Only babies should drink milk?The whole only babies eat milk is clever play on words but has no bearing in reality. It's not a nature based argument. If you would visit our farm and stay a spell, you would find that the "baby" calves will nurse as long as their mother will let them, which is often well past their fist year. Translated to human years, well into their "adolescence."
What stops nursing is not magical transformation into an adult, but the arrival of a more needy member of the herd, another calf.
Some people cannot digest milkI don't disagree that some people just cannot handle milk, just like some people cannot handle a high fat diet, or wheat, but does this mean that every human on the planet should stop drinking milk? This is what many food purists like the Paleo diet folks want us to believe.
The Paleo philosophy basically eliminates any food except what our hunter-gatherer ancestors could find. This includes all dairy, all grains, and legumes. Essentially, all foods that were developed as civilizations shifted toward the agrarian.
The Masai culture is a milk based cultureThere are cultures who have relied on milk for thousands of years. For example, the traditional Masai culture of nomadic cattle herders is not what we would consider an agrarian culture, yet their diet consists largely of a mixture of cow’s blood and milk. Don't you think 5,000 years or so of living like that is enough to work out the kinks? Should the Masai give up milk?
Innovations in food technology create the cultureFood innovations, created huge leaps forward in civilization. If the choice is bread made from grain stored during the proverbial seven fat years, or starvation during the seven lean years, I know what I would choose.
Plentiful cheap food is a headacheThat's the other interesting anthropological aspect to this whole "what to eat" debate. Until post WWII America, you pretty much ate what you could get your hands on. It's amazing the confusion cheap and plentiful food has created.
That doesn't mean we should keep all foods around, but if I can handle drinking raw milk, or the occasional sourdough bread slathered with grass fed butter with no adverse effects, I'm not going to stop for the benefit of of keeping a philosophy "pure."
Eliminate a food only because it’s bad for youI believe in eliminating a food only because it actually causes damage for an individual and not because of some theoretical threat to human health as a whole. Nature and human nature is too vast and too varied to create simple rules. We need some flexibility in our thinking and generosity in our spirit.
The danger of tunnel thinkingIt's dogmatic tunnel thinking that got us in this nutritional mess in the first place when our government decided we should all eat a low-fat high carb diet. One nutritional size does not fit all. Once we become dogmatic, whether, low-fat, low carb, Paleo, vegan, whatever, we will always do harm to others by insisting everybody follow our path. Remember one person's food is another's poison, or n=1.
Just to be clear, this is NOT and anti-Paleo post. I think Paleo is wonderful and might be the best starting place for figuring out how to nourish your particular metabolism. In fact I'm considering adopting it as the nutritional foundation for my acupuncture practice instead of simply low carb. So you don't have to defend Paleo, but feel free if you wish. ;)
This “chain letter” I actually readA patient sent me one of those chain letters the other day, this one was different however, I actually read it. The email was a reminder of how to recognize that a person is having a stroke, but what caught my attention was that modern science now has a fourth sign for stroke, the tongue.
Tongue diagnosis is part of acupunctureAcupuncturists have been looking at tongues for centuries to gather signs about a person’s health. Has modern medicine caught up. I’ll fill you in a bit. Before I do, please familiarize yourself with the signs of a stroke. You may save someone’s life, or the quality of their life.
3 hours can save a stroke victimNeurologist say that if they can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours, they can usually reverse the effects of a stroke. The trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough because the signs of a stroke are not well recognized.
Stroke is a silent killerSometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. The patient usually has no pain, but feels weak and disoriented, so they may just sit quietly hoping the “episode” will pass.
Why people ignore the warning signsIn fact many people who have strokes have had “mini-strokes” where the symptoms did pass, so these warning signs go unheeded. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.
How to recognize a strokeDoctors say a you can recognize a stroke by asking the patient to perform STR:
- S Ask the individual to SMILE - if the smile is not symmetrical dial 911
- T Ask the person to TALK and repeat a simple sentence i.e. It is sunny out today. - If the person is not coherent, dial 911
- R Ask him or her to RAISE both arms at the same time - if both arms do not go up at the same time, well you know the drill by now, dial 911.
