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26 Jul


  • I practice Qi-gong and Tai Chi. The physical and psychological benefits of these practices have long been documented and known. Even if I experienced Qi, I have often wondered is this real or a suggestive fantasy? In this blog I begin with a typical criticism of Qi and then present articles and research summaries  by current researchers about the scientific exploration of Qi/Chi/Ki. I will add items as time goes on.

Typical non-scientific challenge called The Myth of “Qi”

If, like us, you are concerned about the problem of “qi”, we’d like to hear from you. We cannot promise to post every link we are sent, but we do intend to provide links to articles or sites concerned with this matter. You could be a scientist who thinks the whole “qi” phenomenon is a load of pseudo-scientific claptrap, a concerned religious voice who thinks that the use of so-called “internal energies” is morally wrong, or a martial artist who thinks that it is time to get real in our martial practice and work to eradicate silly and even downright dangerous myths and superstitions. Like us, you might have multiple concerns. We think that the time has come to put the myth of “qi” under the triple microscopes of science, religion and rational martial practice. Surely there is no room to sit on the fence. However, many people do just that, without really thinking through the issue of whether or not they have a consistent religious or spiritual justification for what they are doing. In 21st century culture, people’s souls are up for grabs, whether you are into Qi-gong, Reiki, Yoga. Experiencing “qi” (usually in the form of physical sensations) is somewhat akin to the seeing of ghosts.


“The effects of qigong have been well documented in scientific qigong research both inside and outside of China. It has been definitely established that qigong can cure diseases and induce a number of extraordinary functions in human beings. The current scientific qigong experiments are very limited in scope-many areas have not been studied. And the areas studied have merely focused on ordinarily measurable phenomena. In fact, there are possibly many more, deeper and even more perplexing phenomena yet to be investigated. As for monitoring and measuring qi, I think that modern scientific methods do have limitations. In other words, the whole modern scientific paradigm, including its theories, technologies, and precision instruments are very restricting.” Dr. Yan Xin                                                                                                                                    ——————————————————————————————————

“Scientific qigong experiments at the initial stage can only produce natural-philosophical hypotheses which are crude, pale, and without proofs and predictions. More and better-quality experiments will obviously build up the ground for further improvement of this situation. Qigong scientists should always remind themselves that science is developed through the process of negating itself. The past qigong experiments have posed problems which are difficult to be explained with existing scientific knowledge.” Lu Zuyin                                                                                                                                                                              ——————————————————————————————————-

Qi-gong through the science lens

Numerous reports have suggested the existence of Qi-gong energy and its biological effects (Sancier et al., 1991; Lu, 1997). Qi-gong currently draws much attention from not only traditional Chinese medicine researchers but also conventional scientists (Ziegler, 1999), and Qi-gong healing is seemingly becoming more accepted as one of the next possible candidates for complementary or alternative medicine, following acupuncture (Sancier et al., 1991). Unfortunately, many reports are described in Chinese or Japanese, and most of these might be considered flawed, since they were undertaken without appropriate masking (blinding) and/or randomization procedures. However, an extensive and systematic review of previous reports allows us certain insights into Qi-gong energy and the application of conventional scientific methods to the study of this subtle energy.

Various aspects of Qi-gong energy have been studied by different investigators. These include reports on the electroencephalograms (EEGs) of Qi-gong practitioners (Weixing et al., 1994; Zhang et al., 1988; Liu et al., 1990; Xu et al., 1998) and the effects of Qi-gong on human physiological and pathological conditions, and also the study of cellular activity, such as cellular proliferation (Sancier et al., 1991; Lu, 1997; Sancier, 1996; Trieschmann, 1999; Shah et al., 1999; Chien et al., 1991; Wu et al., 1999).

Qi-gong energy as a magnetic field

Although it is quite difficult to detect Qi-energy using conventional physical measurement techniques, many reports have described specific approaches which detect Qi-gong energy as a magnetic field, far-infrared or photon (Chien et al., 1991; Seto et al., 1992; Hisamitsu et al., 1996; Benford et al., 1999; Machi, 1995; Usa et al., 1995; Lu, 1997). The most notable among them are reports asserting that Qi-gong practitioners emit a strong magnetic field from their hand or head (Hisamitsu et al., 1996; Benford et al., 1999), and the enhancement of natural killer cell-activity in vitro (Yamamoto et al., 1996). Surprisingly, it has even been reported that Qi-gong energy can be stored in various materials (Omura, 1990), despite there being no rational physico-chemical explanation for such an observation at present. At the same time, electromagnetic fields have been found to have a stimulative effect on the phagocytic activity of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) (Roy et al., 1995; Gapeyev et al., 1997; Papatheofanis, 1990; Khadir et al., 1999). Microwave or laser irradiation of PMNs has also been shown to enhance their phagocytic activity (Kiel et al., 1986; Dima et al., 1996). Furthermore, recent physico-chemical studies have demonstrated magnetic effects on electrolyte solutions (Oshitani et al., 1999; Oshitani et al., 1999) and their physiological effects (Ayrapetyan et al., 1994), and it has been shown that an aqueous solution pre-exposed to microwave irradiation influences K-Ca channel activity (Fesenko et al., 1995). These reports suggest a “memory effect” in which magnetic effects remain for a considerable period after magnetic exposure is completed (Oshitani et al., 1999; Oshitani et al., 1999; Ayrapetyan et al., 1994; Fesenko et al., 1995; Adair, 1999; Velizarov et al., 1999). Preliminary experiments carried out by Matsumoto and his colleague suggested that external Qi-gong treated phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) has a stimulatory effect on the phagocytic activity of human PMNs assayed by the highly sensitive chemiluminescent method (Kataoka et al., 1997).

