What is Insomnia?
Insomnia includes inability to fall asleep, waking up at night, restless sleep. Also included, waking up early and dream disturbed sleep as well as being unrefreshed by sleep. Sleep is vital to us as it is the way the body and mind to restore and refresh itself. Sleep helps to restore the immune, nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems. These are vital processes that maintain mood, memory, and cognitive function, and also plays a large role in the function of the endocrine and immune system. In TCM terms, good quality sleep as well as a properly functioning digestive system is the way to restore Qi. Insomnia can be caused by psychiatric and medical conditions, unhealthy sleep habits, specific substances, and/or certain biological factors. It’s important to first understand what could be causing your sleep difficulties.
There are many medical conditions (some mild and others more serious) that can lead to sleeplessness. In some cases, a medical condition itself can be the cause. While in other cases, symptoms of the condition cause discomfort that can make it difficult for a person to sleep.
Medications such as those taken for the common cold and nasal allergies, high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease, birth control, asthma, and depression can also cause insomnia.
In addition, insomnia may be a symptom of underlying sleep disorders. For example, restless legs syndrome-a neurological condition in which a person has an uncomfortable sensation of needing to move his or her legs-can lead to insomnia. Sleep apnea is another sleep disorder linked to insomnia. With sleep apnea, a person’s airway becomes partially or completely obstructed during sleep, leading to pauses in breathing and a drop in oxygen levels. This causes a person to wake up briefly but repeatedly throughout the night. People with sleep apnea sometimes report experiencing insomnia.
If you have trouble sleeping on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to review your health as a whole and think about whether any underlying medical issues or sleep disorders could be contributing to your sleep problems. In some cases, there are simple steps that can be taken to improve sleep. Like avoiding bright lighting while winding down and trying to limit possible distractions, such as a TV, computer, or pets. Some people experience insomnia when light levels in the bedroom are too high, especially during the period of the full moon. In that case installing black out blinds can help. You should not simply accept poor sleep as a way of life.
Insomnia can be caused by psychiatric conditions such as depression. Psychological struggles can make it hard to sleep. Insomnia itself can bring on changes in mood, and shifts in hormones and physiology can lead to both psychiatric issues and sleep issues at the same time.
Sleep problems may represent a symptom of depression, and the risk of severe insomnia is much higher in patients with major depressive disorders. Studies show that insomnia can also trigger or worsen depression.
It’s important to know that symptoms of depression, such as low energy, loss of interest or motivation, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and insomnia can be linked, and one can make the other worse. The good news is that both are treatable with acupuncture and herbal medicine regardless of which came first. Exercise systems like Qigong are a mind/body exercise system and can help with insomnia.
Most adults have had some trouble sleeping because they feel worried or nervous, but for some it’s a pattern that interferes with sleep on a regular basis. Anxiety symptoms that can lead to insomnia include:
It’s not hard to see why these symptoms of general anxiety can make it difficult to sleep. Anxiety may be associated with onset insomnia (trouble falling asleep), or maintenance insomnia (waking up during the night and not being able to return to sleep). In either case, the quiet and inactivity of the night often brings on stressful thoughts or even fears that keep a person awake.
Increasing work loads can lead to insomnia as the mind begins to process the days work during sleep leading to wakefulness.
Insomnia can be triggered or perpetuated by your behaviors and sleep patterns. Unhealthy lifestyles and sleep habits can create insomnia on their own (without any underlying psychiatric or medical problem), or they can make insomnia caused by another problem worse.
Examples of how specific lifestyles and sleep habits can lead to insomnia are:
Some cases of insomnia start out with an acute episode but turn into a longer-term problem. For example, let’s say a person can’t sleep for a night or two after receiving bad news. In this case, if the person starts to adopt unhealthy sleep habits such as getting up in the middle of the night to work, or drinking alcohol before bed to compensate. The insomnia can continue and potentially turn into a more serious problem. Instead of passing, it can become chronic.
Once this happens, worry and thoughts such as, “I’ll never sleep,” become associated with bedtime, and every time the person can’t sleep, it reinforces the pattern.
This is why it’s important to address insomnia instead of letting it become the norm.
This varies from person to person. Some people need as little as 4-5 hours of sleep a night while others need 9-10 to function normally. As a general rule look to how much sleep you used to have in the past.
Certain substances and activities, including eating patterns, can contribute to insomnia. If you can’t sleep, review the following lifestyle factors to see if one or more could be affecting you:
Alcohol is a sedative. It can make you fall asleep initially, but may disrupt your sleep later in the night.
Caffeine is a stimulant. Most people understand the alerting power of caffeine and use it in the morning to help them start the day and feel productive. Caffeine in moderation is fine for most people, but excessive caffeine can cause insomnia. Caffeine can stay in your system for as long as eight hours, so the effects are long lasting. If you have insomnia, do not consume food or drinks with caffeine too close to bedtime.
Nicotine is also a stimulant and can cause insomnia. Smoking cigarettes or tobacco products close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep and to sleep well through the night. Smoking is damaging to your health. If you smoke, you should stop.
Heavy meals close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep. The best practice is to eat lightly before bedtime. When you eat too much in the evening, it can cause discomfort and make it hard for your body to settle and relax. Spicy foods can also cause heartburn and interfere with your sleep.
In some cases, insomnia may be caused by certain neurotransmitters in the brain that are known to be involved with sleep and wakefulness.
There are many possible chemical interactions in the brain that could interfere with sleep and may explain why some people are biologically prone to insomnia and seem to struggle with sleep for many years without any identifiable cause—even when they follow healthy sleep advice.
A customised combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas can offer fast and lasting results.
Acupuncture – A TCM practitioner would select specific acupoints depending on the type of disharmony and use stimulating hand techniques to stimulate Qi.
Herbal Medicine –Chinese herbs for insomnia are a very effective treatment for insomnia.