New sign of a stroke: stick out your tongueModern cardiologists have identified a “new” sign of stroke to add to the list. Ask the person to stick out their tongue. If the tongue comes out crooked, the person may be having a stroke.
2000 years looking for crooked tonguesThis “new” sign is thousands of years old. Ancient Chinese acupuncturists grouped a crooked tongue as a sign of “wind stroke” along side of facial paralysis. So while I’m temped to file this under “Duh!” It’s always good to see modern medicine confirm acupuncture’s 2,000 years of experience.
Acupuncture can help after a strokeIf you do find somebody with the symptoms of a stroke, by all means get them to an emergency room as fast as you can. After the acute phase has passed, if there are any lingering symptoms, you may want to consider acupuncture to help recovery and rehab.
Here is a short summary about acupuncture for stroke recovery.
This is a part of a series that explains 5 Element Acupuncture by comparing and contrasting it to modern medicine. In this post we will take a look at the nature of disharmony, or what effect disease has on a person. Modern medicine has pathology and 5 Element Acupuncture has energy imbalances.
Medical pathology was the original CSI MIAMIPathology is the branch of medicine that deals with the laboratory examination of samples of body tissue for diagnostic or forensic purposes. This science starts at the end point and works it’s way backwards to the find cause of the disease, just like a detective investigating a murder starts with a death and works her way backwards to find the murderer.
5 Element Acupuncture begins with the endThe main difference with the way a 5 Element Acupuncturist views the effects of disease is the belief that the beginning of the disease process is the end as well. In 5 Element Acupuncture there is no cascade of cause and effect that leads to death.
Once the energy becomes imbalanced, there is nothing less nor nothing more to do than treat the imbalance. It does not matter if the imbalance is recent and there are no symptoms yet manifest, or if the imbalance is well established and the patient is very ill.
While this sounds incredibly silly and just another bit of oriental circular thinking, one only has to take the simple example of my hop house collapsing to understand how the concept makes perfect sense.
The story of the hop houseI live on an old hop farm in Central New York. At one time, this area was the hops capital of the United States. One of the outbuildings on our farm was the hop house, a specialized structure for drying and packaging hops for sale and shipment. The hop house was build around 1870 and was last used in the 1920’s when the farm was converted to a dairy operation.
Time and weather take their tollOver time, weather wore off the exterior paint, rain began to seep in through holes in the roof. Eventually the siding facing west, the direction of the prevailing winds, started falling down. To the builder’s credit, the hop house held together through many storms, until finally in 2009, a huge gust of wind blew into the hop house and lifted part of roof right off the walls and smashed it about 20 yards away. The hop house died.
What caused the architectural death?If you were an architectural pathologist, the cause of death would have been the gust of wind. You would not be a complete idiot and ignore the damage that allowed the wind to kill the building, but nonetheless, the cause was still the gust of wind.
Putting it all togetherTo understand, the point of the hop house story, you simply have think about cancer. Cancer is like the gust of wind. It’s what finishes the job, but a lot happens before the cancer can get bad enough to kill.
A 5 Element look at architectureIn the 5 Element model, the hops house’s cause of death would be the same imbalance which started the decline in the first place: not the gust of wind, not the west facing siding falling off, not even the leaking roof, the imbalance that started AND ended the life of the hop house was a lack of income generating purpose for the structure.
Identifying the root causeIf at any point in time, the hop house was more than just a gentle reminder of the old days and actually was a source of income, any of its owners, including me, would have spent the $30,000 needed to stabilize the structure or better yet, the building would have been maintained all along.
The power of the energy imbalance conceptThis is the deep power of 5 Element diagnosis -- the power of understanding an energy imbalance, the root cause of a disease. Even if I had secured a state grant to save the hop house. It would have just postponed the ultimate demise. Without a purpose, there was nobody to spend time in the hop house and notice what needed fixing, let alone have the extra money to make the yearly repairs needed.
