% within the last 40 years but additionally, the COVID pandemic has aggravated the problem. On top of this, the male factor plays an important role in early pregnancy loss and should be treated to prevent miscarriage.

Continue reading

The five types of child and teen anxiety and depression

My first book, Acupuncture for Babies, Children and Teenagers, has a chapter on anxiety and depression which is purely for acupuncturists to guide them in treating it in the clinic.  I realised over the years, however, that there is so much that is helpful in the way that Chinese Medicine understands people which can be applied outside of the clinic.  This wisdom can be used by parents, at home, to make changes which will support their child’s mental-emotional health.  That is why I chose to write a second book, for parents and practitioners. 

One of the many tools we have to support young people whose mental health is struggling, is our ability to make a ‘bespoke’ diagnosis of exactly the nature of each person’s distress.  ‘Anxiety’ and ‘Depression’ are necessary but limiting labels that are used to describe a multitude of different feeling states.  Using the Five Element model, we can begin to understand that one child’s anxiety is very different from the next, and that each child’s depression will have a unique flavour to it. 

Let’s take a look at each Element to illustrate this.

Continue reading

How Theory Becomes Practice

By Dolma Johanison, D.Ac., L.Ac.

The Eight Extraordinary Vessels theory has been in existence for thousands of years, and many practitioners of Eastern medicine find themselves intrigued by these “mysterious vessels.” Over the years, many practitioners have indicated it is too dangerous to deeply explore the eight extraordinary vessels, while others believe quite differently. Li Shi Zhen of the 16th century had the viewpoint that not employing the eight extraordinary vessel theory with patients is a disservice to them. Following this guidance, I was profoundly inspired to deepen my study of these vessels and the works of Li Shi Zhen. During the course of my study and employment of the theory in my clinical practice, I discovered there is limited information on how best to proceed as a beginner practitioner regarding the eight extraordinary vessels. This discovery motivated me to write a book for the practitioner interested in knowing more about the eight extraordinary vessels and putting that knowledge into practice for the benefit of their patients.

“Early practitioners and philosophers were not afraid to use these vessels. Li encouraged all of his students as herbalists and acupuncturists to honor and practice the highest level of medicine by incorporating these vessels into their treatments.  In this way, he believed practitioners could serve the highest purpose.” (pg.13)

Continue reading

Sabine Schmitz on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and skin diseases

Practical and useful advice for the clinical management of patients with acne

Some of you may already know my first book Treating Psoriasis with Chinese Herbal Medicine. I am very excited to introduce my new book, which has been just released, which is called Treating Acne and Rosacea with Chinese Herbal Medicine. It is the second book in my series on dermatological diseases and zooms in on another of the most common skin conditions of today: Acne. The book covers prescriptions and treatment options with Chinese herbs for all types of acne and TCM syndromes. In addition to this, and for better understanding and assisting in your practice, a separate chapter on acne rosacea is included.

As crucial as Chinese herbal medicine is in the treatment of acne is, I always say – never let a patient go home without giving suitable dietary advice. As well as a good diet can improve the skin, an improper diet can worsen the skin. You and I know this from our daily practice. With the following information, I would like to give you an insight into how general diet rules work best and which ones you can give to your patients with acne.

Continue reading

Denise Tiran on Using Natural Remedies in Pregnancy and Childbirth

Denise Tiran HonDUniv FRCM MSc is an internationally renowned authority on maternity complementary medicine, having pioneered the subject as a midwifery specialism since the early 1980s. She is Chief Executive Officer and Education Director for Expectancy, an independent education company providing complementary therapies courses for midwives, doulas and other maternity workers. Denise was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Greenwich in October 2020 and a Fellowship of the Royal College of Midwives in 2018 in recognition of her work in this field.

Here, she introduces her new book, Using Natural Remedies Safely in Pregnancy and Childbirth: A Reference Guide for Maternity and Healthcare Professionals.

I’ve been publishing on maternity complementary therapies for many years but the huge increase in popularity of natural remedies, including aromatherapy oils, herbs and homeopathic remedies led me to write this latest book. Expectant parents frequently ask midwives, doctors, doulas and antenatal teachers about the use of remedies such as raspberry leaf tea, and for remedies such as castor oil and evening primrose to start labour. The massive rise in popularity of aromatherapy in pregnancy and birth also means that parents often ask about essential oils, or want to bring them into the birth centre for use in labour. This can sometimes put the midwife or doctor in a difficult position because they may know very little about the oils and which are safe or not. Continue reading

Hypermobile People and Yoga – An Extract from Jess Glenny

Jess Glenny is a Yoga Register Teacher (Elder) and a C-IAYT yoga therapist. She has been practising yoga with hEDS since 1981, and for many years has specialised in working with hypermobile people. She is the author of The Yoga Teacher Mentor: A Reflective Guide to Holding Spaces, Maintaining Boundaries, and Creating Inclusive Classes (published in 2020) and her new book, Hypermobility on the Yoga Mat: A Guide to Hypermobility-Aware Yoga Teaching and Practice is available for pre-order now, publishing in February 2021.

In this article, adapted from her new book, Jess discusses why hypermobile people might be drawn towards the practice of yoga.