Gui pi wan, for example, is herbal formula in pill form is particularly effective for overworked patients especially if they have digestive issues.
Suan Zao Ren/Sour Jujube Seeds is a herb, which when included in a formula, will help with insomnia, palpitations, anxiety as well as night sweats. Jujubes contain a wide array of different trace elements, including magnesium, potassium, copper, niacin, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, and iron. They contain 20 times more vitamin C than any citrus fruit, strengthening the immune system and fighting infections, which may be why they’ve been used medicinally for millennia in many cultures, as a tea for sore throat, for example.
Medical studies have found that jujube fruits and extracts have the capacity help lower blood pressure, reverse liver disease, treat anemia, and inhibit the growth of tumor cells that can lead to leukemia. Jujube extracts are also used in skin care products used to diminish wrinkles, relieve dry skin, and treat sunburn pain.
Getting enough sleep is one of the best things we can do for good health. If you find yourself short of sleep, TCM can help trace the roots of your insomnia and design an effective treatment for you. In TCM, there is no one solution which cures all for everyone. Rather, each patient receives an individualised formula for them to address the symptoms presented. There are a variety of herbal formulae that have been shown to help those with insomnia, that is, to sleep more deeply and achieve a full night’s sleep and wake up refreshed. Pairing a herbal formula with regular acupuncture treatments helps. Also, mindfulness exercises/Qigong, will help. As a result, TCM can be used to improve the quality of sleep without the sluggish side effects of sleeping tablets.
To make an appointment with David Hankey, call Acupuncture Cork on 087 2744735, or email: email@example.com
Classes are held in the Teaching Rooms, Wellington Road, Cork.
Tuesday evenings 6pm.
Please bring loose fitting layers of clothes, and a rain jacket in case of rain.
Text Tai Chi to 087 2744 735 to be kept informed.
DAVID HANKEY has been practicing Chi Kung and Aikido for more than 30 years. He has been practicing Tai Chi for more than 25 years. He has been teaching for more than 20 years. He has taught in Ireland as well as China. He also received private instruction in Qi Gong from his teacher Prof. Wu Tian Cheng. David is a student of Taoist Master Tian Liyang from Wudang Shan in China. In addition to studying Tai Chi, David is a practitioner of Acupuncture, Shiatsu/massage, Aikido, Yoga and Zen meditation for over 30 years.
Tel : 087 2744 735 for details of classes
Facebook: David Hankey Tai Chi Cork
Chi Kung is a traditional system of health exercises where the practitioner focuses on three things – posture, breathing and calming the mind. So, we could say that Chi Kung explores the mind-body relationship. Qi means “life-force energy” and gong means “skill”, so Chi Kung is the skilled practice of gathering, circulating, and applying life-force energy.
“Wild Goose” Chi Kung is a set of 64 movements which looks similar to Tai Chi. The result of practicing this is improved wellbeing, better health and alleviation of diseases. In fact, Chi Kung, is very beneficial for those with chronic illness.
The practise consists of both vigorous and gentle movements in which actions are alternated with stillness with perfect ease. So long as you do this type of Qi-Gong regularly and without fail, you will find your health improved, disease alleviated. This form of exercise is suitable for old and young alike.
Wudang Tai Chi is part of the Taoist system of training the mind and body. This system was developed over the centuries by the monks on Mount Wudang in China. Wudang is one of the 5 sacred mountains in China. Practicing Tai Chi can help us to more deeply understand our bodies and minds and learn the methods to make them cleaner, clearer, quieter, and healthier. Tai Chi training teaches us not only to train our muscles, tendons, and bones, but also to train our intention, internal feeling, awareness, and power in order to bring about greater balance and health in our lives.
Tai Chi Chuan is an ancient system of physical exercise that promotes total health: emotional, mental and spiritual. Unlike exercises that use exertion and force to build muscular strength, a strength that inevitably deteriorates with age, the gentle and flowing, yet rigorous movements of Tai Chi focus on relaxing and straightening the body. This enhances coordination and circulation and balances all bodily functions.
Originating in ancient China, Tai Chi is a graceful form of exercise/movement that is practiced primarily for its health benefits, which include relief from stress and anxiety. Emphasizing total relaxation, Tai Chi can be perceived as a type of meditation, and in fact it has been referred to as “meditation in motion”. Its movements, which are gentle, flowing and slow, draw on internal energy rather than brute strength. Through repeating these specific motions, the individual aims to harmonize mind and body.
After some practice, students will find their Qi or internal energy flowing and will begin to feel more relaxed. On the other hand, if pain or stiffness is experienced in certain areas the Qi is blocked, and further practice will remove this blockage.
Patience is needed to start with, and perseverance to carry your practice through many stages of development. The practice takes time, so you need to give it time. It takes about a year to learn the full Tai Chi form, on the basis of one class a week and practicing every day for about 15 minutes. Tai Chi can be seen as an exercise system or a self-defense system. As Tai Chi embraces many aspects of movement and stillness, it can be practiced by any age group. Consistent daily practice promotes relaxation, concentration and increased vitality due to improved circulatory and respiratory functions. Classes, which typically last 60-90 minutes, begin with a series of breathing exercises and move on to slow and precise body movements or “forms” that may take from twenty to thirty minutes to perform. Breath is the link between mind and body, so these breathing exercises explore the Mind-Body link. Students typically wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes and flat shoes. Some may even prefer to go barefoot.
Each form (body movement) can include as many as 100 positions that are carried out in one continuous fluid movement from start to finish. Because the basic movements are deceptively simple in appearance, some beginners initially may find them boring. Nonetheless, experienced Tai Chi practitioners will agree that even the basic movements can be challenging and mastering them may take a lifetime.
To get the most out of the instruction, students are encouraged to practice the forms for a set amount of time each day. As a general rule, early is better than late. In China, for example, large groups often carry out Tai Chi exercises as part of an early morning routine.
