Jill's List Blog
Please help us spread the word about a fantastic job opening for a Stress Reduction Group Leader at the Cheng and Tsui Center for Integrative Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston. BIDMC is one of the nation’s preeminent academic medical centers. Ranked each year as a “Best Hospital” by U.S. News & World Report in multiple specialties, BIDMC is a fully integrated medical center, providing adult care, with over 1,250 full-time staff, virtually all of whom are faculty at Harvard Medical School.
The Cheng and Tsui Center for Integrative Care partners with primary care providers at Healthcare Associates to provide integrative therapies within a primary care setting. Their services complement the care patients receive from their primary care providers at BIDMC Healthcare Associates. The center offers options for healing by offering established practices from around the world alongside exceptional modern medicine.
Details for the Stress Reduction Group Leader position can be found by following the link HERE.
Beyond the perception of our five senses, emanating from the spiritual belt of the universe, a subtle phenomenon awaits popularity and awareness at large. Most of us are still unacquainted with this celestial energy called White Light. White Light Meditation is unique in that it helps manifest our dreams and aspirations by empowering the thoughts, stimulating analytical thinking, magnifying and expressing dormant capabilities, and attracting the necessary resources from known and unknown directions. In this article I shall talk about a simple and short meditation for the purpose of manifestation, called white light meditation. This meditation does not require any initiation or expertise.
Every time we have a particular thought or wish, we create a new process of subtle energy that has the potential to become a fact, an event in the tangible world. White light empowers our thoughts with divine will, and transforms the higher frequencies of our abstract thoughts into frequencies of the concrete physical world, thus manifesting them as real life incidents.
- Find a quiet place where you can carry out this meditation. Sit cross-legged (padmasan) on the floor or sit on a chair.
- Keep your palms at the knees, facing upwards. Relax all your muscles.
- Close your eyes, breathe normally, and stay calm.
- Mentally invite the divine white light to bless and manifest your thoughts and wishes.
- Visualize a broad beam of white light falling on the crown of your head, entering your head, and accumulating at the third eye. The third eye, is the subtle energy point located between the brows. It controls our sensitivity and receptiveness of the spiritual realms of the universe.
- Visualize the circular patch of white light at your third eye. Now, project your thoughts and wishes on it – things that you want to accomplish and achieve in life, for yourself and for others! Visualize them running like a movie on the circular screen of white light. Watch them happen as if they were happening for real. See yourself healthy, happy, accomplishing, getting rewarded, recovering from ailments, finding peace and love, whatever it might be that you are looking for in life.
- Keep watching for at least ten to fifteen minutes. Then cover the entire visual with a layer of the divine light, visualizing the white light spread all over it like white mist. Mentally affirm that your wishes are fulfilled and end you meditation.
There is no specific time to do White Light Meditation. However, avoid doing it right after a meal. If you practice white light meditation for fifteen minutes visualizing the same wishes every day, you are likely to find significant changes in your thoughts, surroundings, events, and resources crucial to the fulfillment of your purpose!
Remember, fifteen minutes a day can shape your life your way!
Sunetra Basu is a Reiki Master Teacher and author. She teaches Reiki courses, meditation and provides Reiki healing for diseases, negative conditions, problems and relationships. Everyone is welcome to seek her services and to join her in her spiritual pursuits! If you wish to know more, please refer to her book White Light Meditation – Manifest Your Dreams and Aspirations.
Ingredients; 14 to 16 oz. firm tofu, 1 tsp. salt, 3 tbsp. canola oil, ½ cup thinly sliced shallots, 1 large garlic clove (finely chopped), 8 fresh curry leaves (optional), 1½ teaspoons curry powder, preferably Madras, 1 can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk, ½ cup thinly sliced canned bamboo shoots, (drained and rinsed), 3 tsp. packed shaved light palm sugar or light brown sugar, 5 small heads baby bok choy (cut crosswise into 1-in. pieces), 1 teaspoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce, 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as mint, cilantro, Thai basil, or Vietnamese coriander
Directions: Cut tofu into 16 rectangles. Place tofu in a wide, shallow bowl. Mix 1 tsp. salt with 2 cups very hot or just-boiled water and pour over tofu to just cover. Let sit 15 minutes. Transfer tofu to a double layer of paper towels set on a plate and let drain 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. oil in a medium nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Fry shallots, stirring occasionally, until light golden, 9 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and curry leaves and fry 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until light and crisp. Add curry powder and remove from heat. Stir to aromatize spices. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer seasonings to a bowl, leaving most of fragrant oil in pan. Blot tofu dry. Add more oil to pan, if needed, to film bottom and heat to medium-high. Fry tofu, turning once, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Lower heat slightly and return all but 1 tbsp. shallot mixture to pan. Add coconut milk, bamboo shoots, and palm sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add bok choy and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Gently stir in fish sauce. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with herbs and rest of shallots. Serve with rice.
