Posts Tagged ‘Chinese Medicine’

Chinese Medicine’s Zhang Zi-He and The School of Attacking and Purging

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

zhang Zi-heLike modern practitioners, the great masters of Chinese medicine learned from and were influenced by each other’s work. They were not only coming up with original conclusions but were building and refining the work of previous practitioners to form expanded ideas.

Zhang Zi-He, also known as Zhang Cong Zheng, was a military physician who lived from 1156-1228 of the common era. He shared Liu Wan-Su’s belief that medicine needed to be tailored to patients and that medicines and strategies of the Han Dynasty canon were ill equipped to combat present-day illness. After serving in the military, he left to return to his home town in Henan Province to work as a doctor.

His best known theories incorporated some of Liu Wan-Su’s most important contributions to the Chinese Medical canon and are known as the “Gong Xia Pai,” or “The School of Attacking and Purging.” Specifically, Zi-He’s theory of the “Six Doors and Three Methods” referred directly to climatic influences (wind, summer heat, dampness, fire, dryness and cold) that Liu Wan-Su observed. The three methods refer to Zhang’s favored therapeutic regimens: sweating, vomiting and purging. These were not new strategies; Zhang Zhong-Jing, one of the most eminent Chinese physicians during the later years of the Han Dynasty, recorded the use of these approaches in the most studied book of Chinese medicine, the Shang Han Lun. The practice of diaphoresis, emesis and purgation are also documented by Sun Si-Miao, the patriarch and innovator of Tang Dynasty Chinese medicine.

Zhang Zi-He’s treatment strategies are very telling of his seasoned military strategist background. He believed that both life and disease should be treated like battle. Similar to a small fortress, you want to keep the external terrain strong so that disease cannot enter. In Chinese medicine this is the concept of strong Wei Qi. When our interface is strong, pathogens cannot penetrate.

Zhang was a neoconfucianist and a firm believer that pernicious influences entered the body from the heavens, the earth and through man’s actions. The evils of the heavens included the climate—wind, cold, heat, dryness and fire. Insults from the earth came as damp influences that included fog, dew, rain, hail, ice and mud. Man’s abuses centered on dietary intemperance and vices such as lack of discipline. He believed that these insults were responsible for causing disease and in order to effectively cure an ailment, the responsible influence needed to be eradicated – thus the induction of sweating, vomiting and purging.

He believed if you have problems in your life, you need to take charge to destroy the negative influence. Sweating eliminated the harmful evils on the body’s surface. Zhang Zi-He listed approximately forty herbs, many which are still used today such as Schizonepeta known as Jing Jie and Angelica Dahurica Bai Zhi. In addition to herbs, he advocated the use of hygienic practices that included moxabustion, acupuncture, massage, steaming, washing and exercising.

The category of emesis (induced vomiting) was prescribed for digestive illness in the upper gastric abdominal regions with therapies that in addition to vomiting increased salivation, lacrimation and sneezing. The most popular Chinese herbal emetics he recommended were Dichroa Root, also known as Chang Shan, and stalk of Cucumis Melo, known as Gua Di. His use of acupuncture included the activation of points which would mirror his herbal strategies. He used the upward ascension of the spleen to encourage vomiting. An acupuncture point like Spleen 8 “Di Ji,” which translates to mean “Earth Pivot,” was chosen because it could be activated to encourage vomiting. He believed that employing this strategy would quickly release an evil and restore health by purifying the patient.

He also used other acupuncture channels and points to encourage peristalsis through the bowels. Purging methods (laxative effect) treated climatic and emotional evils that when lodged in the chest or abdomen cause intense discomfort. This phenomenon is known in Chinese medicine as heat clumping. By breaking down and pushing the obstruction down and out, the pain is eliminated and healthy function is restored. Of the many purgatives he employed, several are still popular in the TCM Materia Medica such as Rhubarb, known as the Chinese herb Da Huang and the herb Croton Ba Dou.

Zhang Zi-He was a student of Liu Wan-Su’s Cooling School philosophical doctrine and expanded the use of sweating, purgation and vomiting to include more symptoms and clinical scenarios. Zhang Zi-He believed that there are a myriad of influences that can cause disease. He understood that to move difficult obstructions and obstacles in the body, one needed to initiate a treatment strategy of equal force and measure. He believed these treatment strategies to be hygienic and their use encouraged the refinement of the body, mind and spirit.

