Archive for the ‘Oriental Medicine’ Category

Why Spring Allergies?

Monday, May 2nd, 2016 by Sharon Sherman
springtime allergies

springtime allergies

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and you – are you blowing your nose?

Spring is the time of year for seasonal allergies. As nature starts to bloom and pollen

is released into the air, allergy sufferers begin to get the itchy and watery eyes,

sneezing, runny nose and sinus pressure that makes spring tough to love.

 

You may find yourself asking, why me? What makes me allergic to nature?

 

Most seasonal allergies are triggered by pollen – that fine, yellow, powdery

substance released by trees, flowers, grasses and weeds that you find caked on your

car after a particularly nice day. While some plants rely on insects to transfer pollen,

others rely on the wind for transport.

 

These plants, typically trees, grasses and weeds, release small, light, dry pollen that

can easily be picked up by the wind. That’s why light breezes and grass cutting will

usually stir up the sneezes – more pollen is being kicked up into the air. Because this

kind of pollen is so small and light, it can travel for miles in the air, so ridding an

area of offending plants usually does little good. It will usually make its way inside

your home as well, settling in with dust and sending your allergies into overdrive.

 

When you have allergies, your immune system is mistaking the pollen as a foreign

body and releases antibodies to attack it – usually the same response that your body

would have when being attached by a virus or bacteria. When your immune system

releases antibodies to attack the foreign bodies you’re breathing in, like pollen, it

also releases histamines into the blood causing dilation of capillaries, contraction of

smooth muscle, and stimulation of gastric acid secretion. These histamines trigger

the runny nose, itchy eyes and other allergy symptoms. That’s why it’s easy to

confuse allergies for a cold. You’re body is displaying a similar reaction to how it

would defend against disease.

 

In order to best combat your seasonal allergies, it’s important to understand which

pollens you are allergic to. Allergists can easily test you for various types of trees,

weeds, grasses and plants that may be affecting you. Top spring blooming plants

that cause allergies in the Philadelphia area include oak, birch, and maples. Keeping

an eye on pollen counts can help you get an idea of what plants might be giving you

the most trouble.

The Holidays are Here. Don’t let this be you.

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015 by Sharon Sherman

Holiday stressWith the year winding down, the holiday season has us doing anything but. We’re programmed to spend the next few weeks running around, shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, meeting end of year deadlines at work, planning and attending gatherings – leaving our carefully planned routines behind to celebrate the season with friends and family.

In December it’s already easy to feel sapped of energy and moody from the cold and lack of sunshine, but add to that a long list of to-do’s, dizzying demands, and the personal and social expectation of exuding happiness constantly and it’s easy to see why some of us can crumble under the stress of the holiday season. For many, it is also a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness and anxiety – making a stressful time even more daunting.

This stress, anxiety and depression can cause a disruption in the flow of vital energy, or qi, throughout the body. These energetic imbalances mess with all of your body’s systems, causing symptoms of muscle pain, headaches, upset digestion, sleep disturbances and fatigue, and over time more serious illnesses can develop. Chinese medicine treatment can correct these imbalances and directly affect the way your body manages both your stress and your mental health.

Acupuncture treatments can serve to nurture and replenish energy reserves, enhancing the body’s immune system to thrive in times of stress, aid in healing, prevent illness and increase vitality. When enhanced with the use of Chinese herbs, meditation – along with a healthy diet and exercise – a regimen of Chinese Medicine can be extremely effective in helping to provide overall stress relief and well being this holiday season.

Winter is the season where all living things start to slow down, and if we do our best to do the same, we can find the time to reflect on health, replenish energy and conserve the strength needed to make it through the craziness of the coming weeks and the cold months ahead.

Maintaining a routine of health and wellness at this time of year is key to preserving your sanity, well-being – and won’t leave you crying on Santa’s lap.

 

 

 

With Gratitude on the Eve of Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015 by Sharon Sherman

gratitude

Giving Thanks

On the Eve of Thanksgiving

To my friends: Offering gratitude and appreciation for your unwavering support and guidance.

To my clients: My heartfelt thanks for your steadfast confidence and belief.

To those that visit these pages that I have not personally met: Wishing peace, happiness and a thoughtful Thanksgiving!

