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One day, when being treated by an acupuncturist, a Spanish friend who was visiting me in London walked into the room and remarked that I looked like a bull who’d had a run in with the picadores (the dudes on horseback who stick the bull with many little knives to rile him up before the actual fight). I assured her that although I was stuck with needles, I was faring far better than the bull would in the analogous scenario. In fact, those many little needles have helped me through many an ailment. Eastern medicine has a different approach than Western medicine – it’s more holistic. The root of the problem is addressed, as opposed to a symptom being attended to with prescription medication, only to return. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful as hell for a round of antibiotics or surgery when necessary, but I have been helped tremendously by all of the practices below that help the body heal itself. When implemented by a professional with experience, the benefits can work wonders.
By Adele Reising
I am a practitioner of Chinese medicine, which includes acupuncture, herbal medicine and Chinese medical massage, among other types of treatment. I have my own private practice in New York City.
Here, I hope to give you a taste of the vast wisdom on health and well-being embodied in this ancient medical practice, as well as a few practical and easy applications that you can start to incorporate into your life today. If you are already familiar with Chinese medicine, I think there will be something here for you as well.
When in college at Indiana University in 1987, I met a Chinese medical doctor. This was my first exposure to Chinese medicine and I was intrigued by a medical practice with a two-thousand year history, built on a complete medical system virtually ignored by Western studies. When I began my studies with her, I began a journey that would not only take me to China, but would forever change my life.
I went on to earn a Master’s degree in Chinese medicine from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (where I ultimately taught from 1999 to 2006 and served as department chair of herbal medicine for four years). For two-and-a-half years I studied in Beijing, which included two hospital residencies. I am fluent in Chinese and read classical Chinese, the language the medical texts use. I continue my studies to this day with a Korean master, Won Duk-Huang, and the Taoist master Jeffery Yuen.
Chinese medicine is based on the ancient Chinese philosophical principle of the holistic nature of the universe, where humans are essentially a representation of the universe. For example, the heart is like the sun in the sky, the lungs the atmosphere or the sky itself, the digestion is the soil of the earth and the kidneys are the salty oceans. Chinese medicine studies the natural order of the universe in order to understand the inner workings of the human body.
Acupuncture works on a system of meridians that flows through the body, much like the nervous system or circulatory system. Qi (pronounced “chee”), our life force, moves through the meridians and is thought to flow like rivers on the earth into the sea. Certain points along the meridians will clog up or get weak; the body can’t do what it knows to do to stay healthy and illness ensues. The insertion of very fine, painless needles into these points mobilizes the flow of Qi through these meridians in therapeutic ways.
Many people think that acupuncture works on the nervous system and is used solely to treat pain. However, just as we go to our doctors for all types of ailments, Chinese medicine too, treats everything, because it is a complete medical system. While I can and do often treat pain, I also treat allergies, asthma, auto-immune disorders, gynecological disorders, infertility, migraines, irritable bowel, acid reflux, gastro-intestinal disorders, skin rashes, acne, nicotine and other drug addictions, even Asperger’s syndrome.
Chinese medicine excels at treating diseases that are chronic in nature and that Western medicine has limited treatment for, such as irritable bowel or acid reflux. Doctors manage the symptoms, but a Chinese doctor can actually cure the condition. Allergies and asthma fall into this category as well. I have cured many patients of allergies and asthma, especially children. While treating a disease such as asthma with acupuncture, the patient may continue to use inhalers to manage symptoms. My goal as an acupuncturist is to improve the situation so that inhalers are no longer necessary.
Here are a few home remedies that I often recommend to my patients and use myself. Chinese herbal remedies, like needles, help stimulate the Qi and encourage healing. I do suggest, though, that you see an acupuncturist for a full diagnosis and follow-up care.
Ginger Tea with Raw Brown Sugar (for menstrual cramps)
Ingredients: Three slices of fresh minced ginger, raw brown sugar.
Boil in one-and-a-half cups of water for five to ten minutes. Add one tablespoon of raw, unprocessed brown sugar and enjoy.
Castor Oil Pack (for joint pain)
Materials: Castor oil, a washcloth or an unbleached paper towel, plastic wrap, a hot water bottle or a heating pad.