Liu Wan-Su and the Cooling School in Chinese Medicine

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
one of the four great masters of chinese medicine

one of the four great masters of chinese medicine

So, we’ve established that the practice of Chinese medicine has a long and dynamic history—that’s why it’s still around and used actively today. Why and how Chinese medicine has such longevity has a lot to do with when and who brought about innovation and change. We’ve recognized that the when was during the Jin-Yuan period in 13th and 14th century China and the who—the Four Masters of Chinese medicine that lived and worked during this time. But who were they, what did they do and why were they so important?

Amongst the great political unrest of the Mongol Dynasty in the 13th century, where over nine rulers came to power in a short period of time, Chinese medicine improved. The Mongol rulers imposed restrictions on medical practices and began banning certain therapeutics. These changes instigated practitioners to innovate and find new methods. Seeking this progress in medicine was a personal mission for one of the Four Masters, Liu Wan-Su, who lived from 1120-1200. Liu Wan-Su, it is said, decided to immerse himself in medicine when his mother fell ill and later died after multiple failed attempts to secure treatment for her due to his family’s impoverished status.

Liu Wan-Su was a Neo-Confucianist– meaning he was influenced by the both the teachings of Daoism and Buddhism. His Daoist name was Xuan Tong, which translates to “Penetrate Mystery,” was very fitting given his zeal to deeply understand and demystify Chinese medicine. His commentaries and interest were primarily in discovering deeper meaning of the Nei Jing’s Su Wen. The Nei Jing is also commonly known as the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon. It is a Chinese medical text that has been treated as one of the fundamental doctrinal sources for Chinese medicine for more than two thousand years. The work is composed of two texts each containing eighty-one chapters in a question-and-answer format between the mythical Huangdi (Yellow Emperor) and a physician Qi-Bo.

The first of the two texts, the Su Wen (also known as Basic Questions) covers the theory and philosophical constructs of Chinese medicine in relation to causation, diagnosis and treatment of disease. Liu Wan-Su was trying to find and decipher the hidden messages in its teachings. Eventually, Liu Wan-Su developed his own style based on his rigorous studies. This has become known as “The Cooling School.”

His treatment strategies are based on the Five Elements and the Six Influences. Meaning, his system is based on how the predominate climatic factors of each season tend to generate certain types of pathogens that flourish during that particular time of the year. His focus was based on the belief that all pathogens whether they originally were caused by wind, dampness, summer heat, fire, dryness or cold would turn into heat when trapped inside the body. So his herbal focus was geared toward the eradication of hot and feverish, febrile diseases.

The Cooling School utilized cool and cold natured herbs in addition to spicy and sweet herbs to comprise most of his heat reducing formulas. Many of his formulas also included the use of talc, known in pin yin as hua shi. Hua shi is useful in promoting urination. This works as a strategy in removing excessive heat from the body by increasing urinary output. His most popular Chinese herbal formulas include Liu Yi San (Six to One Powder), Yi Yuan San (Powder to Benefit Vitality), Bi Yu San, and Gui Ling Gan Lu Yin (Cinnamon, Hoelen, and Licorice Combination)

While keeping the idea of the pathogenic fire in mind, Liu Wan-Su tailored his treatments – so if a weaker patient couldn’t handle a strong heat clearing medicinals, the herbs were modified carefully to ensure good results.

He believed that acupuncture should be gentle with very shallow needling. He emphasized using jing-well points which are acupuncture points located near the nail bed on both the fingers and toes. Liu Wan-Su’s use of jing-well points facilitated multiple strategies to include opening the sensory portals on the head, resuscitation of the yang, expulsion of pathogenic wind, and the removal of irritability and unsteadiness.

Liu Wan-Su was also a great proponent of self-cultivation. Through his teachings, he encouraged patents to seek personal enlightenment, enrichment and education to help lift one’s self but also to benefit society as a whole. He believed that in order to help a person to see the world differently and to be able to act differently was the manifestation and discipline of a steadfast practice.

Witness and observe to become a sage.

Be in a place of looking out while also looking inward.

Liu Wan-Su’s teachings still influence the way modern practitioners diagnose and treat disease. Although many modern diseases present as chronic and very complex, Li Wan-Su’s basic tenants around lifestyle counseling seem tailored to a modern hectic existence. His philosophy included an approach that centered on slowing down to appreciate the things around you, to open yourself to seeing things differently and to empower people to change themselves in order to change and eliminate disease. Sounds like sensible medical advice to me!