Best Regards,
Sharon

The Use of Astragulus in Chinese Herbal Medicine

Thursday, November 12th, 2015 by Sharon Sherman
Ingredient used in Traditional Chinese Medicine contained in a modern glass - Beiqi (Astragalus membranaceus)

Ingredient used in Traditional Chinese Medicine contained in a modern glass – Beiqi (Astragalus membranaceus)

Huang Qi, also known as Astragalus, is a perennial plant that is native to the northern and eastern parts of China, Mongolia and Korea, and is one of the fifty fundamental herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It has been used for thousands of years for its immune boosting properties for protecting the body against disease and stress. With it’s has a sweet taste and a warm properties, it is used for treating the spleen and lung, raising the spleen and stomach qi. This means it is considered a tonic herbs for both the immune system and the digestive systems

The root is the portion used in Chinese herbal medicine. Because of it’s ability to act as an tonic that can help strengthen and regulate the immune system, Huang qi is most commonly administered to treat or prevent the common cold, upper respiratory infections, allergies, and chronic fatigue syndrome. It can also be used to increase the production of blood cells particularly in individuals with chronic degenerative disease or in individuals undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer. The antibacterial and antiviral qualities also help Astragalus to act as a liver protectant, an anti-inflammatory, a diuretic, and vasodilator, so research continues to grow regarding its use in kidney disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Chinese Medicine for Seasonal Allergies

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 by Sharon Sherman

shutterstock_262207715After a long, bitterly cold winter, one of the best things to do is get outside and breathe in the sunshine. The longer days and influx of Vitamin D helps to shake off the wintertime blues. Unfortunately for many Philadelphians, with the warmth of spring come the runny nose, sneezing, wheezing, and itchy, watery eyes brought on by the pollen, weeds, flowers, dust and grass that makes the season so beautiful. Nearly 35 million Americans suffer from the allergy symptoms that lead them to spend millions of dollars on medications to survive the season without looking like their days were spent crying.

So, how can allergy sufferers get outside without pumping up on the chemicals? Acupuncture can be the answer. Known for helping to boost and regulate the immune system, acupuncture has been used for centuries as a safe and effective way to combat the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies are caused by the body’s hypersensitivity to elements in the environment. When treatment is focused on clearing the nasal passages, relieving allergic rhinitis, and strengthening the immune system, the body is able to stand up to the allergens in a more effective way.

Working with a regimine of Chinese herbs and acupuncture can help where traditional medications fall short because treatments are personalized and the person is cared for, not just the symptoms. Because each person brings a unique constellation of strengths and challenges, a personalized combination of treatments is a great way to achieve health and overcome allergies and other illnesses. While herbs do help to treat the immediate symptoms, the body benefits from strengthening of the overall immune system

As warm spring weather approaches, there’s no reason to fear the buds on the trees. A regimen of acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help you to enjoy the season – call for a consult today!

How Pinellia (Ban Xia) is Used in Chinese Herbal Medicine

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by Sharon Sherman

Pinellia Tuber, Ban XiaPinellia, is a Chinese herb from the Araceae family. Pinellia is native to southern China and Japan and commonly referred to as the Green Dragon because of the color and shape of the plant’s flower with its long, tongue-like extension of its spadix. Pinellia’s root is the part of the plant used in Chinese Herbal Medicine. To process the root for medicinal use, it is boiled, salted, soaked, steamed and fried with ginger, alum solution, licorice or lime to eliminate all the toxicity of the raw herb. This now processed root is known in Chinese Herbal Medicine as Ban Xia. It is one of the most important herbs in Chinese medicine to dry dampness and transform cold phlegm. While commonly used as an assistant in formulas to expel phlegm in the lungs, ban xia really takes center stage in transforming cold phlegm conditions in the spleen and digestive tract. Thin cold phlegm in the digestive tract is often the result to chronic insufficiency or hypo-functioning. In our culture, this is commonly attributed to dietary intemperance and overeating, which we’re pretty good at. 

The spicy and warm nature of the root has an affinity for the lung, spleen and stomach channels. Ban Xia’s actions in the body helps to dry dampness, transform cold phlegm, and descend rebellious qi which can cause stomach upset and vomiting, due to excessive bogginess in the digestive system. By drying excessive mucus and providing directionality in the digestive system, Ban xia is pivotal in reducing distension and stuffiness in the chest or abdomen.

Don’t Give in to Holiday Stress: 3 Simple Practices for Beating the Holiday Blues

Friday, December 12th, 2014 by Sharon Sherman
Stress and depression can ruin your holidays

Stress and depression can ruin your holidays

At what point did the holidays’ stop being magical and start being a nerve wracking, demanding, and a hectic collection of weeks of the year? With decorations creeping into stores in October, it seems impossible to escape the end of the year without a being physically, emotionally and spiritually drained.