Adapted from Andrea Nguyen’s recipe on myrecipes.com
There’s a philosophical movement making its way across the globe, known as New Thought. The underlying tenet of this thought system is that we each create our own reality and are therefore responsible for whatever shows up in our lives.
The term “New Thought” is actually deceiving – there is nothing new at all about this way of thinking. Many spiritual and cultural traditions teach the idea of our outer life being a reflection, or mirror, of our inner life. We all agree with the basic idea of life giving back to us what we put out (“Do unto others,” what goes around comes around, etc.), but we don’t take it much further than that. New Thought does.
In a nutshell, the idea in New Thought is that everything you experience in your outer world is a reflection of your own inner thoughts and belief systems. Everything. Keeping an open mind for a moment, think about it. Do you know someone who just seems to attract crisis after crisis? Or someone who’s just always lucky? Haven’t you ever wondered why that is?
None of us likes to think of being responsible for everything that shows up in our lives -the idea itself seems cruel, to say the least. Obviously, there are limits to how far you are going to take any idea, and every great philosophical and/or spiritual system has its abusers, too. No-one should ever be told that their suffering is all their fault. But that’s not what this is about.
This New Thought way of thinking, or “mirror thinking,” is meant to be empowering, not debilitating; that is, if we are, on some level, responsible for everything in our lives, then that means there must also be a way we can change what happens to us.
Research on the human brain is fascinating. One of the things that they have found through researching the process of meditative visualization is that at a certain level of consciousness, the brain can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined. That is a fantastic statement. Studies have been done of athletes, for example, who trained “in their heads” (in a meditative setting) and were compared to others who trained in the “real world,” and there was surprisingly little difference – including in actual muscular development- between the two groups.
All of us are constantly sending ourselves subconscious messages, and most of them are repeated thousands of times throughout the day. These messages, to a large degree, paint how we see the world. If we “see” ourselves as ugly (i.e., repeatedly tell ourselves that we are ugly), no matter how much weight we lose, clothes we buy, or plastic surgery we have, we are still going to see only ugly. Anorexics and bulimics are case in point – but anorexics and bulimics are no more pathological than any of the rest of us, because we all do it.
Alternatively, think of those people who just always seem happy, and, no matter what happens in their life, they’re always positive – to the point of being annoying to a lot of the rest of us. They, like the girl with bulimia, are also telling themselves something, but their message is positive and so the reflection in their life is also positive.
I have a friend who was raised in a strong Christian family. She is one of those people who just loves life, and, looking in from the outside, everything always seems to just fall into place for her. Her sister, on the other hand, always seems to be in the middle of some tragedy – heart-wrenching, awful experiences that no-one would wish on anyone. One day, the three of us were chatting, and the subject of God came up. My friend described the God of her childhood as a loving, forgiving, happy “parent.” Her sister, to our amazement, described the God of her childhood (same parents, same upbringing) as a mean, egotistical, and cruel dictator. One doesn’t need much of an imagination to picture what kind of world each perceived themselves living in (as children) – even though, from the outside, their world was very much the same.
It all boils down to perception. When we perceive good things around us, we attract more good things into our lives – the catch is in the definition of “good.” Someone who always perceives “good” always perceives good- they don’t see the break-up or the bankruptcy or the job loss as bad but as an opportunity for something good to happen, and that, then, is exactly what ends up happening. Just as a little girl who is happy and friendly (i.e., perceives the world as a good place) won’t attract mean bullies as friends, so it is with us as adults. We attract into our lives what we perceive. If we perceive life as good, we attract good. If we perceive life as lacking, we attract lack. If we see ourselves as broke, we continue to be broke.
This type of thinking is empowering, because it teaches us that we can change our reality – that doesn’t mean the objective reality is necessarily going to change much (although I would argue that it will, eventually), but our experience of it will. That person who drives you crazy because they’re so over-controlling is actually a mirror of a part of you that controls – it has to be, otherwise it probably wouldn’t bother you. Think about the man who swears he’ll never be like his dad and ends up just like him – why? Because what he hated in his dad was in him all along, but he didn’t look for it. Change what’s in you, and what’s outside of you changes.
