Complementary Medicine in a Mainstream World

Complementary MedicineIt may seem strange that bending in half or putting both legs overhead is how many people relax, but yoga, which is no stranger to both of these goals, has indeed become one of the most popular forms of exercise across the United States.

Of course, yoga is not the only type of balancing act to come out of the ancient traditions of the East. In recent years, most forms of alternative medicine have come out from the shadows to be part of the mainstream culture in America. Though the actual prevalence of these methods changes from area to area, there is still a huge push for more holistic methods of preventative medicine.

In a 2012 study done by Men’s Health magazine, over half (about 53%) of Americans were shown to regularly use some form of complementary or alternative medicine. This includes those that do yoga as well as those that participate in acupuncture, meditation, mantras, aromatherapy, and many other types of complementary medicine.

The Chakra Unlocked

Complementary MedicineWhether you are just trying out different types of medicinal helps for the fun of it, are a devotee of complementary medicine and all of its benefits, or are somewhere in the middle, there are apps created for you.

It would be hard to put these apps into a single group because they can vary in purpose. For example, you could download an app that gives you new ideas or challenges for yoga poses every day, give the nearest location of an acupuncturist, or provide soothing sounds or mantras to help you center yourself.

All of these apps are wonderful tools for helping you to keep the chakras in balance, but not all apps are available to every type of phone. The new iPhone 4, for instance, allows you to look at possible apps through iTunes, but does not allow you to look at any other options.

To free up app possibilities and unlock the ability to tap into alternative methods with mainstream gadgets, many find it is best to unlock iPhone 4.

Though there may be a lot of good help with apps already available to the users of iPhone 4, this will help you not only to utilize those apps, but also to have the opportunity to explore your options.

A Beautiful Balance

Working toward achieving and taking advantage of complementary medicine may be a little daunting, especially if you are trying to fit them in between work, family, and a social life. Using the tools provided by apps, however, can give you a good head start.

Providing a way for you to find the best types of complementary and alternative methods for healing is the purpose of many apps. By opening up new avenues for self-discovery and mastery, you will find that your mind and spirit will have more opportunities to be opened.

By taking the example of over 150 million Americans and opening yourself, and your iPhone 4, to new ideas and experiences, you can discover yourself from the inside out, no matter what types of mainstream stresses are trying to make their way in.

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What To Expect During Your First Acupuncture Visit

What To Expect During Your First Acupuncture VisitAcupuncture is easily the most visible of all forms of Eastern medicine, but most people in Europe and the United States haven’t tried it.

If you’re interested in the kinds of benefits you can receive from this two thousand-year-old treatment, you should schedule an appointment with a local acupuncturist. Here’s a guide to understanding what you can expect during your first acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture is a Proven Treatment for Many Conditions

Acupuncture has been practiced for more than two thousand years, and boasts a wide array of scientific backing. This form of Eastern medicine is used around the world as both primary and supplemental treatment for a variety of conditions.

Most people go to an acupuncturist to find relaxation or help with a specific complaint. Once you’ve identified why you want to try acupuncture, you’re on the way to getting more out of your visits.

Diagnosing and Treating You on Your First Visit

Acupuncturist

At most clinics, your first acupuncture appointment will last longer than further treatment and any follow-up visits. You will be questioned in ways that may not seem relevant, so be prepared to answer questions about your bowel movements, any menstruation problems, or any back pain.

Usually, acupuncturists will use diagnostic measures of looking at your tongue and taking your pulse to make sure they can provide the best and most specific care for you. Then he or she will describe treatment options and lifestyle changes you might take to improve your condition.

When it comes to communicating with you, most acupuncturists will opt for Western medical terms to avoid confusing you, so you don’t have anything to worry about on that score.

Beginning Treatment With Acupuncture

Most acupuncturists will not begin treatment on the first visit, but when you’re ready, there are a few things you should know.

First, most forms of treatment will be fairly light in order to gauge your comfort level and allow your acupuncturist to see how you respond to the needles. Based on your diagnosis, initial treatment will usually involve between three to ten acupuncture points.