Why do we do it?

It’s easy to get caught up in the extra activities, expectations and demands that the holiday season brings. There is little or no time to relax and regroup before you’re whisked off to accomplish the next thing on your list. Thinking that you’ll be able to do it all without leaving any time to just be makes the holiday season ripe for stress, irritability, anxiety and depression.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help balance both the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety and help to create the harmony and spaciousness we need to keep calm and to feel stable in a sea of frenzy. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine helps keep the body, mind and spirit supple, flexible and buoyant.  This generally manifests in the body as a sense of ease. If the season has already wreaked havoc on your personal integrity, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can release the physical knots and constriction as well as create a healing, safe and tranquil environment for you to settle in, decompress and recalibrate. This creates a potent foundation to build a healthier and more resourceful self (and sounds like a great New Year’s resolution!).

Incorporating a mindfulness meditation practice into your routine, especially during the holidays, is a very powerful tool to living informed and fully. Being mindful is the purposeful practice of making choices based on being in the moment, checking in and making decisions by being fully present rather than responding in a habituated way to events, people and situations. We can summon and reflect circumstances, feelings and choices rather than being enslaved to our automated and predictable reactions.

Even a few quiet, deep breaths practiced throughout the day will help you slow down the inertia of the holiday season and allow you to proactively and intentionally take your holidays back. It will give you a chance to remember what’s really important and what holiday celebrations are for.

Acupuncture, Chinese medicine and mindful meditation can definitely help to lead you to a more tranquil and meaningful holiday season – but don’t forget to acknowledge and feel gratitude. Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation and thankfulness for blessings or benefits we have received. As we cultivate a grateful attitude, we are more likely to be happy and resilient.

While controlling how our bodies react to stress is difficult, choosing healthy strategies and approaches can be a much more attainable and kind way to embrace “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

The Use of Eucommia Bark (Du Zhong) in Chinese Medicine

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 by Sharon Sherman

duzhongEucommia bark comes from the eucommia tree, or hardy rubber tree, that originates in the Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou and Hubei provinces of Central China. It is grown as an ornamental and shade tree that can reach heights up to 60 feet in temperate climates. To obtain the bark of the tree, small patches are peeled away from mature trees in the late summer and early autumn. This allows cultivation of Du Zhong without harming the tree. Wild eucommia trees are rare and are protected; most of the trees used for medicinal purposes are cultivated. The inner bark that is revealed contains a white, rubbery liquid that accounts for eucommia’s healing properties. While this elastomeric sap contains many benefits, it is noted that people with latex allergies may also be allergic to du zhong.

In Chinese Herbal Medicine, Eucommia is considered spicy and sweet; its thermal property in the body is warming. Du Zhong has an affinity for the liver and kidney channels. This affinity lends itself to strengthening muscles and bones and to treat arthritic pain in the lower back and knees. Du Zhong does this by promoting circulation. Du Zhong’s ability to aid in regulating the flow of the qi and blood also proves helpful in lowering high blood pressure. Eucommia is also known as a stabilizer in pregnant women. Eucommia can also be used in a charred form to help calm a “restless fetus” and prevent miscarriage.

Gardenia: Chinese Herbal Medicine and Zhi Zi

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 by Sharon Sherman

Chinese Herbal MedicineGardenia is a popular ornamental shrub that is a genus of flowering plants in the coffee family, Rubiaceae, native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and southern Asia and is found in warm climates worldwide. Best known for their fragrant white flowers and deep, glossy green leaves, Traditional Chinese Medicine uses the orange, berry-like fruits, better known as Zhi Zi or Cape Jasmine fruit, in many herbal preparations. These berries are harvested in autumn and winter, and used either raw or after being fried and parched and made into a tea or soup for consumption.

According to Chinese herbal medicine, Gardenia possesses a bitter taste and thermally is cold in the body. Zhi Zi enters the Heart, Lung, Stomach and San Jiao Channels. Due to its affinity for multiple channels, it is one of the safer herbs in Chinese medicine for eliminating pathogenic heat in the body through urination. Heat in the body can present as irritability, sores in the mouth, or jaundice. Zhi zi also can act directly on the blood to help cool the blood to stop hemorrhaging. Zhi Zi also facilitates faster healing of traumatic injury by circulating stagnant blood.