Because it can be performed almost anywhere and because timing and awareness are more important than athletic ability, Tai Chi appeals to both young and old, male and female. Almost anyone can undertake it. People do not have to be in top health to start practising Tai Chi, and in fact, it can be adapted to suit individuals using wheelchairs or walkers. Low-intensity by nature and not physically demanding for beginners, Tai Chi is well suited for the elderly and those experiencing post-operative or post-traumatic stress.
Another appealing facet of Tai Chi is that it does not require special clothing or equipment. The bare minimum is a few square feet of space, whether in a sunny park or a small living room. Individuals are allowed to proceed at their own pace of learning and no ranks or belts are awarded. This highly convenient aspect of Tai Chi has contributed to it becoming one of the world’s most widely practised forms of exercise.
With its gentle emphasis on relaxation, breath awareness and graceful movement, Tai Chi is a safe and effective form of health-promoting exercise. The self-pacing aspects of Tai Chi enable individuals to set their own limits; consequently, a young athletic person may be inclined to flex his or her knees deeply whereas an elderly individual may only decide to complete only a fraction of the same movement.
Tai Chi can help alleviate a wide range of conditions including stress, arthritis, rheumatism, poor posture and lower back pain. It also enhances strength and muscle tone, improves co-ordination and balance, and increases both flexibility and range of motion. Research has shown that the daily practice of Tai Chi can reduce blood pressure as much as ordinary aerobic exercise without increasing the heart rate.
Tai Chi consists of a series of flowing movements that are good for the health, while Tai Chi Chi Kung, which is easier to learn, consists of 18 breathing exercises taken from the Tai Chi form. The exercises are done as individual exercises and are therefore easier to learn. These breathing exercises are practiced as part of the class.
The first principle of Tai Chi is relaxation, without which there is no Tai Chi; the whole body must be relaxed, loose and open, so that the Chi/Energy can pass through without blockage. Later on in our study, as we begin to relax we realise that relaxation is not simply becoming limp, there should be a quality of vitality about it. Building on that foundation, the practitioner will feel the difference between going limp, which is lifeless, and the relaxation of a cat, which is completely vital and alert. Tai Chi master Cheng Man-Ch’ing described it as like a bale of cotton: soft, but the more it is compressed , the firmer and more substantial it becomes.
Contact David Hankey 087 2744 735
Cupping Therapy is receiving lots of publicity with many top athletes and celebrities using it. Relatively unknown to most people living in the West until recently, cupping therapy is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Some records show that variations of cupping practices might actually be much older, possibly dating as far back as 3000 B.C.
And for good reason. Cupping therapy has a host of health benefits that can often outweigh modern medicine techniques.
One of the biggest advantages of cupping therapy, is that it doesn’t pose the risk for unwanted side effects unlike pharmacological drugs or surgery do.
In fact, there’s really no downside to trying cupping, since studies show it can help boost the immune system and speed up healing time without the use of any medications or even herbs. And these are just some of the benefits of cupping therapy.
Benefits of Cupping Therapy
Cupping techniques have been used extensively to treat a range of disorders and symptoms sometimes on their own, or other times in conjunction with other TCM practices such as acupuncture and therapeutic massage (Tuina). What we do know is that cupping works by expanding the blood vessels and increasing the amount of fluid entering and leaving tissues. Besides this, cupping therapy seems to provoke a relaxation response in some people, which means it’s useful for lowering stress and its negative effects.
Helps Reduce Pain
One of the most common uses for Cupping Therapy is to naturally reduce joint and muscle pain. Cupping releases tissues deep inside the body, relaxes tense muscles and eases stiffness associated with chronic back and neck pains, migraines, rheumatism, and fatigue. Some athletes and martial artists have been known to use cupping therapy to naturally improve performance and reduce stiffness, muscle cramps, joint pains and scar tissue caused by injuries.
Cupping targets soft tissue by applying local pressure to pain points and areas of swelling. As blood flow increases within vessels and capillaries, tissues receive much-needed nutrients and oxygen.
It might seem counteractive, but cupping often helps alleviate physical complaints and allows people to enter a more relaxed state since it sedates the central nervous system. This is similar to acupuncture.
Boosts Skin Health
Cupping is used to treat certain skin conditions like cellulite, acne and skin inflammation. While studies haven’t shown it can necessarily help with weight loss, the fact that it tones and firms skin by improving blood flow and expanding capillaries makes it popular among celebrities and people in the spotlight who want to appear to have toned skin. As part of a skin-clearing or cellulite treatment, oil is commonly first applied to the skin before the cups are suctioned and moved around.
Helps Treat Respiratory Conditions and Colds
Commonly used to help nourish the lungs and clear away phlegm or congestion, cupping therapy can be useful for speeding up healing time from respiratory illnesses like the flu and common cold. Cupping helps improve immune function by moving blood and lymphatic fluid throughout the body, which is why it’s been associated with reductions in lung diseases (especially chronic coughs), allergies, infections and asthma. In fact, if cupping therapy is done at the onset of a cold or flu, it may completely cure the situation.
Treating respiratory conditions like pulmonary tuberculosis is one of the oldest uses for cupping and was utilized long before prescriptions were available.
Acupuncture and cupping are both popular ways to improve digestion and reduce symptoms from disorders like irritable bowel syndrome. This might primarily be because they can lower a patient’s stress response, which is highly tied to healthy digestive functioning.
Cupping therapy has been found to be beneficial for people with frequent stomach pains, diarrhea, acute gastritis, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal diseases and water retention. For digestive disturbances, cupping is commonly performed in the following areas: around the navel, over the bladder, around the kidneys or over the stomach.
What Is Cupping Therapy?
Cupping can remove toxins from the body, which in turn improves immunity.