Responding to Needles During Acupuncture

Most people’s biggest fear when it comes to acupuncture is the feel of the needles in the skin. However, the feeling is normally mild and in most styles of acupuncture, you will feel almost nothing.
Generally, the needles are only inserted about one to three mm into the body, though deeper on fleshier areas.

Learn More About Acupuncture

There are a lot of resources available on acupuncture, so if you have further questions, consult your acupuncturists or check out books at your local library to learn more about the practice.
We think you’ll be surprised at how much you come to enjoy acupuncture.

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Yin and Yang – Finding Inner Balance for Better Health

yin and yangIf you’ve watched any number of Kung Fu movies or simply kept an eye out for anything denoting Asian culture, then you’re probably familiar with this black and white circle. This symbol represents the concept of Yin and Yang, two complementary forces that supposedly bring balance to the universe. Light and shadow, water and fire, male and female, hot and cold – the two opposites complete each other in a dynamic system. One cannot exist without the other.

For your own personal understanding, Yin is the black side with the white dot (the feminine side) and Yang is the white side with the black dot (the masculine side). They are sometimes described as two fish, swimming head to tail, and the literal translation means mean the dark side and sunny side of a hill.

The Story

Although there are multiple stories involving Yin and Yang, the earliest version of its origins involve a vapor that permeated the whole cosmos. The two strongest forces emerged out of the vapor, and they were known as Yin and Yang. When the two touched, the universe started to emerge.

Yang gave birth to fire and sun, while Yin gave birth to water, moon and stars. Their balancing personalities brought about life and continue to reside throughout humanity.

For Health

This idea is especially useful for maintaining inner balance in one’s life. Between food and exercise, sleep and work, stress and relaxation – Yin and Yang can be used to describe how an individual walks the fine line between what is good for the body and what isn’t.

A little confused?

Consider this, the body is dependent on food for nutrients, but on the flip side, when consumed in great quantities, food can lead to higher risks of heart attack and stroke. Similarly, exercise is essential for maintaining strong and healthy muscles, but as a counterpoint, too much exercise can lead to muscle soreness and injury.

The key is to find the perfect balance between too much and too little, Yin and Yang. Moderation in all things can help you lead a healthier, happier life, proving that just a little extra discretion in your decisions can go a long way.

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Understanding Green Tea

green teaGreen Tea – You’ve probably seen it touted on diet pills and flaunted on skincare products. It’s the supposed cure-all for everything from headaches to fatigue to acne to bloat and everything in between. Experts gush about its unique abilities to fight cancer while nutritionists swear by it as the ultimate solution for cleansing the body and boosting the immune system.

Yet what makes this Asian brew so special? Is it really the ultimate ingredient for a healthy life? Or have we simply overhyped its abilities because it’s been around for so long? Let’s take a closer look at its history to see if we can answer any of our questions.

Details on Green Tea

Green Tea is created from the leaves of the Sinensis , and unlike other teas made from the same plant, Green Tea is steamed rather than fermented, which allows for the greatest concentrations of antioxidants and catechins. It is the second most popular drink consumed worldwide, and many cultures and customs involve Green Tea as part of certain rituals.

For over 4,000 years, this herbal beverage was used for its medicinal abilities and healing properties, but only recently has its true benefits been revealed through clinical research.

Benefits of Green Tea

In 1994, the Journal of National Cancer Institute published that a study on the benefits of drinking Green Tea. The results were surprising: those who drank green tea were less likely to develop esophageal cancer in Chinese men and women by nearly 60%. The studied revealed that the ingredients in Green Tea inhibited the production of cancer cells while simultaneously lowering LDL cholesterol levels.

Green Tea’s Health benefits are primarily due to its high concentrations of flavonoids (plant-derived antioxidants). These flavonoids are especially effective in cleansing the body of harmful bi-products called free radicals, inhibiting oxidative damage to cells and naturally boosting the immune system.