You don’t need to understand acupuncture to understand energyIt took me three years and a Master’s Degree to understand how energy imbalances play out inside a human being. However, if you use your imagination, you can conjure up a scenario where lack of sleep over many years could cause an energy imbalance. That would weaken the immune system to the point where frequent viral infections could damage the cellular DNA causing cancer, and if unsuccessfully treated, lead to death.
How the beginning becomes the endIn western medicine, the cause of death would be cancer, in 5 Element Acupuncture, the cause of death would be an energy imbalance caused by not following nature’s laws and getting enough sleep. You understand now the beginning is the end and why 5 Element Acupuncturists sound like broken records when it comes to the nature’s basic laws.
One last exampleIndulge me with one last example, an example of growth and not death, the life of an oak tree. To a 5 Element Acupuncturist, an acorn does not become an oak tree, and this is very important, the acorn is the oak tree. A majestic 200 year oak tree is simply, but no less miraculously, an acorn that has unfolded over time.
Why choose 5 Element Acupuncture for your healthIn order to weave silk into a beautiful pattern, you must know what each individual thread is doing. However, if you stay focused on the individual threads, you will never see the pattern that these threads create. By favoring pattern recognition over individual signs and symptoms, 5 Element Acupuncture occupies a unique place in the healthcare universe that sets it apart, not only from Western medicine, but also other forms of acupuncture.
You have choices in acupunctureWe are blessed in this modern age to have lots of choices when it comes to acupuncture, TCM (traditional Chinese Medicine), Japanese Eight Principle, Auricular Acupuncture, Korean Hand Acupuncture, and individual techniques like Dr. Tan’s Balance Method, and the NAET allergy elimination protocol.
Choices can cause confusionThis profusion of styles is also a curse. You now have to educate yourself to make a wise choice. It would take an entire book to explain all the different types of acupuncture, and since I am only an expert in one style, 5 Eement Acupuncture, it would be presumptuous of me to speak for other traditions.
What makes 5 Element Acupuncture uniqueHowever, I can tell you the unique features of 5 Element Acupuncture and the benefits of its approach. If you find yourself bored and uninterested, move on and find another practitioner (or style). However, if you find yourself drawn in and intrigued, schedule yourself a consultation to find out if 5 Element Acupuncture is for you.
A person and her health is not simply a matter of biochemistry, or internal energy flow for that matter. She constantly adjusts and responds to her environment. She also is an expression of her past. Just like thousands of threads are woven together to make a dress, time weaves the physical, mental and spiritual threads of our lives to make us what we are today.
Heart disease as an exampleFor example, let’s take a look at heart disease. In modern medicine, the first sign of heart disease might be raised blood pressure. In response to this finding, a doctor might prescribe several blood pressure medications and advise the patient to exercise, lose weight and make a follow-up visit in 6-12 months.
Similarly, in the TCM acupuncture model, a patient might present with a tight pulse and a tongue that is slightly purple. The TCM practitioner would have a similar response to the Western doctor and use needles and a herbal formula like “Relaxed Wanderer” to ease “liver stagnation” and advise the patient to practice yoga or meditate.
These are essentially the same interventions which address the mechanism of increased blood pressure, but completely ignore how the patient’s past and environment might be influencing her entire quality of life and not just the blood pressure. Put that thought on the shelf. We will come back to it.
Heart disease has many causesA study just came to my attention that linked laughter and heart disease. To a Five Element Acupuncturist this is 2,000 year old news, but it’s always nice to get validated by rigorous modern research. In 5 ELement theory, the heart is associated with the Fire Element whose sound is laughter and whose emotion is joy. Score one for the old Chinese dudes.
The connection between laughter and your heartThe researchers started by asking the patients if the they would laugh if they showed up at a party and someone else was wearing the same outfit. Those who had a sense of humor, were found to be 40% less likely to have markers for heart disease, including high blood pressure.