Cupping therapy can treat a variety of conditions safely, including:
How Cupping Therapy Works
Cupping therapy is used to enhance circulation, help relieve pain, remove heat and pull out the toxins that linger in your body’s tissues.
Glass cups are applied to a patient’s back in a series of positions and a vacuum is applied which sucks the surrounding skin into the cup. This promotes the blood flow to the areas of skin and deep tissue within the area. This is beneficial for dulling pain, breaking up deep scar tissue, and relaxing tender muscles or connective tissue. In this way, cupping is almost like the opposite of getting a massage since instead of applying pressure to swollen areas, it draws pressure out. For this reason cupping is often done in patients who experience chronic lower back pain, muscle knots, tightness due to anxiety, swelling or stiffness.
The cups are left in place for 5 to 15 minutes.
Moving cupping is similar but involves applying massage oil to the skin first, which helps the heated cups glide over tense areas on the patient’s back.
Back when cupping first originated, animal horns, clay pots, brass cups and bamboo were used to create the cups, but today cups are commonly made out of more durable materials, such as glass or heat-resistant plastic and rubber.
Traditionally, a piece of cotton wool is burned in the cup which uses up all the air in the cup. The cup is quickly applied to the area of skin. The lack of air in the cup creates a vacuum which holds the cup in place. I use a vacuum pump to remove the air and create the vacuum. This means that there is no heat on the glass which can burn the skin. Also the gauge on the device means that I can apply an exact pressure.
Is Cupping Therapy Safe?
Cupping might sound a bit scary to someone who’s new to the practice, but rest assured that cupping isn’t usually painful and most trained practitioners are very careful to use sterile equipment. During a cupping session, it’s common to feel some heat and tightness around the cup, but many people find this to actually be relaxing and soothing.
Cupping is considered a safe practice, While the different cupping techniques seem to be similar in terms of effectiveness.
Keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for skin discoloration to develop after cupping, which can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. For people with bleeding disorders or who are prone to bruising, cupping should be avoided. It can cause minor and temporary bruising in some people, but this can become problematic for those who don’t heal well from bruises.
For more information about cupping therapy, or to book an appointment,
Contact David Hankey Acupuncture Cork.
Phone: 087 2744 737
Acupuncture and the treatment of PMS
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the cyclic recurrence of a group of symptoms that peak 7 to 10 days before menstruation and disappear a few hours after the onset of the menstrual flow. This condition is characterized by multiple and diverse symptoms including, but not limited to: breast tenderness, transient weight gain, bloating, constipation, insomnia, acne, headache, pelvic pain, irritability, depression, mood swings, poor concentration, confusion, social withdrawal, impulsiveness and appetite changes. While many women experience mild symptoms of short duration, other women have more severe symptoms that last for many days and temporarily disturb their normal functioning.
There can also be painful menstrual issues that can mean that in some cases the woman may only feel well for one week at a time, each cycle. Estimations state that up to 80% of women suffer with some issues and only 5% suffering severe life disrupting symptoms.
PMS is due to unbalanced hormonal fluctuations. A mixture of correct diet, adequate exercise, and emotional clarity, along with acupuncture and Chinese medicinal herbs can correct imbalances and bring long-term relief.
What is clear here is that PMT symptoms only occur when there is ovarian function. Therefore any woman who is pregnant or has gone through the menopause or had her ovaries removed does not suffer with any symptoms. So it is quite clearly a disharmony of the hormones and the second half of the cycle, i.e. an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone levels that can be also exacerbated today by poor nutrition, stress and poor sleeping patterns.
From a TCM point of view a balanced woman should not suffer any abnormal issues coming up to her period. Her periods will be regular (24-35 day cycles) and she should feel comfortable. When the body is in balance, a woman will have periods on a regular basis, they also don’t complain about issues such as pain, water retention, emotional upheaval or PMS-related fatigue. So, many of the symptoms associated with PMS (breast tenderness, irritability, cramps, headaches), from a Chinese medical perspective, are simply symptoms of blocked energy. Acupuncture helps to open those blockages thus allowing the energy to flow without restriction. This brings the body back to balance by eliminating PMS altogether by working on the liver qi in particular, and the blood in the spleen. These are all energetics that are central to a healthy reproductive system.
Lots of women attend me for lots of reasons. What is interesting is that whatever the case in front me is, I always ask about the health of the woman’s menstrual cycle. A few women have often looked surprised when I ask them about about their menstrual health and PMS. They say that they thought PMS was normal.
What is always interesting is the woman who comes for help, for say skin issues for example, and they mention while having acupuncture treatments that this was the first month that they didn’t have PMS coming up to their period. This is because TCM looks at the overall woman and treats the root which can be causing layer after layer of very different symptoms.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are wonderful for helping and should be something to consider if looking for natural solutions. A herbal formula to help smooth out the energy of the liver is Xiao Yao Wan/Free and Easy Wanderer. The name suggests the ideal state. However, I would also recommend various lifestyle suggestions including adequate rest, nutrition and exercise.
Balanced nutrition is crucial for overcoming PMS. Certain foods such as alcohol, caffeine, cold temperature foods, sugar, salt, and animal fats exacerbate symptoms of PMS and should be avoided. In addition, commercial red meats and poultry, which have a residue of steroids composed of female animal sex hormones, should be eliminated from the diet. Food necessary for a harmonious menstrual cycle include: plenty of organic vegetables, small amounts of fruit, whole grains, legumes (especially soy), seaweed, small amounts of lean hormone-free meats, and fish (especially salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel).
Exercise plays an important role in the treatment of PMS. Thirty to forty-five minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three times per week improves blood circulation and significantly helps reduce symptoms. Exercises like Tai Chi not only give a good workout to all the muscles but it is also good for reducing stress.