By drinking a cup of tea on a regular basis, you may experience the following benefits:

• Decrease in appetite
• Increase in energy
• Boost in metabolism
• Sharpening of mental acuity and focus
• Lower cholesterol levels
• Improved ability to cope with stress
• Cleansed of toxins
• Stronger bones

Conclusion

Green Tea provides a wide variety of benefits that are essential for maintaining a healthier body and living a longer life. Whether you’re looking to lose a few extra pounds or simply trying to find a healthy substitute for your daily cup of coffee, Green Tea appears to be a one of the best beverages available.

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Benefits of Tai Chi

benefits of tai chi

Exercise can be a great way to relax and unwind, but if you’re feeling self-conscious about going to the gym and bulking up, then perhaps Tai Chi is just what you need to get your body moving in the right direction.

Its gentle flowing movements are enough to work your muscles and mind but without adding to the strain of an already hectic lifestyle. Tai Chi can be done by the young and old alike, and you can adjust the pace to your body’s needs. Practicing Tai Chi regularly can help you de-stress while improving your balance and strength.

What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi is often considered to be “meditation in motion” because it connects the mind to the body, promoting smooth and gentle motions rather than jerking and forcing the muscles to lift heavy weights. Each posture flows into the next, so you’re constantly moving and allowing your person Qi (chi) to flow. Depending on the style of Tai Chi, it can be fast enough to get your heart racing or slow enough to relax your body after a hard day at work.

There are over 100 possible movements and positions, and each of them requires a balance of inner peace and physical strength to promote an enhanced sense of wellbeing.

Health Benefits of Tai Chi

• Improves flexibility, balance, and muscle strength
• Reduces blood pressure and cholesterol
• Improves sleep quality
• Lessens anxiety and depression
• Reduces chronic pain
• Increases endurance, energy, and agility

How to Get Started

There are a wide variety of books and videos available to help beginners control their breathing and introduce them to the basic forms and movements. Tai Chi is meant to be gentle, but forcing your body into an awkward position can result in serious injury. To ensure that you don’t strain your body by doing a form incorrectly, it is best to start off with a live trainer or instructor to teach you how to practice Tai Chi safely.

Check out your local senior center, YMCA, YWCA, Health Club or wellness facility to see if Tai Chi classes are available so you can get started. Be aware, however, that Tai Chi instructors don’t have to be licensed, so make sure that your trainer has plenty of experience and recommendations before following their instruction. Through continued practice, you may eventually feel comfortable doing Tai Chi on your own.

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Feng Shui for Health

feng shui for health

Have you ever noticed that it’s much easier to work in a clean environment? That your thoughts are somehow clearer and your fingers move just a little faster?

Or on the flip side, do you find yourself twitching with irritation at the site of a crooked painting or wanting to straighten that leaning tower of pizza boxes?

Humans are inexplicably connected with their environment, and changing your environment can help stimulate productivity for the better.

Interestingly, the Chinese belief of Feng Shui centers on the principal that you can absorb energy from your surroundings, and with the right balance of cleanliness and organization, you can create an environment that will not only improve your energy levels, but enhance your mood, increase your mental acuity, and boost your immunity.

What is Qi?

Qi, pronounced “chi,” is the universal energy, or life force, that flows around and through every one of us. Although we can’t see it, we can feel its effects, making it important to maintain a positive flow throughout our lives.

How does Qi influence our lives?

Take a moment to reflect how your environment influences you. When you’re in a massive library, surrounded by ancient books, are you more likely to listen to head-banging music or talk in whispers while pursuing thoughtful study? When you’re attending a favorite sport event, are you more likely to dress in funeral black or wear bold winning colors while screaming your support?

The energy that flows from our environment can be somber or stimulating, and according to belief, when that energy becomes blocked or stuck, it can cause an imbalance with everything in its path. This imbalance can cause feelings of unease, discomfort, and even result in depression, irritability, lethargy, and even difficulty focusing or sleeping. The longer we remain in such an environment, the more you put your health at risk.

On the flip side, if that energy is free to flow throughout the room, qi can invite a positive spirit of confidence, motivation, and good will.

What Blocks Qi?

