Meridians are one of the most fascinating gifts we got from Traditional Chinese Medicine. And they are much more than abstract energy lines flowing through the body.
Imagine the following situation: you’re returning home from a journey late at night. You’re tired and hungry since what the airlines serve these days as a main course leaves as much to be desired as the leg space in economy class. You throw your bag in a corner, make a beeline for the fridge and take stock. Perhaps you’re lucky and, despite your hasty departure, it not only harbours the expected appearance of the duo Foul & Mould but also a couple of pleasant surprises. Okay, after a week’s absence, the remains of the veg have seen better days, and a few other items seem to have developed a life of their own despite the overdose of preservatives contained in most foods these days. At least the smoked ham looks acceptable. But better be on the safe side and cautiously guide it to your nose. The odour test delivers what the eye had hoped for. The stomach approves the result with a demanding growl. Together with the emergency ration of crackers you come up with a passable midnight snack. Done and dusted.
Eating: a completely normal everyday procedure with a logical order. Looking, smelling, chewing, swallowing, digesting. A completely normal process requiring many parts of the body to cooperate with each other and interact in a well-orchestrated manner: eyes, nose, teeth, tongue, chewing muscles, oesophagus, and stomach: they all form a functional community for the purpose of food intake. But before we even get to the point when we target and devour the desired titbit there has to be a stimulus, a need to be satisfied, initiating the entire process. Be it hunger, the mood for food or the desire to fill the terrible emptiness of a broken heart with calories. Whatever triggers the stimulus, it encourages us to carry out the relevant actions, one after the other.
Leonie Taylor & Charlotte Watts explore how our skin is the first line in communication, both to our internal landscape and the world around us.
The integumentary system (aka the skin)
The integumentary system, otherwise known as our skin, is both a boundary and a contact surface, a sensory organ. Every inch of our skin hosts over 2.5 million bacteria. The make-up of the skin microbiome varies greatly between individuals as well as where on the body it is, influenced by:
Physiology: sex hormones, age and site
Environment: climate and geographical location
Immune system: previous exposures and inflammation
Written to celebrate National Complementary Therapy Week. This was a week long campaign where we celebrated across our Singing Dragon social channels for 5 days. Each day we showcased an area of our publishing to help you familiarise yourself with the range of titles we have.
‘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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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 →