One could make the case, in fact I am making the case, that the cause of these patients’ heart disease symptoms was a lack of joy in their lives. No joy, no laughter. No laughter, no healthy heart.
If you simply relax the cardiovascular system and reduce the blood pressure, the main cause of stress, a joyless life, is left running rampage through the person’s life and will continue to cause physical damage.
In 5 Element Acupuncture, we are trained to observe a patient’s emotional state as well as their physical state. If we find a person does not laugh easily, we get curious and look for the reasons why. While this may sound like we are trying to be junior psychologists and go all Doctor Phil on our patient’s, you have to take my word that we are not.
The 5 Element system identifies over-arching patternsWhat we are searching for are the patterns that a person’s environment and past have woven into her current health. See, we just took that thought off the shelf. The 5 Element System is a tool for identifying large patterns, the meta-patterns, if you will, that give rise to smaller patterns of disharmony, like high blood pressure, or constrained liver qi.
Treating the overall patternAnybody over the age of 30 has many of these small patterns or symptoms. Trying to address them individually is like trying to use chopsticks to eat a bowl of rice one grain at a time. If you can identify the meta-pattern influencing the person’s life, what 5 Element Acupuncturists call the causative factor, you can then treat the entire landscape of health physical, emotional and spiritual.
The individual rice grain approach is why patients end up with a shelf full of medications if they go to a doctor, or a shelf full of supplements if they see an alternative health practitioner.
Please don’t mistake my drawing distinctions for disdain. I’m not dismissing this approach out of hand. There are times when concentrating on an individual symptom or disease is critical. However, this is not the forte of the 5 Element System. An individual practitioner may have an expertise in an area, but she has created that expertise outside the 5 Element System. For example, I have an acupuncturist friend, Greg Lee, who is an expert in treating Lyme Disease. He uses the 5 Element System, but has also collected other techniques from various disciplines to focus on helping people with this terrible disease.
The non-curious war against hand washingCan you imagine any doctor laughing at hand washing as superstition. Well, when hand washing was introduced as a way to save lives during childbirth, the physician was ridiculed so harshly he spent his last day in an asylum. A long time ago Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis noticed that there were a lot less deaths in birthing hospitals run by midwives.
Doctors are too important to waste their time washing upAt the time, in doctor’s hospitals, medical students would interrupt their very important lessons performing autopsies, run upstairs with filth covered aprons, blood covered hands and deliver a baby without washing up. It was a miracle any baby or mother survived the filth!
Trust me, I’m a doctorThe hospital muckity-mucks refused to believe there was any connection and laughed at the “invisible forces” that were supposedly causing these deaths. Time, as it usually does, sorts these things out, and some bright and curious scientists discovered germs. Now we fire doctors who don’t wash their hands.
The same old, same oldAcupuncturist face the same close mindedness as Dr. Semmelweis did 150 years ago. Acupuncture does not make sense based on our current understanding of anatomy and physiology. When something new, like acupuncture comes along, curious people do what they do, experiment and play, and the non-curious do what they do, complain that the curious are wasting their time and the taxpayers money that should be better spent on the boring research that the non-curious people are doing.
How non-curious scientists dismiss acupunctureThe non-curious scientists simply dismiss acupuncture as placebo - it works because the patient wants it to work. From a clinician’s point of view, you don’t really care so much why the patient gets better, just as long as they do, and you can reliably repeat the process. For a researcher, however, placebo is the kiss of death and places acupuncture in the realm of give the kid a cookie to stop him from crying.
Acupuncture is forcing a new frontier in physiologyI’ve always believed that the scientific explanation for acupuncture will push our understanding of how the body works and will reveal some completely novel mechanisms inside the human body.
Sound waves activate your immune systemColumbia University and Hong Kong University are proving me right. They have discovered a new mechanism in the body where white blood cells are activated by sound waves. The researches pulsed the needle with an electric current which generated an acoustic shear wave. Then using a souped up MRI, they watched the sound wave activate intracellular calcium which in turn activated white blood cells and pain and mood modulating endorphins.