Clutter: As any good housewife can testify, clutter is the surest way to turn a happy home into one filled with anger and irritability. Chances are likely, if you’re tripping over a stack of dirty laundry, then your qi is tripping over it too. Qi is can become stuck and stale when a room is congested with needless clutter. This feeling of being cramped or confused can influence the way we work, increasing stress levels and even resulting in poor health.

Wrong Colors: What we see can influence the way we think, and colors carry powerful signals to the brain. A room with electric orange paint on the wall may make for a vibrant atmosphere, but it can also make it difficult to sleep in. Deep blues and somber grays may produce a calming effect, or it may cause feelings of loneliness and depression. Be aware that colors can change the spirit of a room for good or for bad depending on its use.

Poorly Arranged Furniture: Although many people mock feng shui as nothing more than excuse to arrange furniture, there is a reasoning behind the method. If you can’t get past the couch in order to get to your bedroom, then you might find it an irritating inconvenience every night when you wish to go to sleep. Like you, qi needs to be able to flow smoothly from one room to the next.

Making a Change for the Better

Interestingly, as we adapt to our environment, we can also change our environment to suit our needs. Feng Shui can help you manipulate the energy in your room to create a positive and uplifting environment. These Feng Shui Tips can help you get started on the path to a healthier life:

1. Pick up your Shoes: A stray sneaker can lead to a stubbed toe.

2. Keep the TV out of the bedroom: the bedroom needs to be a place of peace and relaxation, and the unnatural light from the television is too stimulating to promote a good night’s rest.

3. Put your bed against the wall: A solid wall offers a sense of security and protection, enabling you to go into a deeper and more restful sleep. Similarly, avoid having the bed in direct line with the door – the possibility of an intruder coming keeps sleep light and easily interrupted.

4. Open a Window: Air (and qi) that sits too long in the same room becomes stale and uncomfortable. Cracking open a window invites fresh air to circulate throughout the home.

5. Have several levels of lighting: Whether you have a dimmer switch installed or decide to light a few candles for a romantic evening, having various levels of lighting is important for a healthy home. During the day, be sure to use plenty of natural light to maintain a positive atmosphere. At night, tone it down with bedside lamps.

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Make Time for Mantras

make time for mantras

“A mantra is a powerful word. It vibrates like music does, only not on this plane but on other planes of reality. It creates a powerful force.” – Anonymous

Many people ride off mantras as nothing more than a superstitious belief, but for those doubters in the world, evidence has shown there is a power in sound. It can make the impossible, possible.

Strength and renewed determination can result from repeating words aloud. Vows, promises, and beliefs gain substance when given a voice. It is often said that the sound of the mantra can aid the believer in achieving enlightenment, lifting him or her toward a higher sense of self.

History of the Mantra

Words are revered means of communication, whether you’re discussing politics with a friend or pouring out your heart in prayer. All throughout history various cultures have believed in the sacred power of words or sounds. The English word “spell”, for example, can mean the simple array of letters to form words, as well as mean the power to manipulate nature to do the speaker’s bidding.

“It is believed that if you knew the true names of the gods, then you could call upon them and compel them to do your bidding.”

Although it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact date of its emergence, the mantra originated in ancient India, passed down from Vedic texts that constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and scripture. Nearly every mantra in Vedas, Upanishad, and various religious traditions such as the sampradayas, begin with the primordial sound Om or Aum – the words for the beginning and the end, and the first sound said to have caused the creation of the cosmos.

”In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

The Strength of Sound

Just as a loud trumpet can call to action or a soft humming can lull to sleep, different sounds can influence the human psyche. It can sooth jar or soothe nerves. Cause us to weep with pain or with joy. Sounds can affect us both physically and mentally.

Speaking from personal experience, I was had a teacher who assembled a team of the biggest, bulkiest, most-muscular men in the classroom. Each of these guys could easily star on a football or basketball team and all of them were well known for being capable athletes.

Our skinny, nerdy professor then asked them to hold out their arms as an experiment for the class. He then tried his best to push their arms back to their sides, using every ounce of leverage and strength he could possibly muster. He couldn’t, of course.
If they had wanted to, any of these young men could pick the professor up and throw him over their shoulders. He was just that small. The class giggled and laughed as he practically threw his weight against the outstretched arms and failed to make them budge an inch.