In addition to diet and exercise, some form of meditation can be very helpful. Our emotions and hormones influence each other, since they are registered in the same part of our brain. Stress can cause hormonal imbalances and therefore worsen the symptoms of PMS. Some quiet time everyday helps bring emotional and physical equilibrium.
Chinese medicine offers even more tools to address premenstrual syndrome. Acupuncture removes energy blockages and in turn stabilizes hormonal fluctuations. It also provides deep relaxation that helps to calm the mind. Chinese herbs work together with acupuncture to regulate the flow of energy and substances in the body. Together they stimulate the body’s natural functions and encourage it to establish optimum balance.
Women do not have to accept and live with premenstrual syndrome. When the symptoms of PMS are reduced or eliminated, women feel more energetic — physically, mentally and emotionally.
The use contraceptives such as pills and patches (all of which inhibit ovulation) may be of value as regards contraceptives. But, they reduce the hormonal variability of the natural menstrual cycle and may cxontribute to PMS and Fertility problems. . For those women wishing to conceive, relief from PMS symptoms and regulating their monthly clcle can ultimately lead to improved fertility.
Acupuncture and the treatment of PMS.
Chinese medicine has developed treatment for the many complaints of PMS over the past two thousand years, and recently, the National Institute of Health in America endorsed acupuncture for the relief of premenstrual pain and discomfort. Treatment and prevention involve the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, along with nutritional guidance and lifestyle counseling. For the highest success rate and to bring long-term relief, Chinese medical treatment should ideally be received consistently for a sufficient period of time, traditionally considered to be at least weekly, over the duration of three menstrual cycles, in order to bring the body back in to a state of balance.
I have been treating women for the symptoms of PMS for twenty years. If you would like any more information, or would like to contact me for an appointment, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Medical Qigong to improve health and immune system
Medical Qigong (pronounced Chi Kung)
What is Medical Qigong? Medical Qigong is another mode of Chinese Medicine alongside acupuncture, herbal medicine and therapeutic massage. Medical Qigong refers either to a practitioner doing Qigong on the patient or to the patient doing a set of mind and body exercises/meditation. Medical Qigong is a set of exercises to improve health and boost the immune system.
When a practitioner does medical Qigong on the patient, he/she is using their hands to open and manipulate the points rather than use acupuncture needles. Just like acupuncture the therapist uses the same diagnostic tools to lead to the point prescription.
The purpose of this blog and accompanying video on YouTube is to show people how to do a set of Qigong exercises for themselves. This will be a very basic model, but that doesn’t mean that it is in any way less effective. Rather, it will be the basic model on which more complicated or specific exercises can be built. Qigong exercises can be very specific to particular complaints, but this one forms the basics.
Medical Qigong exercises also play a part in the patient’s recovery to health and also to improve the immune system and the general health of the patient. Done correctly, these exercises are like doing an acupuncture session on yourself. Medical Qigong exercises can also be done by those wishing to boost their immune systems as well as to improve general health.
All forms of TCM treatment strive to boost, reinforce, strengthen and invigorate the Qi or life-force energy.
The word Qigong is made up of two Chinese words. “Qi” means “life force” or “vital energy” which flows through all things in the universe. “Gong” means “work”. Qigong therefore means “working with Qi”
Qigong is the art and science of using breathing techniques, gentle movement and meditation to cleanse, strengthen and circulate Qi. Qigong practice leads to better health and vitality and a more tranquil state of mind.
Qigong practices involve various postures, either moving or stationery, breathing exercises and exercises to calm and quieten the mind and help focus intention. Some practices increase Qi, others circulate it. Some practices are to cleanse and heal the body, while others store or emit Qi to help heal others.
The gentle rhythmic movements of Qigong reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality and enhance the immune system. It has been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive function.
Qigong is an exercise routine which promotes relaxation and increases the blood flow. Also, because the person is focusing on, and following the breath in a smooth flow, it is mindfulness meditation. This reduces stress, which can also exacerbating an illness. One of the most important long term benefits of Qigong is that it re-establishes the mind/body/spirit connection.
Tai Chi is a particular style of Qigong which is graceful, relaxed, slow and fluid. Unlike some Qigong methods which exercise specific systems or parts of the body – nervous system, endocrine system, heart, kidneys – Qigong is a whole body, whole mind exercise.
This blog is to accompany a video I have done to demonstrate the important points when doing these Qigong exercises for yourself. All that is needed is the space where you stand and time. With practice, build up to 30 minutes. Every day is best, twice a day if you can manage. To see any benefit it is best to practice every day for a few months. Then review the situation to see whether the exercises have made any difference.
The accompanying video shows the basic postures and important points when doing these exercises.
The video shows in real time how to perform the exercises so you can do them alongside the video. I have included the basic postures/relaxation and 4 exercises which are good for starting this practice. So, just follow along at your own pace. Sitting or standing is ok.
If you suffer from an illness or would like to use Qigong for prevention, why not give it a go? Please follow the link below and follow along for yourself. Firstly, see if you like this form of exercise. To obtain best results, practice for a half hour every day for a month and see for yourself if you have made an progress.
I can perform Medical Qigong on patients and also show how to do the exercises as well as prescribe specific exercises for different complaints.
If you would like more information, or would like to book a consultation to experience a Qigong treatment, please contact me at:
Acupuncture Cork, David Hankey. Phone 087 2744735
or email email@example.com
Traditional Chinese Medicine For Weight Loss Part 2
Here are some thoughts on how Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture can help with weight loss and improving the digestion. Acupuncture for weight loss involves the insertion of tiny needles to help improve the digestion. Traditional Chinese Medicine for weight loss would be the use of herbal medicine to improve the digestion.
One pill makes you thinner
Diet drugs have made a comeback, but even the medical profession acknowledges their limits. Most produce modest result for the majority of patients and are for short -term use only. And some studies show that once you stop taking the medication, any lost weight is gained back. Then there are the possible side effects, such as elevated blood pressure, dizziness, insomnia, gastrointestinal disturbances and impotence to be taken into account.