Life is good – or bad – or neither. It is what it is, and what it is, is exactly what we make. We can choose to continue to see life as beyond our control, or we can develop a spiritual practice to start changing our internal messages and create something better. Perhaps John Milton said it best in “Paradise Lost”: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
Clare Mallory graduated in 2002 with a master’s degree in Acupuncture from the Northwest Institute of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and is board certified through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She has worked as a licensed acupuncturist in Washington, Colorado, Israel, and Mississippi. Clare is one of the few licensed acupuncturists in the State of Missisippi and currently the only one north of Jackson. While Clare focuses on pregnancy care/prebirth acupuncture and chronic pain, she has had significant experience in many other areas and sees clients with numerous different issues, particularly pain management, stress/depression/anxiety, gynecological issues, autoimmune conditions, and edocrinological conditions (hormones). Clare’s primary clinic is in Columbus, Mississippi, and she also practices in Saltillo, MS. You can visit Clare’s personal website HERE.
Nearly everyone has heard about probiotics. There is research that supports their use to ease digestive problems such as diarrhea, H. pylori and bloating; to boost immunity against colds, flu and common respiratory infections; to reduce cholesterol levels; and to reduce atopic eczema, allergies and asthma. If there is one natural supplement doctors are recommending these days, it is a well-sourced probiotic. Some of the most well researched strains are bacteria Bifidobaceterium and the Lactobacillus family, as well as the yeast species Saccharomyces boulardii.
What We Know About Probiotics
Elie Metchnikoff is considered the “father of probiotics,” as he proposed in the early 20th century that ingesting microorganisms could be beneficial to human health. In the writing, The Prolongation of Life: Optimistic Studies, Metchnikoff wrote what science now knows to be true. There are numerous strains of beneficial bacteria that populate both the digestive tract and skin of a healthy human being. In fact, scientists now propose that there are more microorganisms than human cells by a factor of ten to one.
These beneficial bacteria are believed to hold some important jobs in our overall health. They reduce the number of harmful microorganisms, such as Clostridium difficile and Candida albicans, from overpopulating the skin or infecting the digestive tract. In addition, beneficial bacteria are believed to produce compounds that stimulate the body’s own immune response. This allows for proper immune development and maturity. The digestive tract contains the GALT, gut-associated lymphoid tissue, which accounts for over 70% of the human immune system. One other major factor that we now recognize about microorganisms is they communicate with, and influence, human gene activity and expression.
When looking to purchase probiotics from the store there are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Pick ones stored in the refrigerator
- Get a mix of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, the former is for the small intestine and the later is for the colon
- S. boulardii is most specific for traveling and preventing traveler’s diarrhea (this one does not need to be refrigerated)
- Get brands which list the entire species name out, so instead of just Lactobacillus, it should say for example Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
- Adults should take 10B as maintenance, children 3-5B organisms per serving as maintenance
Food As Medicine: Beyond Supplements
How did humans acquire probiotics before the advent of modern supplements? Food! Humans have been making fermented foods since antiquity, and while some individuals might propose this was due to a lack of electricity for refrigerators or freezers, we are now beginning to see the direct benefits of fermented foods providing beneficial bacteria to our guts. For instance, the Lactobacillus family is in the lactic acid bacteria group. They convert lactose and other sugars into lactic acid. Fermented foods are rich in lactic acid and the Lactobacillus family of bacteria.
The list of fermented foods is numerous. Investigate a local co-op or the natural foods section of the local grocery store to learn more.
Dr. Maggie Luther, ND practices holistic and integrative medicine in both Boston and Milford, MA. Dr. Luther is a professionally trained Naturopathic Doctor working to help people not only live a symptom free life, but also a life in which they are preventing future chronic disease. Dr. Luther focuses on the individual and treats the whole person. The goal always being to uncover the root cause of disease. Dr. Luther is passionate about helping you feel better. In addition, Dr. Luther is a Craniosacral Therapist and uses this to help alleviate physical, mental and emotional complaints. Click HERE to visit her personal website.