The Four Masters of Chinese Medicine: Architects of Change

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

4 great mastersIn the mad world of newer-better-faster-stronger, it’s important to take a minute and remember that all of the advances that we have—from iPhones and micro-computers to laser treatments and super drugs—evolved from earlier innovation. The foundations of modern medicine are no exception.  Often the basics that new techniques are built upon trace back to systems laid out centuries ago and are still formidable in shaping new ideas and thoughts on disease treatment and prevention. Chinese medicine is arguably the oldest, continually practiced form of medicine in the world. There definitely is a reason these strategies have survived the test of time.

It’s become a pretty common practice to spend time on the internet diagnosing ourselves and thinking about treatment options. As more practitioners and patients move towards collaborative medicine and incorporate Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) into Western treatment plans, it’s not a bad idea to have a better understanding about the theories developed, the physiology around why it works, and the historical context that shaped the paradigm shift. Exploring the important contributions made by masters of Chinese medicine helps provide a better understanding of how medicine has evolved to where it is today. Never a bad thing to know where and why things started.

So, what and who shaped Traditional Chinese Medicine? Much and rightful attention is paid to the Han Dynasty (220 B.C. to 220 A.D.). The masters of Chinese medicine of this era included Hua T’o and Zhang Zhong Jing. This is when the most famous texts of Chinese medicine were published; these seminal texts include the Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders) and the Jin Gui Yao Lue (Essential Prescription from the Golden Cabinet). Chinese medical knowledge during the Han dynasty is expansive. Hua T’o is credited for self cultivation practices known as daoyin exercises as well as surgical and anesthesia protocols. Zhang Zhong Jing is recognized for the development of the Six Stages Theory. This theory is a model for the diagnosis and treatment of disease based on the progression of pathogens once they enter the body. This becomes a foundation for the practice of herbal internal medicine.

The historical time known as the Jin-Yuan period will be the focus of our of next four blog articles. The Jin-Yuan period covers the 13th and 14th centuries and is a catalyst for the development of great innovation in Chinese medicine.

From the Jin-Yuan era came the development of four distinct schools of thought, created by men who came to be known as the Four Great Masters of Chinese Medicine – Li Wan Su, Zhang Zi He, Li Dong Yuan, and Zhu Dan Xi. Their mastery of Chinese medicine coupled with their personal circumstances during the times they lived helped shape four distinct philosophies in the causation, prevention and elimination of disease. Their critiques of the classical canons and doctrine create new developments and ways of thinking thus expanding the medicine for more modern times and conditions. Their novel new approaches helped usher in a renaissance in Chinese medicine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Back into the Swing After Summer…

Monday, October 7th, 2013
seasonal acupuncture for wellness

Finding wellness and balance with acupuncture and Chinese medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine to Reduce your Stress and Find your Rhythm

Those long, lazy days of summer are waning and crisper fall days are just around the corner. For many of us – parents, students, professionals – this means a return to our “normal” schedules of school, work and daily routines. This can also mean a return to stress and anxiety. So, how can you keep the relaxed vibe of the summer going into the fall?

Many of my patients make the conscious choice to really focus on reducing their stress this time of year. They try to be mindful of the anxiety that back-to-school and back-from-vacation can bring and they carve out time to rest, exercise and use Traditional Chinese Medicine to help.

For example, a recent Georgetown University study showed that acupuncture can help reduce the levels of proteins associated with chronic stress in rats and shed light on exactly how acupuncture works to reduce stress.

There are also numerous herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to promote balance and reduce stress:

  • Chrysanthemum tea – this has been used for 1000s of years in Chinese medicine as a daily soothing tea; it also helps maintain a healthy liver.
  • Suan Zao Ren (Sour Jujube seeds) – in TCM, these seeds are used to reduce irritability, stress and to help treat insomnia.
  • Xiao Yao Wan – is a very popular Chinese herbal formula, Xiao Yao Wan promotes free flow, smooth emotions and overall balance.

There are other ways to help reduce your stress this time of year that are also key to the tenets of TCM and in promoting body balance:

Get outside – even if it’s just for a short walk after dinner, getting out into nature can revitalize your mind and body and help de-stress after a long day in the office, classroom or car.

Sleep – your body can’t function at its best without proper rest; make sure to get your 8 hours!

Appreciation and Gratitude – while this may be a busy time of year, it’s always a good time to take a moment to appreciate what you have, be mindful about your health and be cognizant of your loved ones and family.