Some diet programs use nutritional supplements or prescription medications to suppress your appetite. This makes no sense from a TCM perspective. TCM views hunger as a vital signal from your body. Appetite suppressants send a wrong message, telling your organs to reduce or stop their natural functions. If there is damage caused by the appetite suppressant, then your body will have to supply extra Qi to the organ to fix it, which is contrary to the healing process needed for healthy weight loss. Also, any damage to the organs’ function will make it harder to maintain weight loss later, once you stop taking the pills.
Going to extremes
Gastric banding, or stomach stapling, has received a great deal of media attention recently. From the TCM perspective, reducing the stomach’s size must surely interrupt its function. Also, operating on any organ can damage the corresponding meridians, the invisible energy pathways that rum throughout your body. Aside from the obvious loss of appetite and serious side effects from this surgery, TCM recognises other side effects that might not seem connected. The Spleen/Stomach organ system in TCM theory is related to muscle and fat. So, if the organ that controls these tissues is being reduced, one possible side effect could be muscle pain all over, particularly on the side of the legs where the Stomach meridians run. The Heart, as the mother organ of the Stomach, would possibly carry an added energy burden after this surgery, too, in an attempt to make up for the reduction in the size of the Stomach and its customary functions.
Pain? No gain?
In many diet plans, exercise is a major component. “No pain, no gain” is the credo. Again, TCM takes a different stance. Instead of improving cardiovascular health, very vigorous, sweat-producing exercise regimens can actually impair it, according to TCM. Sweat is the body fluid related to the Heart in TCM theory, and excessive perspiration can throw this vital organ out of balance and impair its function. Aside from expending large amounts of Qi, strenuous high-impact exercise frequently causes tendon problems. Because the tendons are considered the “tissue” of the Liver, TCM believes that exercise that impacts the state of the tendons can also have a negative impact on the Liver.
Because the human body is approximately seventy percent water, from the TCM perspective it responds best to soft, fluid movements and exercise such as dancing, Tai Chi, Yoga, jogging, cycling, gentle swimming and best of all, walking in nature. Qigong (Chi Kung) is a system of energy exercise that is used extensively in China to treat a wide range of conditions including obesity. TCM regards Qigong as a self-healing energy practise, especially helpful to people trying to lose weight because it can help increase your body’s Qi. Tai Chi and Aikido are very good forms of exercise for those with more energy. To heal your body and lose weight, TCM recognises that Qi needs to be increased, not decreased, so exercise must bring energy into your body, not expend it.
The weight of your emotions
How much does anger weigh? What about sadness? Perhaps the most interesting aspect of TCM’s view of excess weight is the role played by your emotions. TCM treats the body, mind, emotions and spirit as an integrated and interrelated whole. This means to have true physical health there must be emotional health.
When TCM looks at digestion, it takes the broadest view: digestion is the ingestion, absorption and letting go of food and drink- and emotion. According to TCM theory, each of the five organ pairs has a corresponding emotion. For instance, anger and stress are related to the Liver and Gallbladder. TCM understands that chronically held emotions act like internal pathogens, setting up an imbalance in the way your organs function. Often, TCM practitioners urge their patients to emotionally “let things go” or to slow down and take more rest. If you hold on to an emotion, it will stay “undigested” or stagnant in your system and create disharmony and disease.
From the TCM viewpoint, stress plays a large part in overweight conditions. Unrelenting stress creates a negative vibration that impairs Liver function. Because the Liver controls the digestive process that takes place in the Spleen/Stomach organ pair, its dysfunction can disturb healthy digestion. TCM encourages you to tune in to your own body and spirit, recognising that each of us is entirely unique.
It’s up to you. Do you want quick weight loss results at the expense of your long- term health? Or do you want lasting weight loss that brings the benefits of harmony and balance? There are many health benefits of acupuncture. Traditional Chinese Medicine, with its age-old specialities of prevention and lifestyle modification, is a safe and truly healing weight loss resource just waiting to be discovered.
If you would like to speak to me about weight loss or improving your digestion, contact me at:
Acupuncture Cork David Hankey, phone 087 2744735
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Traditional Chinese Medicine For Weight Loss;
What Have You Got To Lose? Part 1
Recent statistics show that more people in Ireland are overweight, with some meeting the criteria for obesity. And the numbers are steadily rising. Most alarming are the statistics for children.
From all the magazine articles and commercials on TV that barrage you with ways to lose weight, you’d think it would be a piece of cake to stop this “epidemic” in its tracks. Consumers have countless choices. There are low-carbohydrate diets and raw food regimens; nutritional supplements and exhaustive exercise workouts; diuretics and diet pills; and perhaps most dramatic of all, stomach stapling. So why are people constantly struggling with their weight? And why aren’t their dieting efforts more successful? Perhaps we’ve been looking for weight loss in the wrong places. Take a chance on traditional Chinese medicine’s unique point of view. Here are some thoughts on how Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture can help. What have you got to lose? Acupuncture for weight loss involves the insertion of tiny needles to help improve the digestion. Traditional Chinese Medicine for weight loss would be the use of herbal medicine to improve the digestion.
Losing weight…OR…Gaining health?
One of the biggest differences between Western weight loss programs and the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) approach is that Western methods focus on external issues. It’s all about the food and the amount of it. Instead, TCM addresses the root cause of being overweight. From the TCM perspective, it’s necessary to find and treat the root cause of any condition. TCM aims to make the digestive organs work more efficiently. If the digestive organs are not working to transform the food we eat in to usable energy, we can get overweight. Excess weight is considered just one symptom of an underlying health problem. The end result of a series of internal events in your body that usually begin with a Qi (pronounced CHEE) or energy deficiency or imbalance. Unless the root cause is addressed, the weight loss won’t be permanent. As if to prove the point, some medical statistics show that nearly 95% of dieters who use conventional weight-loss methods regain some or all of the weight they lose.
