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Sinus Health & Chinese Medicine

Sinuses are a network of hollow cavities in the head that are lined with a thin layer of mucous. There are four of them- the frontal (behind the forehead), the ethmoid and sphenoid (between the eyes and behind the nose), and the maxillary sinuses (behind the cheeks). They moisten and filter the air we breathe and they add to vocal resonance. Their mucous drains into the nose. (more…)

The Risks of Self-Medicating

A few months ago, I received samples of an herbal supplement called kratom in the mail. Apparently, the company was hoping I would carry their product in my office and sell it to patients for pain-related conditions. I had never heard of this herbal remedy and I contacted the company and requested literature and research about it on two separate occasions. They never sent me anything, so when I did my homework, I learned that kratom interacts with the brain’s opioid receptors, is not approved by the FDA, and is quite controversial because of its potentially addictive qualities and other side effects (including nausea, itching, constipation, seizures, hallucinations and so on). Without even passing judgment on the herb itself, the fact that this company targets practitioners like me and expects us to dispense it without any background information is absurd, irresponsible, and completely unethical. It violates the established methodology of clinical trials and centuries of empirical research through which all accepted supplements and medications are investigated and approved. This reckless marketing approach made me think about how alluring the promise of a cure can be to suffering patients or gullible practitioners who desperately want to find a solution. (more…)

Balance and Your Diet

Chinese medicine theory strongly emphasizes balance and moderation in all things, including diet. Diet therapy is advocated in this tradition and is widely practiced culturally in China. A balance of flavors, eating regularly (not skipping meals or overeating), sitting and chewing food thoroughly, and eating seasonally and locally are all recommended practices (as well as proper hygiene with meal preparation). Food is divided into 5 basic categories of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and pungent and these flavors resonate with specific internal organs, respectively: Spleen, Kidney, Liver, Heart, and Lung. Food is further divided into yin and yang and hot, warm, neutral, cool and cold energies. Some foods may also affect the movement and direction of qi within the body. Consuming too much of any of these flavors or properties may compromise the linked organ, especially the Spleen and Stomach. The Spleen and Stomach are most involved in digestion because they transform the food into qi and blood for the rest of the body to utilize and help transport and transmit nutrients. Over-indulging a sweet tooth may cause the Spleen to become sluggish and lead to an imbalance called “dampness” which might affect other organs negatively. Symptoms of this situation can vary but may include poor appetite, diarrhea, distension, edema, weight gain, fatigue- and eventually lead to more chronic systemic symptoms. Specific dietary changes have therapeutic potential. For example, a person with a congested liver should consume more sour foods (such as lemons, plums, vinegar) and avoid greasy foods and alcohol to help their liver heal. Many of the dietary prescriptions for illnesses corroborate with what we know from western medicine and the nutritional value of various foods. (more…)