Ingredients; 1 cup water, ½ cup uncooked quinoa, 2 cups coconut flour, 1/3 cup chopped pecans (toasted), 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon salt, 2/3 cup milk of choice, ¼ cup agave, 1 large egg, ½ cup chopped dried apricots, cooking spray
Directions; Preheat oven to 400°. Rinse quinoa. Combine 1 cup water and quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork, and set aside. Combine coconut flour and next 4 ingredients in a bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, agave, and egg in a separate bowl, stirring well. Add milk mixture, quinoa, and apricots to dry ingredients; stir just until moist. Spoon batter into muffin pans coated with cooking spray. Fill cups half way. Bake at 400 for 12 minutes. Remove pans immediately and cool.
Adapted from health.com
Going gluten free does not mean you have to go hungry. In fact, when eating gluten free you might enjoy the increased quality of the food you are eating! Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat, barley, and rye. Many people are allergic or sensitive to gluten without knowing it. The protein can offset a host of different symptoms that one might not have guessed would be food related. Headaches, skin rashes, mood swings, and poor attention could all be attributed to a gluten reaction. If you have a chronic illness, gluten could be aggravating the situation. Why not remove it for a week and see how you feel?
More and more grocery stores are beginning to have dedicated sections for the wheat withdrawers and it is getting increasingly common to find a gluten free menu at any old restaurant. Not sure where to start? Here are several gluten free options to keep in mind and in your kitchen.
Fruits & Veggies: Eating unprocessed food is not only better for your health, it keeps you eating gluten free without effort. All vegetables and fruit are gluten free. Eat a variety of colors, and try to include as many leafy greens as you can.
Nuts: They make a great snack, are packed full of nutrients, and easy to travel with. Any nut can be used to make substitute flours and milks. Not only are they tasty and versatile, but they are wonderful for you. Nuts contain healthy fats, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and vitamins.
Seeds: The list of benefits from seeds seems to go on and on. Recorded benefits include lowering cholesterol, maintaining healthy arteries, improving mood, and reducing inflammation. Seeds contain high levels of protein, healthy fats, and nutrients. Of course the advantages vary from seed to seed, but they all have multiple nutritional benefits and add a satisfying crunch and a variety of flavor.
Rice: A lot of people ask if rice is gluten free. Yes it is! Those who are super sensitive to gluten must make sure there is a gluten free label on the bag, though, because it very may well have been processed on the same equipment as wheat (applies to all packaged food).
Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a healthy alternative to many sugary gluten-filled cereals. You can dress it up with chia seeds, nuts, or berries. To give it some sweetness, try a tablespoon of peanut butter or a dab of local raw honey.
Quinoa: Quinoa is a healthy alternative to any grain. Actually not a grain at all, Quinoa is a seed from South America that is a complete protein unto itself. It contains all 9 essential amino acids and twice the fiber of most grains. You prepare it just like rice except it fluffs up in half the time. What is there not to like? It comes in white, red, and black.
Buckwheat: Buckwheat is another alternative “grain” that is not actually a grain, but a fruit! Although it has wheat in the name, there is no relation. It is an excellent alternative to oatmeal and can be included in breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Tortillas: Although wheat tortillas are a staple at lunchtime for some, there are other alternatives for your wraps. Try a corn, rice, or coconut flour based tortilla.
Potatoes: If you are craving a starch, potatoes are a great option. There are many varieties beyond the typical russet and they come in many different colors. Check out your local farmers market. Sweet potatoes are another great option and the natural flavor helps curb sugar cravings!
Pasta: There are many gluten free pastas to choose from. You can find rice noodles at any big grocery store. If they don’t have Italian style rice noodles, try the Asian section. Some gluten free pastas combine quinoa , corn, and amaranth to make a hardy noodle that tastes almost like wheat when cooked thoroughly.
Coconut: Coconut is gluten free and hypoallergenic. The oil of the coconut can be used to substitute any other oil. In fact, not only does it have wonderful health benefits nutritionally, it is also wonderful for the skin and can be applied topically as a moisturizer. Culinary uses range from baking to stir -fries. The milk and butter of the coconut can substitute any of its dairy counterparts. Dehydrated and powdered coconut meat converts into a fabulous gluten free flour that tastes sweet and is packed with fiber.
Wheat Free Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is one of the many condiments that contain gluten even though you would not suspect it. Most Asian restaurants are using soy sauce that contains wheat, but as gluten consciousness is spreading, some are beginning to carry the wheat free alternative. Ask your local restaurant if they might be willing to provide a bottle, or bring your own.
Rebecca Speert is a Holistic Health and Wellness Coach. She works with clients one on one to help them create and achieve their nutritional and lifestyle goals. Sessions are offered in Irvine and San Clemente, California as well as on the phone. A free 50-minute health consultation is available upon request. Contact Rebecca through her website HERE.