In Western Medical terms, Gardenia is recognized to help to lower blood pressure and is effective in treating certain presentations of insomnia and delirium. Zhi Zi has also been shown as an effective agent in urinary tract infections. It is also considered a mild antiseptic and can help to reduce swelling and alleviate pain associated with sprains and abscesses when applied topically.

Zhu Dan-Xi and the Yin Nourishing School in Chinese Medicine

Friday, August 8th, 2014 by Sharon Sherman

zhu dan xi The fourth master of Chinese Medicine, Zhu Dan-Xi, had the opportunity to study and adapt his teachings based on the other three masters’ schools of thought – bringing together the Four Great Masters’ of Chinese Medicine.  

Zhu believed that people suffered from chronic disease as a result of overindulgence in pleasurable things and activities, resulting in weakness of the yin essence. His treatments recommended temperance and use of tonic formulas, especially those that nourished the kidney and liver. He systematized his findings into four categories. He believed that all diseases were rooted in pathology due to qi, blood, phlegm or constrained emotions.

Zhu Dan-Xi (1281-1358 c.e.), from Zhejiang Province, was a descendent of Zhu Xi. Zhu Xi was a historically prominent scholar of Confucianism and was pivotal in the neo-Confucianist movement. Zhu Dan-Xi also displayed a keen mind for understanding classical theory and immersed himself deeply in the study of Confucianism.

It was said that he was a very diligent student with a fondness for memorizing the Classics. He was originally planning on a career in government and was ready to sit for the examinations, but was led to study medicine when his mother and teacher both became severely ill. After determining his path to study medicine, he sought a teacher. He was a quick study and became a noted physician in a short period of time. He was also well versed on the works and methods of the previous Masters of the Jin-Yuan medical reform movement and developed an accomplished understanding of the Neijing.

Zhu Dan-Xi came to his own conclusions about the origin of diseases. He believed that a very large component in the stagnations leading to the four categories was based in an unchecked fire in the body known as “ministerial fire.” While this heat serves to warm and animate our being in health, it can also turn inward and lead to a pathological state fueled by excessive unfulfilled desires. This longing leads to heat and friction in the body that consumes our flexibility and fluidity leading to loss of kidney yin.

His philosophies became known as the Yin Nourishing School. As the name implies, Zhu Dan-Xi placed the emphasis in treatment on the preservation and maintenance of kidney yin.

He placed emphasis on the importance of the conservation of kidney yin and essence through self-care techniques. This allows vital substances to be preserved and not squandered indiscriminately, including adapting to seasonal variations in personal endeavors, hygiene and diet.

Zhu Dan Xi was also a member of the Tai Ping Imperial Academy. As a member of this prestigious consortium he was able to elucidate his theories into a number of herbal teaching formulas. Representations of Zhu Dan-Xi’s teaching formulas included Da Bu Yin Wan (Major Yin Nourishing Pill), which contains rehmannia (shu di huang), phellodendron (huang bai), anemarrhena (zhi mu), and tortoise shell (gui ban). The first three ingredients would later become the central ingredients of the most widely used formula for yin deficiency with damp heat in the lower burner, Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan. This is the “Rehmannia Six” formula with the added ingredients of anemarrhena (zhi mu) and phellodendron (huang bai).

Zhu Dan Xi was strongly influenced by Li Dong-Yuan’s teachings and while his thrust was on yin nourishing therapies, he considered  Yuan’s emphasis on homeostatic balance of the spleen and stomach integral in the replenishment of yin and fluids. He created the formula Bo He Wan (Citrus and Crataegus Formula, or Preserve Harmony Formula) to satisfy all the criteria in removing any and all impediment in the humors. This formula is in total alignment with his model of the four causes of disease.

Zhu Dan Xi wrote several books and some of his most important teachings were gathered and published as Dan Xi Zhi Fa Xin Yao (The Essential Methods of Dan Xi), which has been translated into English.

Zhu Dan Xi brought closure to the time of the Four Great Masters of Chinese Medicine. The contributions of Zhu Dan-Xi, Li Dong-Yuan, Zhang Zi-He and Li Wan-Su to Chinese medicine are comprehensive and vast. Their significance is timeless. They are teachings that shed light on what Man needs to thrive. Their collective wisdom is also a very clear commentary on what nourishes and what hampers our personal health and vitality. These teachings’ adaptability and applicability are an invaluable contribution to the cause of disease and strategies of healing.