When your digestive organs fall out of balance, your organs can’t perform their tasks, for example, promoting healthy metabolism and ridding your body of excess water and fat.
Have you ever experienced problems like headaches, emotional difficulties, depression and allergies before a weight gain? These are all signals that your body is having functional difficulties. Frequently, the problem is an imbalance in the relationship between the digestive organs – crucial to proper digestion. TCM believes that when your body is in balance, you don’t have weight problems. When your Qi is strong and balanced, weight will be lost naturally and normal weight will be maintained.
An apple a day
The majority of diet plans require you to eat – or stop eating – specific foods. TCM’s view is that a healthy body will simply “ask for” what it needs. When your Qi is strong and balanced, you won’t experience extraordinary food cravings or have an uncontrollable appetite. Cravings indicate that your body requires a certain type of Qi or energy. For example, craving sweets or a sweet taste, that’s your Spleen telling you it’s out of balance. Crave salt or salty foods like crisps? That’s your Kidney looking for help. These are not necessarily bad things, we always seek to keep in balance. Women craving chocolate at certain times of the month may need magnesium, which chocolate contains. Each food, according to TCM, carries a specific essence that resonates energetically with one or more of your organs. Cravings are viewed as signals that an organ may be imbalanced and requires treatment.
It’s common for a TCM practitioner to “prescribe” certain foods to a patient – food is just one of a variety of healing resources used in TCM treatment. Food recommendations are selected with an eye to healing the root cause of your specific health problem and without side effects. Used in this way, food is a means of healing one or more organs to restore your health as a whole.
When you make intelligent choices and keep an eye on high quality, food becomes a resource that can be used every day for healing. TCM has a unique understanding of the effects of different foods and methods of cooking on your body because it recognises the impact they have on your body’s energy system. For overall well-being and to maintain a healthy weight, TCM advises a varied diet of vegetables, fruits, some grains, legumes and nuts. Seafood, especially shellfish, has many healing benefits. Meat, if it is included in your diet, should be eaten in small quantities because it puts a burden on your digestive system and requires extra Qi/energy to process. Approximately, 30% meat, 30% vegetables and 40 % carbohydrates is beneficial. Fried and barbecued foods should also be eaten in moderation because they tend to create too much internal heat, particularly in the stomach. Raw or uncooked foods are not recommended. They have a cold essence that impairs Stomach function. Raw food may have a little more nutrition, but it requires more Qi in the digestive process, offsetting any benefits.
Some weight loss diets ask you to eat very small portions or skip meals altogether. TCM believes that this practice actually undermines dieting efforts. According to TCM, there are two main sources of energy in the body. One, called “Inborn Qi,” is inherited at birth and stored in your Kidney. The other, called “Acquired Qi” or the energy derived from food, is continuously made each day from what you eat and drink. It is processed by the Spleen/Stomach organ pair, and stored there, on hand to support the function of all the organs, supply their energy needs, and help maintain your body’s capacity to regulate and heal itself.
Not eating enough food or skipping meals can lead to a Stomach function disorder. Eventually your Stomach won’t be able to extract the nourishment you need from the food you eat. This can result in bloating, allergies and even weight gain! When there is not enough Acquired Qi available, your body is forced to draw the energy it needs from the constitutional strength stores of energy.
About that bottle of water
Frequent urination, irregular heartbeat, an increase in cholesterol levels, weakness, and impotence are a high price to pay if you want to lose a few pounds. But that’s what you can expect if you use diuretic pills as a routine to lose weight.
Eliminating water from your body will result in lower numbers on the scale, but at what cost? Excess water is a sign that one or more organs has an imbalance.
TCM sees diuretics, which stimulate the kidneys to remove sodium and water, as an attempt to force the kidneys and bladder to work overtime. Diuretics will rid the body of water, at first, yet will create different health problems later on when the organs exhaust themselves.
Some weight loss regimens encourage you to drink more water to create a “full” feeling and to rid your body of toxins. From the TCM point of view, drinking large amounts of water is not a healthy practice. It forces your body to drain its Qi by keeping the Kidney/ Bladder organ system in a constant state of production – even during the night when these organs should be resting and conserving energy. And this expends precious energy that that your body needs to heal the internal conditions that caused your weight problem in the first place.
Do you want quick weight loss results at the expense of your long- term health? Or do you want lasting weight loss that brings the benefits of harmony and balance? Traditional Chinese Medicine, with its age-old specialities of prevention and lifestyle modification, is a safe and truly healing weight loss resource just waiting to be discovered.
If you would like to speak to me about weight loss or improving your digestion, contact me at:
Acupuncture Cork David Hankey, phone 087 2744735
or email email@example.com
Acupuncture and Hepatitis C
Whether or not you are taking antiviral medications, make sure you know how acupuncture can help in the fight against Hepatitis C.
There are many new drug therapy treatments currently on offer to patients who suffer from Hepatitis C. This progress is encouraging; however, there are many individuals with Hepatitis C who still need help. Acupuncture is one such therapy which is of benefit to many. This eastern-based therapy can be extremely valuable to people fighting Hepatitis C – whether they take conventional drugs or not.
Drug Treatment Side Effects
The goal of Hepatitis C drug treatment is to suppress the virus so much that it becomes undetectable in the blood.
While the effectiveness of modern drugs is good, the side effects are often severe. The side effects frequently incurred from a Hepatitis C drugs can involve:
Experiencing any of the side effects above can make Hepatitis C treatment a grueling process. Side effects may be the cause of reducing drug dosage. In more severe cases, several of the side effects can spell the end of Hepatitis C treatment all together – and a consequential surrender of hope.