 

Enjoy the fall!

Cancer: Can We Prevent or Pre-Empt It? If Yes, How?

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

On a daily basis, you may not think about your chances of getting cancer – and that’s probably a good thing for your mood. But, statistically speaking more than one million people get cancer in the U.S. every year and 1 out of every 2 men and 1 out of every 3 women will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime. Those odds are staggering and can seem overwhelming. I’ve worked with men and women battling a range of different cancers and have seen acupuncture positively support a broad spectrum of treatment regimens, including pharmaceutical intervention, chemotherapy, reconstruction and preventative surgery. Along those lines, these cancer statistics are leading more and more people to take preventative measures to beat cancer before they even get it.

You probably recently read about Angelina Jolie getting a preventative double mastectomy because she carried the BRCA1 gene, which increased her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer, which claimed the life of her mother at age 56. In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, Jolie wrote that her doctors estimated that she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. Jolie took the risk seriously and decided that the choice for her – and her family – was preventative surgery. She opted for this path long before cancer became a reality for her and joined a growing number of Americans that are doing so.

Some recent studies have found that an increased awareness of cancer risks, understanding of the disease and insurance coverage for the preventative surgery if the patient carries a gene identified with cancer are leading more and more patients to take the route that Jolie did. This NPR blog looked specifically at the preventative mastectomy trend earlier this month.

But what about those of us that don’t carry a gene like BRCA1? Our lifetime chances of getting cancer are still frighteningly high. So, what can we do to prevent or preempt the disease? Anything? Thankfully, the answer is yes.

The Mayo Clinic recently issued “Cancer Prevention: 7 Tips to Prevent the Disease” and offers some sage advice, including:

  1. Don’t use tobacco
  2. Eat a healthy diet
  3. Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active
  4. Protect yourself from the sun
  5. Get immunized
  6. Avoid risky behaviors
  7. Get regular medical care

We can’t prevent all ailments or preempt all disease, but we can take responsibility for our health, our exercise habits and our commitment to mental focus…and, in extreme cases, we can take preventative measures if they could minimize our cancer risk. Like Jolie said in her New York Times piece:

“Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”

Author Sharon Sherman practices acupuncture and chinese medicine in the Philadelphia, PA area. 

 

Battling Eating Disorders: How Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture Can Help

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Did you know that in ancient China, eating disorders were considered to be the result of a ghost or demon invading the body? While modern science and medicine have ruled out that root cause, treating an eating disorder is still very much a battle for each patient…one that can be long, arduous and require several different treatment approaches to ultimately triumph.

There are two eating disorders that are most common here in the U.S. – anorexia nervosa (when a patient severely limits food intake) and bulimia nervosa (when a patient binge eats and then purges by inducing vomiting).  Both are serious medical conditions that are best treated by psychological counseling and conventional medical treatment and supervision.

Chinese Medicine and acupuncture can also play a role in supporting eating disorder patients and accelerating their recovery. Specifically, there are three types of symptoms or conditions associated with eating disorders for which Chinese Medicine has been shown to be effective:

Stress

While an eating disorder has outward physical signs, symptoms and hallmarks, the root of the disease is psychological and driven by the patient’s desire to be thin. This unending quest takes a toll on the body, but also on the patient’s stress levels and emotional well-being. A recent study showed that eating disorder patients receiving acupuncture as an adjunctive treatment felt less stress and anxiety.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Eating disorder patients that are not on a regular diet or are struggling to return to a healthier eating regimen may be experiencing GI issues associated with their eating habits. This can result in abdominal bloating, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and acid reflux. A review article in the Journal of Gastroenterology concluded that acupuncture was effective in helping treat GI issues and that “in the future, it is anticipated that acupuncture will be used to treat these [GI] patients in addition to the current therapy. This would also significantly reduce the cost of medical treatment.”

Infertility

Because diet and nutrition are literally the fuel for your body’s engine, eating disorders negatively impact your overall health by weakening all of the body’s systems – cardiac, GI, immune and reproductive. Studies have shown that patients with eating disorders can struggle with infertility later in life.  Studies have also shown that Chinese Medicine and acupuncture can be used to effectively treat infertility, as highlighted in this recent WebMD article about “The Ancient Art of Infertility Treatment.”

Eating disorders are devastating to the patient, as well as his/her family and loved ones. Thankfully, there is an ever-increasing body of research and conventional and alternative treatments available to help patients conquer this disease.