Location, location, locationWhile the sound wave phenomenon is pretty cool, I might have to stop making fun of the people who use tuning forks on acupuncture points, the coolest thing about the study is what the researches discovered about acupuncture point location.
If they missed the acupuncture point by as much as one centimeter, the intensity of the sound wave was cut in half. This is why feeling the “qi” sensation is so important in 5 Element Acupuncture. Without super accurate point location, you have to use many more needles to get the same effect as one that is carefully placed.
So there you have it, another breakthrough in medicine courtesy of acupuncture. It’s amazing what you discover when you look at a problem from a fresh perspective. Keep an open mind and try to keep a beginners mind. Ask the “stupid” questions like “how does acupuncture work.” You never know what you will discover.
This is the abstract to the paper. It’s super geeky so don’t feel bad if you don’t have a clue what they are saying.
This article presents a novel model of acupuncture physiology based on cellular calcium activation by an acoustic shear wave (ASW) generated by the mechanical movement of the needle.
An acupuncture needle was driven by a piezoelectric transducer at 100 Hz or below, and the ASW in human calf was imaged by magnetic resonance elastography. At the cell level, the ASW activated intracellular Ca2+ transients and oscillations in fibroblasts and endothelial, ventricular myocytes and neuronal PC-12 cells along with frequency–amplitude tuning and memory capabilities.
Monitoring in vivo mammalian experiments with ASW, enhancement of endorphin in blood plasma and blocking by Gd3+ were observed; and increased Ca2+ fluorescence in mouse hind leg muscle was imaged by two-photon microscopy.
In contrast with traditional acupuncture models, the signal source is derived from the total acoustic energy. ASW signaling makes use of the anisotropy of elasticity of tissues as its waveguides for transmission and that cell activation is not based on the nervous system.
This is a part of a series that explains 5 Element Acupuncture by comparing and contrasting it to modern medicine. In this post we will take a look at the causes of disease. Because our ultimate goal is to come away with a better understanding of the assumptions that inform 5 Element Acupuncture, and the title promises this will be short, we are going to limit our discussion to the causes of disease from the Western medicine to germs and toxins.
Western medicine looks for outside causes of diseaseAbout five years ago I was sitting in on a lecture on the coming epidemic of lung cancer in China. The darkened room was silent as the researcher went through his slides. It was like that moment in a horror movie when you know something really bad is going to happen and you are powerless to do anything about it. The researcher’s name was Tom Kensler, a Doctor of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
According to Kensler, (who by the way, is a graduate of Hamilton College) the main force driving this oncoming epidemic was not the huge amount of pollution in the newly industrialized cities of China, but the overwhelming number of men who smoke.
Dr. Kensler was hired by the Chinese to help them figure out how many more clinics and hospitals they would have to build in order to handle the coming wave of lung cancer.
Do you know what the second leading cause of cancer is?Interestingly, the second leading cause of cancer worldwide, behind cigarette smoking is not environmental toxins, but viruses. Simply catching a cold can expose us to germs which can attack the DNA of cells and cause them to grow uncontrollably. In a distant third place are environmental causes like chemical spills and air pollution.
It seems our fear of getting cancer has been misplaced and we should be most concerned about keeping our immune system in high gear, which brings us finally back to 5 Element Acupuncture.
How internal harmony protects your healthIn contrast to modern medicine, the ancient Chinese idea of disease was focused as much on the body’s ability to prevent getting sick as it was on what was causing the illness in the first place. The original acupuncture texts explain that if a person is in complete harmony, they are impervious to any disease and will never get sick and live to a very old age.
How shingles is cause by a lack of internal harmonyFor example, most of us are infected with the herpes virus at a young age when we get chicken pox. In most cases, after we recover, the virus lies dormant for years occasionally coming out as a cold sore. For some unfortunate souls however, their internal harmony gets disrupted. They become weakened and the herpes virus fights its way through the body’s impaired immune system and the person comes down with a very painful attack of shingles.