Next, as part of the experiment, he played thirty 30 seconds of hardcore, ear-bleeding death metal “music” at its highest possible volume. I’m not sure where he found the album and still can’t figure out if what he did was permitted by school standards, but it lasted for less than a minute. Everyone sat for several seconds, shell-shocked and horrified.

Then, one by one. He pushed down the outstretched arms of his athletic students. No effort. No strain. It was as if the sound had sapped them of their strength. Many of the boys stared at him with wide-eyed wonder. They couldn’t believe that a teacher half their size, who had struggled to make them move so much as an inch only moments before, could push them around so easily.

To prove his point, he then played Bach’s Ode to Joy for 30 seconds and repeated the experiment. The effect was immediate – he couldn’t budge them an inch.

Although many students left the classroom thinking that the professor was simply trying to hype up his lesson on musical theory, a few students came away with the realization that there truly is strength in sound.

Mantra for Medicine

Despite recent advances in medical technology, there is a wide call for alternative forms of medicine, and because sound has such a unique effect on the human body, Mantras are quickly gaining popularity. According to Ashley-Farrand, mantras energize prana (a form of life energy that can be transferred between individuals). By reciting a mantra while visualizing healing, many believe that the otherworldly combination of sound and concentration can act as effective remedy for a wide variety of ailments.

However, a mantra chanted carelessly without conviction, or chosen thoughtlessly will not achieve the desired result. It is only through faith and strong will that Mantras can achieve one’s goals. Although this may just be a unique twist on the power of positive thinking, mantras have helped countless individuals for thousands of individuals searching for answers and strength – and it may even work for you.

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A Point for Parkinson’s

a point for parkinson's

As physicians branch out into alternative forms of medicine, Acupuncture is beginning to gain more popularly for its ability to relieve back pain, headaches, and similar ailments.

However, can this prickly treatment provide relief to those suffering from Parkinson’s disease?

A little more about Parkinson’s

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the brain that leads to shaking (tremors) and difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination.” Although the disease is most common to those after the age of 50, Parkinson’s disease can change the lives of everyone involved, both men and women, old and young.

Initially, symptoms of the disease may be mild, such as a slight tremor in the hand or one foot may feel stiff and dragging. However, as the disorder progresses, symptoms may include a few of the following:

• Impaired balance and walking
• Difficulty swallowing
• Lack of facial expression
• Rigid or stiff muscles
• Confusion or dementia
• Fatigue

How Acupuncture May Help

For those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Acupuncture may be to provide temporary relive from the chronic exhaustion.
Dr. Benzi Kluger, assistant professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Colorado Hospital points out, ” People with Parkinson’s disease still have fatigue even when their sleep problems are treated,” and alternative methods for the disease may provide potential solution.

Acupuncture has been known to alleviate fatigue in patients, though studies are inconclusive as to why. This eastern treatment targets specific points in the body in order to promote the flow of qi (chi) through the body. Surprisingly, pressure to these areas can stimulate blood flow, supposedly reducing chronic pain in these areas.

After acquiring nearly $350,000 from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Kluegar uses the money to study the effects of Acupuncture on patients, hopefully finding a possible remedy for this debilitating disorder. Though it may be too soon to reach any conclusive results, Parkinson patient Howard Ewy believes that Acupuncture is helping him to “walk further and faster” with “fewer naps.”

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All about Moxibustion

all about moxibustion

Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese treatment for stimulating circulation. Much like Acupunture, moxibustion focuses primarily around key points in the body to induce a smoother flow of qi. Moxibustion derives from the Japanese word Mogusa (mugwort) and involves burning a small, cone-shaped amount of mugwort or moxa on or near the skin. There are two types of moxibustion therapies: direct and indirect treatments.

Direct Moxibustion

Direct Moxibustion burns mugwort directly on the skin, typically in sync with acupunctural points. This method of Moxibustion is considered a more traditional technique and is said to improve effectively improve immunity while providing therapeutic heat to the area.