Yoga teacher Amber Wilds writes:

During my teacher training I was told, you probably won’t see hypermobility in your yoga classes very often, but it became apparent over the duration of our training that many of my fellow students were hypermobile (to varying degrees). While some had been diagnosed, others hadn’t been aware of their hypermobility prior to our training. I therefore began to question whether, rather than being a rarity in a yoga class, hypermobility was actually far more common than initially thought.[i]

Indeed, as we have seen, hypermobile people are one population you are pretty much guaranteed to encounter in significant numbers in any yoga class you teach. Why is this? Why do people whose range of joint motion is so excessive as to be considered pathological flock to an activity with the potential to increase it further? There are a number of reasons. Continue reading

Acupuncture Without Needles?

I have spent a lot of time developing my technique with an acupuncture needle. First as a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and then as a teacher of needle technique, and now as the author of The Living Needle, a book on the subject. I have a lot of friends who aren’t acupuncturists that ask me if there is anything in all that work for them, other than just getting treatments from me. The answer is a resounding yes! While the needle is certainly the most well-known tool of the TCM practitioner and a very useful one as well, it is not the most important thing at my disposal, or even completely necessary to my trade.

As I discuss in The Living Needle, what is most important is that the body is engaged, and not simply engaged in a passive way, but really meaningfully engaged. This can be accomplished with or without a needle. While it is wonderful to be able to make direct contact with the deeper tissues, the fact that is so often forgotten by providers and patients alike is that all the body’s tissues are interconnected into one vast network. This means that contact with any tissue will necessarily affect all the others. Because of this, as any good massage therapist knows fingers can be just as powerful as needles. This reality is perfectly clear not only in massage, but in trigger point therapy and any number of other manual techniques using nothing more than a finger or an external tool to create pressure.

Am I suggesting that you don’t need to see an acupuncturist? Not necessarily because there is a wealth of diagnostic and other skills we bring to the table, I’m just suggesting you might not be stuck waiting on your appointment to start seeing benefits. You don’t even have to go to a massage or physical therapist to start reaping some rewards (though in a lot of cases you should go see them too). What I’m suggesting more than anything, is that your health and well-being are your business first and there are some simple tools and tricks close to hand that you can start using right now!

All around your house are implements that you can bring to bear on your aches, pains, and even internal medicine issues; from the handle of a spoon, to a toothpick, or a rolling pin, almost anything can be used to apply targeted pressure to the body. And of course you always have fingers. Here are a couple specific things that you can try.

  • Digestive Rolling: Get a round implement, a dough roller, stiff cardboard tube, or even the side of a pencil. Find the front edge of your shin bone just under your knee. Place the tool just below the knee and about half an inch outside the edge of your shin bone. It shouldn’t be pressing on the bone, but it should be pretty close. From here, with strong pressure (it shouldn’t be painful, but you should know you’re doing it) roll whatever you’re using down the front of your leg to your ankle. Come back to the start and do it again. Roll down nine times and then do the other leg. This area of the body has a strong effect on the digestion and rolling it like this will bolster stomach function and up-regulate peristalsis. This is a big deal, because with the chronic stress most of us live under our digestive system is underfunctioning most of the time, and chronic underfunction in the digestive system can lead to all sorts of long term illnesses!
  • Morning Wake-Up Call: Get that same item you used to roll your shin and put it on the floor. You’re going to sit down and put your foot on it so that the inside edge of your foot, just behind your big toe is pressing against it. Put some pressure on it and roll it back and forth from just behind the big toe to the heel, keeping the pressure focused mostly on the inside edge of the foot. This will again stimulate digestive function, but will also help with adrenal function and cortisol, which can help you feel brighter eyed on those draggy mornings!
  • Stress Buster: Feeling stressed? Especially that kind of stress where it feels like someone is squeezing the middle of your chest and refuses to let go? Grab the handle of a spoon or a toothpick if you like a little bit of a sharper sensation, or even just use your finger if you don’t have anything else close to hand. On the underside of your wrist, find the two tendons that run down from your hand. About an inch and a half below the crease of your wrist you’ll find a little tender spot between those two tendons. Press and hold there, making little counter-clockwise circles. On the top of your foot, between the bones behind the big and second toe, slide back toward the top of your foot until you feel where those bones almost meet and then move back toward your toes just a little. You should find another tender spot there where you can repeat the same procedure. While you’re rubbing either of these spots try to slow your breathing down and take nice long breaths. Within a minute or two you should feel a lot better!

The most important thing to remember with any of this is that the real treatment, the fundamental improvement isn’t about the tool that you use, it’s about the meaningful engagement with the body. Most of us live a life where we are largely separated from our bodies as far as awareness goes. The adage I often share with students and patients alike is that most of us don’t know we have feet until we stub our toe. So while you’re doing any of these practices, really get involved. Don’t simply poke away at the body while you make a mental grocery list of other things you have to do. Be aware of the sensations you feel under your fingers and in your tissues. After all, it’s your body, you might as well get to know it!

This more than anything is the real art to medicine, the ability to actively connect with a body and respond to it in the moment. This is also where real health lives. If you want to learn more about engaging the body feel free to pick up The Living Needle: Modern Acupuncture Technique.

 

Justin Phillips, LAc teaches needle technique and advanced needle technique at AOMA. He also runs a private acupuncture practice in Texas. His new book, The Living Needle: Modern Acupuncture Technique explains the fundamental principles of the art of needle technique for acupuncturists.