Eczema: How Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture Can Help

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Eczema – also sometimes referred to as dermatitis – is a common skin condition marked by an itchy red rash that can appear in skin folds around the knees, elbows or neck. Children commonly suffer from eczema, but studies have also shown the condition to be widespread in adults – with recent studies showing that up to 30% of the population suffers from eczema at some point in their lives.

The causes of eczema are not fully understood, but researchers and scientists believe that the condition is probably the result of a number of factors including genetics and the patient’s environment. Eczema is usually mild and causes itching and irritation, but in more severe forms, it can lead to pain and discomfort, can disrupt sleep and can limit daily activities. Traditional treatments for eczema include creams, ointments or corticosteroids and doctors often recommend that patients avoid soap, detergents or materials that could increase irritation.

Looking at eczema from a traditional Chinese Medicine perspective is a wholly different approach. While allergies and environment may be factors, Chinese Medicine also explores the role of the body’s overall health and balance (both physical and emotional). Ailments and illnesses occur when this balance is disturbed and skin conditions, rashes and irritations can be external symptoms of other health factors and problems like emotional stress, diet and fatigue.

So, to treat eczema, Chinese Medicine takes a more whole body / whole patient approach. I talk with my patients to learn more about their health and habits. Is there an underlying health problem or illness? A change in work or stress levels? An alteration in diet?  Using this information I then develop a customized treatment regimen of herbs, acupuncture and even diet for each patient. Using this personalized approach to restoring overall balance, I have had success decreasing patients’ eczema, itching and irritation.

This approach has worked for others, as well, and more and more patients are turning to Chinese Medicine to help treat the underlying cause of their eczema. In fact, a study published in 2011 showed that acupuncture treatment helped reduce itch intensity for patients suffering from eczema.

Healthy New Year – Resolutions for Better Health in 2013

Friday, January 18th, 2013

It’s here. 2013. Hopefully you rang it in with joy and good health, but if you are like many Americans, you have resolved to eat better and be better when it comes to your health this year.

Easier said than done, right?

If you are still on track and haven’t broken that New Year’s Resolution just yet, good for you. If you’ve faltered a bit, here are 5 top tips from Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM) that may help you stay the course.

1. Move more

Stagnation is not good – especially when it’s your body. To really take control of your health and keep your blood and endorphins flowing, you’ve got to get up and move. It could be as simple as getting outside for a 20 minute walk. The key is moving. Your body is an instrument – the most important (and only one!) you’ve got – you’ve got to keep it tuned up and in shape to get the most out of it.

2. Stress less

This one seems obvious, but it’s often the hardest to accomplish. We all have stress in our lives, but it seriously impacts your qi and the body’s ability to clear toxins and ward off illness. Take 10 minutes to slow down and listen to your breathing. Seriously think about cutting out those activities or people that bring you nothing but stress. Your body will thank you.

3. Eat and Drink When You are Hungry and Thirsty

I know, this one sounds plainly obvious, but think about how the vast majority of people eat or drink today. It tends to be about quantity, not quality and about schedules, not listening to your body’s needs. Traditional Chinese Medicine emphasizes moderation in eating and drinking (TCM says to eat until you feel 70% full) and advises that people consume food and beverages when the body needs it.

4. Think About “Hot” and “Cold” Foods

Again, TCM is all about balance, so if you are someone who tends to feel or be cold, think about adding more “warm” foods and spices into your diet – both food temperature and also characteristics (curries, chili peppers, etc.) On the other end of the spectrum, if you are often hot or live in a warmer climate, TCM dictates that “cool” foods will help balance your diet. You might want to add more mint, cucumbers, or celery to your meals.

5. Eat locally and seasonally

TCM emphasizes balance and the body’s relationship with its surroundings. By eating fruits, vegetables and even meats that were locally grown or harvested, you are connecting your body and your health with your environment. You also eat more healthily by selecting produce that is in season. There’s a reason certain fruits and vegetables are ripe and ready for eating in certain months, whether it’s peaches in the summer or root vegetables in the fall and winter – your body is attuned to that harvesting cycle and will thank you for it.

 

These are just a few of my own tips and resolutions for 2013. What are some of yours? Let me know in the comments or Tweet me at @empiricalpoint.

 

And here’s to a happy and healthy 2013!