It’s really a very simple concept. When the forces of the body are aligned and harmonious, we are much less likely to get sick. One of the beauties of acupuncture, and the 5 Element style in particular, is the focus it places on mental and emotional harmony as well as physical harmony.
How Western medicine is catching up to the concept of internal harmonyIt was not until the field of psychoneuroimmunology developed, did modern medicine begin to take a close look at the link between a person’s mental state and their immune system. It turns out, to no one’s surprise, that unhappy people are more likely to get sick.
5 Element Acupuncture is based on internal harmonyIn the 5 Element system, we almost exclusively look at a patients internal harmony. If a person is smoking we obviously council him to stop, but in treatment we do not concern ourselves as much with the specific damage smoking is doing, we focus rather on the internal disharmony that led to smoking in the first place.
Until the original disharmony is resolved, smoking on some level is balancing the person. That’s why quitting is so hard for some. Lighting up actually makes the person feel better and function better. The problem in this case is the cure is also likely to kill.
Why Aunt Sally never got lung cancerTheoretically, a completely healthy and balanced person could smoke her entire life and not succumb to any sort of lung disease. In fact, we all have heard stories of some distant Aunt who smokes all her life and died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 101.
I’m not advocating smoking like Aunt Sally, but to simply focus on the cause of disease to the exclusion of the internal disharmony that allows it to take root, is folly.
Western medicine looks at the physical body through anatomy. If you’ve ever gone through the bargain section of Barnes and Nobles you will always find an over sized anatomy book with spectacular illustrations of the various organs and systems of the body. These book usually start with the bones and work their way through the various systems and their organs until they reach the skin and hair.
How the art advanced western medicineWhat you may not know is the basis of this understanding is founded on the work of Italian Renaissance painters. These truly dedicated artists felt were obsessed with realism. In order to create the most realistic representation of the human body, they started hanging around morgues and would purchase unclaimed bodies and began to develop the art of dissection.
The results were truly spectacular. What you see is a representation of the body done in wax.
Why the Chinese never dissected cadaversBy comparison, the Chinese, despite their advanced technology, never detailed the human body the way the Italian Artists did. I’m not just playing up Chinese technology because I’m an acupuncturist.
The Chinese invented paper, gunpowder, silk and had a fleet of massive trading ships that dwarfed the small 15th century vessels making their way around the Mediterranean Sea. There is even some archeological evidence suggesting that the Chinese sailed a fleet of these massive wooden ships around the world before Columbus discovered the New World.
So the question must be answered, “Why didn’t the Chinese develop a detailed Western style anatomy.” The fundamental basis for this curious state of affairs is based on one of the major Chinese religions. The Cunfuscian belief that one cannot enter heaven unless a person’s body is physically intact influenced the entire Chinese culture.
For example, the eunuchs who managed many of the day-to-day affairs of the royal palace, carried their testicles in a box al all times to ensure that if they died, they would be allowed entrance into the afterlife. So while there may have been Chinese who yearned to explore the body as did the Italians, they were culturally restrained.
Why antique Chinese medical drawings look like children’s workSo when you look at a 18th century Chinese medical depiction of the human body, it would be easy to dismiss it as primitive and crude, and in some ways it was.
How acupuncture influenced Chinese medicineThe second factor involved in the development of Chinese anatomy was acupuncture. The physical basis of acupuncture rests in perceived channels that act like waterways to carry energy throughout the body. Unlike bones and blood and blood vessels which are visible, the meridians do not reveal themselves when the body is dissected. Like the invisible wind, the presence of meridians is understood by the effect they have on the body.
Many of today’s critics of acupuncture base their arguments on the ethereal nature of the meridians, but in fact there is a bit of research that suggests there might be some type of physical organization that parallels the meridians.
How to make sense of acupuncture meridians and pointsThanks to modern electricity, understanding the meridians is as simple at looking at the electrical wires in your house. The meridians combine to make a circuit that connects and powers all aspects of your body, mind and spirit. When the meridians themselves, or the connections between them, are compromised, the body’s function diminishes.