Put one tablespoon of castor oil on the paper towel, let it absorb, and place on affected area (or put castor oil directly on affected area). Cover the washcloth. Place plastic wrap on top, to protect your heating pad or water bottle from the oil. Place the heating pad or hot water bottle over the plastic wrap. Apply to your aches and pains, enjoy for ten to twenty minutes.
Neti Pot (for clearing out the sinuses)
For sinus congestion, allergies and to prevent colds.
Materials: Neti pot, sea salt or kosher salt, baking soda, lukewarm water.
In the neti pot, mix one-quarter to one-half teaspoon of salt with one-quarter teaspoon baking soda, add lukewarm water and stir. Rinse each nostril with the liquid three to five times. For first time users, I recommend letting the liquid flow straight back and spitting it out your mouth. The baking soda creates an alkaline environment, which prevents bacterial overgrowth. If you experience burning, increase your vitamin C consumption and reduce the amount of salt. Avoid using the neti pot while you are sick.
Dry Brushing (for healthy skin and lymphatic system)
After showering, towel dry your body. Use a firm body brush (I like sisal brushes) and brush your skin vigorously from the tips of the fingers and toes toward the heart. Avoid the face and delicate areas. Moisturize as you normally would.
Scar Ointment (for new scars)
Materials: Nelsons Cuts & Scrapes Cream with with hypericum and calendula, helichrysum essential oil (Sunrose is a good brand).
Add ten drops of helichrysum essential oil per ounce of ointment. Mix thoroughly. Apply to the affected area twice daily and avoid sun exposure to the affected area.
Goji Berries with Chrysanthemum (for red, dry eyes)
Goji berries are all the rage now, Whole Foods sells them and I have even seen them covered in chocolate! (I do not recommend the chocolate-covered ones.) In fact, Goji berries’ health properties are greatly enhanced by cooking them five to ten minutes. Throw them into your hot cereal, soups or even tea. A very nice tea full of B vitamins (the natural way) is chrysanthemum and goji berry tea. Both of these foods happen to be good for the eyes as well.
For more information on Chinese medicine and my practice, you can visit my website at www.adelereising.com
By Amy Lafayette and Lisa Sutton
About five years ago, Gwyneth attended a premiere in a backless gown that sent tongues wagging. It wasn’t the designer of the dress that viewers were discussing; but rather, they were ogling the collection of symmetrical, purple dots that graced the skin of her back. “The marks of Gwyneth” were a sign of “cupping” and sent a flurry of photographs around the globe and even prompted her friend Oprah Winfrey to explore this ancient practice on her show.
The practice of cupping was conceived during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) in China, though ancient medical transcriptions suggest its existence in Egypt as well. In its original application, cupping was prescribed for the treatment of conditions such as pulmonary tuberculosis and rheumatoid pain. In ancient times, animal horns were used to facilitate the practice, primarily to drain snakebites and lesions. The remedial application of cupping has evolved concurrent to the refinement of the cup itself, and now cups are primarily fabricated out of glass or bamboo.
In our practice, we use multiple glass cups, attaching them to the skin using negative pressure by introducing heat in the form of an ignited material. The partial vacuum created by the removal of oxygen from the cup draws the underlying tissue into the vessel. As we often tell our younger patients, the cups will feel like a small octopus grabbing hold. We frequently employ the flashing method for deficient conditions, which relies on the repeated application of single cups on a specific area. We also use the sliding method, a technique that is employed over the dorsal (generally referred to as the back) surface of the body. The cupping method functions to stimulate and promote the free flow of Qi (energy) and blood in the meridians (energy highways). This creates a kind of local congestion that can eliminate blood stagnation that may be causing pain from a deeper layer in the muscle. By creating this suction and negative pressure, cupping is used to drain excess fluids and toxins, loosen adhesions and lift connective tissue, bring blood flow to stagnant skin and muscles, and stimulate the peripheral nervous system. Indications include, but are not exclusive to, the common cold with cough, asthma, headache, dizziness and digestive disorders. It is a veritable panacea for what ails you. Most patients find the experience pleasant, although they may be left with localized discoloration that will fade and disappear within a few days (up to a week). Curiously, cupping doesn’t always leave a mark, diagnostically supporting that there is no stagnation in that area.