THE CHRONIC PAIN CYCLE
Pain affects your life. Your sleep, mood, activity, and energy level are all disrupted by pain. Being tired, depressed, and out of shape makes the pain worse and harder to cope with. So a “pain cycle” begins.The pain cycle is a complex chain of events which reinforce each other and can lead from one to the next in a continuous loop. It often begins with injury or illness, but each element, especially stress, can add to or even start the cycle.
NATURAL PAIN RELIEVERS
Release your inner endorphins and break the cycle of pain. These natural chemicals block pain signals from reaching your brain. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain relievers, and they can be as strong as many of the strongest pain relievers. Endorphins also help alleviate anxiety, stress and depression — conditions that often accompany and exacerbate chronic pain.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TOUCH
Touch acts on the nervous system to counteract the stress response, relaxing muscle tension and allowing heart rate, blood pressure and circulation to return toward normal. Touch helps the body heal and renews emotional reserves. To the extent that touch interrupts the pain cycle, even temporarily, it reduces stress by giving a person some control over his or her situation.
Touch also helps you become aware of unconsciously held tension and how it feels to relax. This helps you recognize and release tension before it creates a problem. Finally allowing someone else to give you the care and comfort of nurturing touch can give you much needed emotional support in a time of stress.
When it comes to speaking out for the clinical importance of touch, Deepak Chopra, M.D. has few peers. As he talks about how rich in hormones and biologically active the skin is, he explains that, “when we stimulate the skin, we can cause, literally, a shower of healing chemicals into our blood stream.”
In Molecules of Emotion, Dr. Pert details how her neurochemistry research and a host of other events led her to the realization that “our emotions and our biochemistry are part of one continuous information loop that accounts for how we feel and how mind-body medicine works.”
You perceive pain when your body releases chemicals that stimulate nerves to send out pain messages to the brain. These are difficult – and dangerous – to ignore. Always look for and seek to treat the root cause of your pain. Research suggests that touch stimulates release of natural pain relievers such as endorphins. Touch can also reduce the grip of pain as you focus on the pleasant sensation of relaxation. Data indicates that touch promotes relaxation, alleviates the perception of pain and anxiety in patients and decreases pain intensity. The effectiveness of touch lies in a simple and direct strategy: working from the external, outer mechanisms of pain to the primary, root cause.
People employing caring, nurturing touch for pain management utilize a holistic approach, focusing on the entire body system and its relationship to soft tissue. Their care isn’t focused only on the site of pain.
Touch not only helps relieve muscle and other soft tissue pain, but also has an impact on the recipient by virtue of healthy, caring human touch. This is especially pronounced for women facing mastectomies and dealing with the outcomes of that surgery. Caring touch helps them feel comfortable once again with their bodies.
One touch can soothe, comfort and convey caring in a way words never can. Touching has the power to heal, connect us, and ease pain. It also lessens anxiety and softens the blows of life. The simple act of touching is so powerful that it can slow your heart rate, decrease your blood pressure, and strengthen your immune system.
The healing power of touch will help restore balance and flow to your body, mind and spirit on every level.
A “Pain Management Online Continuing Education Course” is offered by Ariana Institute.
Ariana Vincent, LMT, MTI, NCTMB, is approved as a Continuing Education Provider and Massage Therapy Instructor throughout the United States and by The Texas Department of State Health Services, Massage Therapy Division and The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Ariana has been a Licensed Massage Therapist for 31 years. She has been a Massage Therapy Instructor and a Continuing Education Provider for 13 years. As a Certified Massage Therapy Instructor and Continuing Education Provider, Ariana offers a wide variety of continuing education classes, seminars and workshops to provide relevant, substantive information regarding massage therapy. Learn more about Ariana at her personal website HERE.
Light and delicious, this scallop recipe is perfect for summer. Enjoy!
Ingredients: 30 sea scallops (about 2 1/4 pounds), 4 medium red bell peppers (about 2 pounds), 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, 1/2 cup dry white wine, 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, 2 tablespoons chilled butter (cut into small pieces), 1/4 teaspoon salt, cooking spray, fresh basil
Directions; thread 5 scallops onto each of 6 (12-inch) skewers. Cover and chill. Preheat broiler. Cut peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 15 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag. Seal and let stand 10 minutes. Peel peppers, and discard skins. Place peppers, broth, and wine in a blender; process until smooth. Combine pepper mixture and basil in a skillet. Bring to a boil; cook until reduced to 1 1/2 cups (about 5 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-low; gradually add butter, stirring until melted. Cover and keep warm. Prepare grill. Sprinkle kabobs with salt; place on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until done. Serve with bell pepper sauce. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired.