 

 

The Concept of Qi in Chinese Medicine

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

chinese qiThe Daoist philosophical approach is a close relationship between humankind and nature. Concepts of qi can be noted by Daoist writers such as Lao Zi, Zhuang Zi and Lao-Zhuang. Qi was used to explain the workings of the entire universe. As a microcosm of the universe, the concept of qi made its way into medical writings.

Qi became known as the vital substance of living beings. Medical theorists postulated that just as qi was seen to drive wind through the sky, collect in mountains and course from the river to the sea, qi must certainly follow these same principles within the body. This becomes the basis of anatomy and physiology in Chinese medicine. It is known to practitioners of acupuncture Chinese medicine as the jing luo  经络.

When qi was adopted as a construct of physiology in Chinese medical theory, differentiating the many processes of qi in the body then followed. Very sophisticated and complex mechanisms to explain the processes of human life took shape. By the time the seminal text, “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine” was compiled (450-200 B.C.), close to 300 different categories of qi were expanded and developed to describe everything from the skin’s pores opening and closing to proper digestion and elimination.

The two most basic categories of qi are yin qi and yang qi. The yin qi is the nourishment that comes from the assimilation of food and drink via the digestion. The yang qi in its most yang form is known as Wei qi. This “defensive qi” circulates outside the jing luo as serves as a defensive mechanism against external pathogens that try to enter the body. This is very similar to the Western concept of having a strong immune system.

In addition to the basic broad categories of qi, all the internal organs have their own distinctive qi. Each organ’s unique qi is seen to control specific physiological, sensory and emotional processes

As you can see, qi is scalable and defines both health and pathological developments in the body. The practitioner of acupuncture and Chinese medicine uses questioning, palpation, observation and other sensory input to access a patient’s concerns. These concerns are then translated into proper and improper qi mechanisms within the body. The skilled practitioner then works to resolve the named imbalance, insufficiency or excess situation through the use of qigong, dietary therapy, massage, herbs or acupuncture.

This understanding and harnessing of qi – the vital substance of all living things – is the core element and foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the basis for how I work with all of my patients. To learn more about qi, you can visit:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arthur-rosenfeld/what-is-qi_b_743986.html

http://taoism.about.com/od/qi/a/Qi.htm

http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/archives2004/sep/09lo.html

The Olympics and Acupuncture!

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

If you’re like me, you’ve been watching the athletes in London go for gold and wow us with their amazing speed, strength and grace. When I watch, though, I must admit that I take a special interest in the athletes’ training regimens, the way they treat an injury or favor a sprain…I’m interested in how they take care of their greatest athletic resource – their bodies.

In reading about this year’s Olympic athletes, I’ve found that many of them are using traditional Chinese medicine and, specifically, acupuncture to prepare, train and compete. Athletes from all over the world – the US, Japan, China, Australia, the UK and South Korea – are all employing TCM and acupuncture at the Games.

The Japanese triathlon team swears by it and an interesting article in The Examiner gives even more insight into their approach:

“If an athlete feels pain, we use acupuncture as first aid,” explains Minoru Yajima, medical advisor and physiotherapist for Japan’s Triathlon team. Most of Team Japan’s medal winning medical strategy is preventative and based on a time tested Japanese tradition – shiatsu massage.

USA’s own wonder vaulter McKayla Maroney has been using it to treat a broken toe, according to NPR:

Since that dismount [injury], Maroney has reduced her training to ice the injury and undergo electronic stimulation and acupuncture therapy, to speed healing.

Numerous track and field athletes have traveled to the Olympics with their acupuncturists, including US runner Dee Dee Trotter. US pole vaulter Jeremy Scott uses acupuncture in his treatment regimen for a knee injury and track and field competitor Amy Acuff is not only a five-time Olympian, but a licensed acupuncturist herself! She has attributed some of her long-term success in the strenuous, high injury sport to acupuncture.

Also, the South Korean athletes use it almost exclusively for pains, strains and muscle injuries. Athletes on their volleyball and handball teams use acupuncture to recover rapidly from injuries and the athletes have said that it helps boost their performance, as well.

Now, I know that we are not all Olympic athletes and we may not be making it to the next summer games in Rio de Janeiro (as competitors, anyway), but it is interesting to see the world’s elite sportsmen and women employing more and more traditional Chinese medicine treatments and acupuncture. If this trend continues, I expect that I will be working with an even greater number of local athletes, runners, cyclists and even just ‘weekend warriors’ in the years to come.

Long live (healthy) sport!