Acupuncture Helps Minimize Side Effects
Acupuncture is not intended to be a substitute for Hepatitis C treatment. Rather, acupuncture maximizes the body’s potential for health by creating an energetic balance. For someone on a Hepatitis C drug cocktail, that balance is likely to reduce the incidence or severity of side effects. Those who have had acupuncture can attest to its ability to make a significant impact on the following symptoms:
Another side effect is Anemia. Anemia, not having enough red blood cells, poses a major obstacle to successfully completing Hepatitis C treatment. Because red blood cells provide other cells with the oxygen they need to function normally, anemia can cause devastating fatigue.
One of acupuncture’s strengths is that its stimulation of the body’s energy to create balance can influence blood cell creation. In the treatment of anemia, points are typically selected that increase this effect.
Acupuncture for Liver Health
Many patients with chronic Hepatitis C don’t receive the antiviral drug treatment. There may be many reasons for this, such as:
Individuals who fall into this category are encouraged by their physicians to do all they can to prevent their Hepatitis C from progressing to advanced liver disease. This usually involves healthy lifestyle choices that focus on nutrition and exercise, avoiding fat, sugar and processed foods, minimizing exposure to toxins, abstaining from drinking alcohol, supplementing with milk thistle or another liver protective herb, and loading up on antioxidants to prevent cellular damage. Gentle exercises like Tai Chi and Qigong can help too.
Adding acupuncture to this liver health plan increases its effectiveness even further. That is because regular acupuncture treatments can invigorate energy flow through the liver, a process that prevents congestion and inflammation. This is a major benefit, because congestion and inflammation in the liver are the physiological events that precede liver cell damage.
With the unified goal of staying as healthy as possible, it seems logical to utilize acupuncture alongside western medicine for a thorough Hepatitis C treatment plan. If taking a powerful drug cocktail to suppress Hepatitis C, acupuncture helps reduce the drugs’ side effects. This benefit increases the odds of successfully beating Hepatitis C by enabling people to complete the drug regimen. If waiting for a safer, more effective way to defeat the Hepatitis C virus, acupuncture can help protect liver health by deterring against congestion and inflammation. Either way, it’s hard to deny the inherent value this ancient alternative medical practice has for those with Hepatitis C
If you have any questions about how acupuncture could help you, or someone you know, let me know and I will try to help.
Chinese Medicine and the Treatment of Colds and Flu
With the autumn and winter seasons on the way what can an individual do when using Chinese medicine to help improve the immune system? What can be done to treat symptoms of Colds and Flu?
Chinese medicine is very effective in the treatment of Colds and Flu as well as playing a role in their prevention. Prevention is centered around strengthening the immune system. Acupuncture, exercise diet and getting proper amounts of sleep and rest can help do this. Strengthening the immune system can take a few years, give it time.
A healthy immune system is half the battle, you need to have a strategy to deal with a Cold when you come across one. According to the principles of Chinese Medicine, it’s best not to get the Cold in the first place as the immune system would be strong enough to deal with it. Second best would be to get rid of it before it takes hold. To do this, it’s best to eliminate the Cold when you encounter a person with a Cold or have the first sniffle or shivers. Colds and Flu are best dealt with using herbal medicine as these can be used by yourself anywhere and anytime. Two very common and effective herbal formulae are Yin Qiao San/Honeysuckle and Forsythia Powder, and Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan/Clear the Qi and Resolve Phlegm Pill.
Honeysuckle and Forsythia Powder/Yin Qiao San is very effective in the prevention of Colds/upper respiratory tract infections as well as in treating them in the early stages; that is, the first few days. Depending on the severity of the Cold and the state of the immune system at the time, taking this formula may completely deal with the Cold/upper respiratory tract infection at that stage. Because this formula is so effective and needs to be taken when you are first aware of a symptom of a Cold/upper respiratory tract infection, or if you are in contact with someone with a Cold/upper respiratory tract infection, it makes sense to have a supply in advance of the situation, as time is of the essence in treating this condition. Symptoms of a Cold/upper respiratory tract infection may include fever or chills, headache, thirst, cough, etc.
Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan/Clear the Qi and Resolve Phlegm Pill is used when the upper respiratory tract infection develops to a deeper level such as Flu or Bronchitis. Tests have shown that this formula will lower the temperature of the patient, which is significant when treating conditions like the Flu.
Both of these formulae are available from David Hankey Acupuncture and should be included in the medicine cupboards of anyone interested in using herbal medicine to help maintain health, and as a first step in treating symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. These are only two examples, there are others depending on the circumstances. Of course, anyone with more complicated or serious symptoms would need to see a herbalist to have a specific formula recommended for them. If symptoms persist or secondary symptoms develop a doctor’s advice may be recommended.
Another product is the Cough Bottles/Fritillary Bulb and Loquat Leaf Liquid, which is effective for symptoms of coughs, and Watermelon Frost, which is effective for symptoms of sore throats.
Acupuncture is also good for treatment. Cupping is very good if done when the first symptoms appear.
Of course prevention is always best, so it’s good to conserve energy which will help boost the immune system. In other words get enough sleep, eat healthily and get enough exercise without overdoing it. Stay warm as chills will also temporarily lower the immune system.
Be healthy, stay healthy. Treat the Cold or Flu in the early stages to prevent it’s getting worse. Treatment of Colds and Flu with TCM is possible and effective.
David Hankey Acupuncture
Practised in China for more than three thousand years, acupuncture is a part of a complete system of medicine known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncture is increasingly accepted throughout the Western World as an adjunct to or in place of western medicine. Other aspects of TCM include Herbal Medicine, manipulative therapy (Tuina/massage), diet, relaxation and special exercises (Qi Gong).
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine, sterile disposable needles at specific points on the body. In all treatments sterile, disposable needles are used.
Get in touch today to book your treatment.
David Hankey – Acupuncture Cork