Acupuncture is a licensed and regulated healthcare profession, but cupping and herbology do not require licensure. However, we strongly recommend that a licensed (or certified) practitioner perform this procedure.* We come by way of this 5,000-year-old tradition after ten years of practice and previous to that, a four-year Master’s practice in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). We completed our training at the Five Branches Institute, where the course of study includes acupuncture and moxibustion, herbology (formula strategy), Tui Na (medical massage), dietetics and Qigong (martial arts).
Amy Lafayette, L.Ac., and Lisa Sutton, L.Ac., currently practice in Los Angeles.
* Ask your practitioner if your state requires a license to practice. In states that do not currently require licensing, patients should ask their practitioner if they are certified by the NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies).
Su Jok Therapy
By Joad Puttermilech, Su Jok Research Institute founder
I have been in a healing atmosphere since childhood – my mother practiced Watsu and yoga – but I never thought I would become a therapist. It turned out that I did, and now I perform and teach energy healing and acupuncture, specializing in Su Jok therapy.
I found Su Jok in the early 2000s when a dancer patient of mine called me just after an accident. She was diagnosed with two herniated discs, could barely move and was advised to have surgery. As the show needed to go on and it was difficult to replace her, I looked for an unconventional solution. I went with her to Dr. Alexander, an anesthesiologist who had migrated early to acupuncture and a chiropractic practice. He inserted five tiny needles at the tip of her finger and instantly her back pain went away; two days later she was on stage. I couldn’t believe my eyes and asked how it was possible. “How did you do it?” With a loud laugh he said, “You must study.” That very day I became his student and assistant. I discovered this amazing hand therapy and went to many teachers, most of them physicians who had switched from allopathic medicine to Su Jok, until I met the founder of the method, Professor Park Jae Woo, from South Korea. Besides the hand acupuncture, Professor Park also taught me Twist Therapy and Smile Meditation.
A part of Onnuri medicine, Su Jok is a treatment system comprised of a variety of techniques that prevent and cure illness and restore health without any drugs. Our hands (“su” in Korean) and feet (“jok”) represent our entire body in miniature. In fact, they represent a smaller, but nevertheless true, mirror image of the whole body (for example, the thumbs and big toes represent the head). The same way we use a remote control to operate a television, we can use our hands and feet to influence our whole body and cure disease. By understanding the exact similarities between various parts of the body and the hands and feet, one can influence any place or problem using the corresponding Su Jok treatment. The body’s meridian system, with which we perform metaphysical energy manipulation therapies, is also reflected in the hands and feet. Knowledge of the principles of hand and foot therapy provides an impressive vehicle for personal and family healthcare. In fact, our vision is that a healer in every home can take care of him- or herself and his or her family.
Together with Professor Park, who I adopted as a spiritual father, I opened Smile College in 2005. Since then, more than 2,500 students have followed our programs, including a one-day introduction to self help and an extensive three-year program with branches in Europe, Asia and Africa.
The Su Jok Research Institute (SRI) now publishes Onnuri medical literature in English, French, Hebrew and Arabic (and will soon publish in Spanish and other languages). We provide training for physicians and paramedics – the first professionals to use these treatment methods in hospitals in the early 1990s with positive and immediate results that alleviated physical and emotional suffering. In many cases, we witnessed successful remission of symptoms in acute and chronic ailments of all kinds. Very effective in treating pain in the spine and articulations, Su Jok therapy can be practiced by mothers and fathers, and even by children.
Stimulation of the healing points will generally give instant results. For example, how can you dry a runny nose? Find the tender point on the last phalanx of the thumb corresponding to the sinuses (see pictures below), apply a black pepper seed with a band-aid and massage at will. PMS is also quite easy to relieve: firmly hold the tender point between the middle and the ring finger of the hand, which represents the female urogenital organs, and massage it until it’s no longer painful (usually one or two minutes is enough to get rid of the and heaviness and cramps). Backache? Work on the back of the hand. Stimulate the sensitive points just above the knuckles of the fist; you can also apply black pepper seeds.
Joad Puttermilech is theSu Jok Research Institute founder and lecturer of International Su Jok Theraphy Association.
Contact Joad Puttermilech at www.SuJokclub.com, SuJoksri@gmail.com, +131554504331, and in NYC at the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, 32 East 22 Street, New York, NY 10010.