Makes 6 servings; 5 scallops and ¼ cup sauce each.
Adapted from Health.com
Chinese medicine offers one proven path to emotional balance and harmony for many people who struggle with anxiety or depression. Many people who receive treatment from a licensed acupuncturist experience significant benefits, and don’t need to take psychiatric drugs.
To be clear, acupuncture, Qi Gong practice and Chinese herbs are not an alternative to therapy, but rather, they can provide an excellent complement that supports the healing work done in therapy. When a person comes into my office presenting a complex and persistent pattern of behaving in a way that undermines their progress and deepens feelings of low self-esteem, a course of therapy is usually needed to help the person learn more effective strategies to deal with their lives. Acupuncture can be one of those strategies. I do believe that treatment with Chinese medicine is frequently an effective alternative to psychotropic medications, especially for people whose complaints and symptoms are not too severe.
Please don’t think I’m saying that psychotropic medications never have a useful role; there are serious situations where an experienced psychiatrist can prescribe a powerful drug or combination of drugs that will provide rapid relief that no other known approach will provide. Acute psychotic episodes where a person feels extremely suicidal may be controlled more easily with drugs than with acupuncture and herbs.
I’m not the first person to claim that anti-depressants are over-prescribed in our society. Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic: Psychiatric Drugs, Magic Bullets and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America should be required reading for every person who prescribes medications and who refers people struggling with emotional problems to psychiatrists. People who complain to their western medicine doctor of feeling low (often with good reason, after the death of a loved one or the break-up of a committed love relationship) may be prescribed a drug because that’s something the doctor can do in a brief visit, and the patient is expecting some tangible “help.” A prescription may be interpreted as “help.” And, it’s possible that the drug may cause a different problem (loss of libido is common), while not addressing the person’s actual condition, which might just be needing somebody to listen to and witness their pain and grief.
People who have found pharmaceutical relief from long-standing emotional problems might balk at any suggestion that they give up what is finally helping them lead more satisfying lives. Given that large numbers of people find these drugs less effective over time or never get satisfying relief of their depression or anxiety, it’s important to offer alternative approaches that have been useful for large numbers of people for centuries before pharmaceuticals were invented. When it proves difficult to stop taking drugs, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help make the process of cutting back and eventually quitting medications less difficult.
Stephen Cowan, an MD pediatrician who treats children with Chinese medicine approaches, offers a compelling framework to understand how to support different kinds of children to experience greater self-esteem and increased attention for academic tasks in his book Fire Child/Water Child. Given the potentially life-long problems that can be associated with prolonged use of powerful pharmaceuticals, Cowan’s book could be a worthwhile read for parents and their children’s caregivers.
Most of the evidence that Chinese medicine works to alleviate anxiety and depression comes from a long history of anecdotal evidence. A 2012 review published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry states that “…acupuncture may be a safe and effective treatment …(for Major Depressive Disorder, but )… the body of evidence from well-designed studies is limited and further investigation is called for.” The evidence for the health benefits of Qi Gong and Tai Chi is more extensive.
Will Fudeman, L.Ac., L.C.S.W., incorporates over 35 years counseling experience and over 25 years of practicing Shiatsu massage and Qi Gong into the practice of Chinese medicine. A graduate of New England School of Acupuncture, Will practices both Chinese and Japanese styles of acupuncture. His post-graduate studies of the Spirit of the Herbs with Thea Elijah at the Academy of Five Element Acupuncture contribute significantly to his work today. Will helps clients work on short-term goals (such as alleviation of pain and discomfort) and long-term goals to help people move toward optimal health and potential in their lives. His book, Before Pharmaceuticals: Emotional Healing with Chinese Medicine tells true stories of people who experienced great benefit from acupuncture, herbal medicine and Qi Gong, and includes essays by three of the most gifted Chinese medicine teachers in America today: Heiner Fruehauf, PhD, Thea Elijah, L.Ac., and Stephen Cowan, MD. His hope is that this book will lead many more people to explore the benefits of Chinese medicine as an adjunct to psychotherapy, and a useful path to a more satisfying life. Learn more about Will at his personal website.