However, if done improperly, Direct Moxibustion can result in blistering, burn marks, and even scarring.

Indirect Moxibustion

Indirect Moxibustion is considered the safer alternative because it reduces the risk of skin damage. The moxibustion practioner holds one end of a moxa stick an inch or two away from the skin, enough to bring soothing warmth to the area without causing painful burns. The intensity is adjusted to individual preference and can also increase blood flow.

Benefits of Moxibustion

From a medical perspective, the infrared radiation of moxa burning is very similar to the radiation given off in the human body. The resulting heat penetrates deeply into the body, leaving the patient warmed and soothed. However, if we were to analyze what the Chinese sages have been doing for years, we’d discover that when the human body sustains a significant burn, biological systems are triggered in defense against further damage. This defense response results into the production of new blood and tissues—and of course, stimulating blood flow to the area.

Moxibustion is said to treat the following health issues:
• Arthritis
• Headaches and migraines
• Back pain
• Muscle stiffness
• Infertility
• Ulcers
• Digestive problems
• Tendonitis

This inexpensive form of therapy can significantly improve immunity and can even been an effective treatment for depression and fatigue.

Is Moxibustion Safe?

The risk of burns aside, Moxibustion is an ancient remedy that can provide soothing heat safely to a tense area. However, Moxibustion isn’t recommended for those with diabetes and it is good practice to consult a doctor before trying moxibustion if you’re pregnant.

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Treating Headaches

Headaches are common, and most people have experienced them from time to time. They are caused by various triggers, but particularly stress, allergies, hormonal imbalances, anxiety, constipation, caffeine withdrawal, hunger, head trauma, eyestrain, muscle tension, and sinus pressure.

Migraines are a severe form of headache dealing with circulation in the brain, and so are difficult to treat as its nearly impossible to track where disturbances are occurring.

90% of headaches are tension headaches, resulting from high-stress situations or anxiety. But another common headache is called the cluster headache. These are considered the most painful kind of headache and strike in succession over a period of time.

Like many health concerns, headaches could be the way your body is trying to communicate with you about underlying health concerns. Many headaches result from food allergies that sufferers are unaware of. But one of the largest contributors to headaches is dehydration.

Helpful Treatments:

Bromelain is an enzyme that regulates the inflammatory response within the body. This can be helpful in treating headaches because inflammation in the brain or slow circulation is a large cause of the pain we feel during headaches. Particularly with migraines, bromelain has been shown to be effective.

Any substance that can help to relieve tension within the body can assist in treating headaches. Calcium and magnesium can release muscular tension and relax muscles and blood vessels. Always use chelated forms of both calcium and magnesium as these are the most absorbent and effective.

Eating foods that are high in antioxidants can help detox and oxygenate tissues within the body, helping to relieve headaches and muscle tension. Vitamin C with bioflavanoids can release anti-stress hormones throughout the body, relieving tension headaches. Always use an esterified or buffered form of Vitamin C, it is most effective. Also protects the body from toxicity found in the air, water, food, etc. which can contribute to headaches.

Glucosamine sulfate works like aspirin to improve circulation and relieve inflamed tissue without the use of steroids.

Herbal Remedies:

You can make a salve combining ginger, peppermint oil, and wintergreen oil and rub into the nape of the neck and temples. This can help relieve tension headaches. For sinus problems, this can also relieve symptoms if spread across affected regions.

My favorite herb for relieving and preventing headaches is cayenne pepper extract. Cayenne reduces the pain experienced during headaches along with relieving pressure. Cayenne stimulates circulation and gets blood flow moving–relieving many kinds of headaches, particularly migraines. Combining cayenne with chamomile can make an effective treatment for headaches. Chamomile relaxes the body and mind, helping sooth tension, while cayenne eliminates pain. The two work wonders when combined.

Preventing Headaches

Eating a well-balanced diet–including protein with every meal–can help prevent headaches from occurring. Staying hydrated and maintaining good posture can also help. Avoid dairy, salt, and sugar.

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