For example, when lightning knock out electricity on my farm, we can still cook on the gas stove, but out water is shut off because we use a pump to draw water from our well.
Throughout the house there are electrical junction boxes where the electricity comes to the surface and powers an appliance. To continue our analogy at the risk of stretching it to the breaking point, these junction boxes are roughly the same as the acupuncture points.
How acupuncture points are usedThere 365 traditional points on the body and hundreds of “extra” points. The 365 points mirror the days of the year and reflect a symmetry that at one point was central to acupuncture, but has since faded from memory.
There are points whose indications are very basic such as shoulder pain. There are other points that have more of a physiological influence such as to turn an inverted fetus, or relieve constipation. And then there are points whose purpose can only be understood within the 5 Element paradigm. The purpose of these points is to balance energy within the body. For example, there is a point used to transfer energy from the water element to the fire element.
How does a 5 Element acupuncturist choose what points to use?Patients often ask, “How do you know what points to use?” Unlike in western medicine where you are giving a specific medication for a specific symptom, for example, with back pain a typical prescription cocktail would include, a pain pill, an ant-inflammatory, and a muscle relaxer. By contrast, in selecting a point or points to use for a patient with back pain, I would identify the patient’s causative factor element, the specific meridian involved and the nature of the imbalance of the meridian, I would then select a point(s) to mobilize the body’s own repair mechanisms. (5 Element Acupuncture has a governing principle called the “Law of Least Action” which state that the most powerful treatments use the fewest needles possible.)
Farm raised salmon was a breakthrough in sustainable fishing technology. These salmon are raised in huge salt water “ containment farms.” Because the fish are not free to roam about and catch their own food, they are fed. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, garbage in, garbage out.
Modern food growers measure output in terms of volume, not quality, and their profitability depends on keeping costs low. Fish are not particularly picky eaters, so they will eat just about anything. As long as the fish weighs enough at harvest, the farmer is happy. Of course the salmon comes out looking like a pale imitation of its wild cousin, so the farmers are allowed by the FDA to add a little food coloring so the difference is not quite as stark.
The point of this rant is food t’ain’t what it used to be. Today’s food is often a pale shadow of the nutrient dense, life sustaining goods our grandparents were raised on, the problem isn’t just isolated to salmon.
Think about all the food we eat that comes from confined animals, beef, pork, turkey, chicken, eggs, and dairy for starters. For you vegans who are shouting, “I told you so,” right about now, fruits and veggies aren’t much better, but that’s a different rant.
Not too long ago, food used to be part of the local economy. There weren’t any leviathan meat packing ships sailing from Australia. There weren’t any massive feed lots in Texas. There weren’t any mega-swine farms in South Carolina.
Milk came from small farms and was gently pasteurized at 140 degrees which kills most of the bacteria the government is so worried about, but does not destroy many of the enzymes that aid in digestion.
Think about this. If milk is this undigestible disease producing substance, how do babies (of all species) with their weak and immature digestive systems manage to survive? Babies survive because milk, as Mother Nature intended, contains the enzymes needed for digestion. It’s the modern production of milk that’s the problem, not the milk itself. This holds true for so many foods today.
At this point, I must declare a bias. Because of the tireless work of my wife and in-laws on our 30 acre farm, in many ways I live old fashioned pastoral life. The American dream at the time of the Civil War, was “Five acres and a mule.” I’m living that dream, large! We have a small herd of American Milking Devons for beef and milk, a flock of chickens for fresh eggs, and a huge vegetable garden which keeps us supplied all year.
We know what our animals eat. We know the condition of our soil. We know the how pests are controlled in our garden. We see and taste the difference between an egg that was laid a few hours ago and the store bought organic egg that was laid by a confined hen and refrigerated for a week or more.
We cannot turn back the hands of time, but we must continue to push forward by insisting that food we eat is high quality. This means spending extra money on groceries if you can. Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. Try out the different farmers at your local farmers’ markets. See who grows the most nutritious food. Nature has made that easy, the best food is also the tastiest. Spend the few extra bucks to buy the wild salmon instead of the farm raised.
Change will come from the bottom up, one dollar at a time. Remember, food companies are chasing your dollar, and like a hungry dog, will follow you wherever you lead it.
Contrasting modern medicine with acupunctureModern medicine focuses almost exclusively on cellular function. When a disease or condition is identified, modern medicine zooms in on the cellular level. For example, let’s look a depression. One way modern medicine looks at mood is via a hormone called seretonin. Depression is viewed as a deficiency of this hormone available to brain cells.
How drugs, and their side-effects, are developedOnce this function of brain cells to latch on to seretonin and the ensuing effect on mood, was identified, a class of drugs called selective seretonin uptake inhibitors (SSI’s) were invented. Prozac is a popular SSI. This approach produces very powerful drugs that can work miracles. The problem, however, is that these powerful drugs have powerful side effects. By drilling down to a specific chemical reaction amongst specific cells, awareness of the entire system is lost. For example, Prozac almost always lifts a person out of depression, but in some poor souls, it also creates suicidal thoughts.
Acupuncture physiology is based on understanding of the Chinese royal court5 Element Acupuncture, on the other hand, uses a less precise understanding of the body’s functioning that is more resilient to intervention and leads to fewer, and often no, side effects. The model of functioning that the Chinese developed more than 2000 years ago was a metaphor based on the Chinese Royal Court.
Why the Chinese court is more like a rival mob families than a happy communeAs 5 Element Acupuncturists, we speak of 12 officials who are charged with managing the various aspects of bodily functions. There harmonious function leads, as an ancient acupuncture text state, to a “state of health that impervious to disease” A lovely image comes to mind of cooperation and respect, but in reality, the Chinese court was much more like rival mob families during a truce. Beneath the surface is a dynamic tension between powerful forces that keeps the entire system in balance.
All disease occurs because we have strayed from Nature’s LawsIn the body, when one official get weakened because we fail to follow Nature’s laws, the entire balance is threatened and makes the kingdom of the body vulnerable to internal collapse and invasion from the outside.
For example, let’s go back to our choice of depression. In 5 Element Acupuncture, depression is classified as a “lack of joy.” There are four officials who influence joy, but for our discussion, we will focus on the Heart Protector. On the emotional level, the Heart Protector is in charge of our expression of joy. If the Heart Protector is weakened, joy cannot be generated.
Once an acupuncturist identifies the Heart Protector as central to the patient’s lack of joy, he will select points along the Heart Protector Meridian to rebuild the integrity of the Heart Protector. The acupuncturist may also prescribe some fun physical activity such as Zumba classes to further strengthen the functioning of the Heart Protector. Studies have shown that exercise has a powerful affect on mood.
Below is a simplified table of the 12 officials, their “job” title, and the main function they perform in the body.
|Heart:||The Supreme Controller||Maintains order|
|Small Intestine:||Sorter of the pure from the Impure||Separate waste from usable material and send it to be eliminated|
|Bladder:||The Banker||Manages fluids|
|Kidney:||The minister who does energetic work and excels through ability and cleverness||Stores the essences|
|Heart Protector:||Minister of the center who guides the subjects in joys and pleasures||Protects access to the heart|
|Triple Warmer:||Minister of waterways for warmth and connections||Manages adaptation to the environment|
|Gall Bladder:||The minister of upright judgement and decision making||Ability to discern reality|
|Liver:||The general who excels in strategic planning||Governs the smooth flow of energy|
|Lung:||Prime Minister||Receiver of the breaths of heaven|
|Colon:||Minister of elimination||Removes the dregs from digestion|
|Stomach:||Minister in charge of rotting and ripening||Prepares food to be transformed into energy|
|Spleen:||Minister in charge transformation and transportation||Distributes nourishment throughout the body|