However, these experiments were not performed with masking and randomized conditions and also large variations in phagocytic activities of PMNs between PMN-donors were not accounted for in the analysis. These several lines of evidence prompted a rigorous series of experiments in masked and well-controlled conditions to demonstrate the effect of external Qi-gong treated PBS (referred to as Qi-gongized PBS) on the phagocytic activity of human PMNs using the highly sensitive chemiluminescence assay method.


But first, what is Qi?

Qi is one of the most mysterious elements of Oriental medicine. It cannot be seen, touched, or smelled. Nevertheless, the curing of patients by acupuncture depends on and results from this invisible flow of qi. The doctor and I made the following interpretation. The twisted ankle had prevented blood circulation; hence, the ankle was very cold initially. After healing, the blood could circulate more easily again, and the ankle became warm. The next day, she met me and happily told me that her foot felt much better from the healing.

At the close of that demonstration I explained the whole process of emitting qi, receiving qi, and healing in terms of quantum theory. (Please consult my book for details of this explanation.) Clearly, there is no mystique in either acupuncture or Qi-gong. These ancient, empirically valid methods have genuine physical and biological effects. Their theoretical foundations and explanations lie in modern physics.

In conclusion, I contend that the infrared imaging technique is not only a scientific research tool for measuring the effects of externally transmitted qi that can yield new quantitative results; this method is a tool that can prove to any skeptic the very demonstrable effects of qi in healing.

* Detailed results and references are presented in the author’s book, Biophysics Basis for Acupuncture and Health By Yin Lo, PhD


And, what is Ki? Scientific evidences about the “Ki-effect”

“Ki-energy (life-energy) is believed to increase the immune activity of its practitioners. It has also been shown to cause neuropsychological effects. We undertook this study to obtain objective and scientific evidence as to whether or not a Ki-effect could inhibit the growth of cultured cancer cells.

Cultured human liver carcinoma cells, HepG2, were used. A Japanese Ki-expert held his fingers toward the cells in culture dishes for 5 or 10 min. After culturing for 24 hr, we measured cell numbers, protein concentration per cell, certain mRNA expressions and the synthesis of regucalcin. The results were compared with those for control cells (non-treated cells).

We found that the number of cells in the Ki-exposed groups were less than those in the controls by 30.3 and 40.6% with 5 and10 min Ki-exposure, respectively. The protein content per cell in the Ki-exposed groups (5 and 10 min) was higher than that in the control groups by 38.8 and 62.9%, respectively. These results were statistically significant. Using RT-PCR, we found that the mRNA expression for c-myc, a tumor stimulator gene, was decreased, while that for regucalcin, which suppresses DNA synthesis, was increased. Our molecular biological studies and mathematical model analysis demonstrated that Ki-energy inhibited cancer cell division. The data also indicate that the Ki-effects involve some form of infrared radiation from the human body. This study suggests the possibility that Ki-energy may be beneficial for cancer patients because it suppresses cancer cell growth, and at the same time, it stimulates immune functions of the patients.” Tomoko Ohnishi

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Results of a vigorously designed three-year study that she conducted suggest that test-tube cells grew better when people trained in reiki touch therapy passed their hands over the containers.

They did not touch the test tubes, or warm them, or affect them physically in any known way, Gronowicz said.

She was stunned. And puzzled.

The tightly controlled study suggests that patients could physically benefit from some sort of energy emanating from the skilled human hand.

“This is quite astonishing to me”, Gronowicz said. How do humans interact with biofields?

The University of Connecticut Health Center study was financed by the National Institutes of Health center for complementary and alternative medicine, and published in the Journal of Orthopedic Research. Gronowicz said she has come to accept the idea of biofields and would like to collaborate with a physicist to study them.


Philadelphia Biomedical Research Institute, King of Prussia, PA 19406, Department of Biochemistry and

Biophysics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA andSchool of Nishino Breathing Method, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150, Japan

We investigated whether Ki-energy (life-energy) has beneficial effects on mitochondria. The paradigm we developed was to keep isolated rat liver mitochondria in conditions in which they undergo heat deterioration (39C for 10 min). After the heat treatment, the respiration of the mitochondria was measured using a Clarke-type oxygen electrode. Then, the respiratory control ratio (RC ratio; the ratiobetween State-3 and State-4 respiration, which is known to represent the integrity and intactness of

isolated mitochondria) was calculated.

Without the heat treatment, the RC ratio was >5 for NADH linked respiration (with glutamate plus malate as substrates). The RC ratio decreased to 1.86-4.36 by the incubation at 39C for 10 min. However, when Ki-energy was applied by a Japanese Ki-expert during the heat treatment, the ratio was improved to 2.24-5.23. We used five preparations from five different rats, and the significance of the differences of each experiment was either P <0.05 or P <0.01 (n¼ 3-5).

We analyzed the degree of lipid peroxidation in the mitochondria by measuring the amount of TBARS (thiobarbituric acid reactive substances). The amount of TBARS in heat-treated, no Ki-exposed mitochondria was greater than that of the control (no heat-treated, no Ki-exposed).

However, the amount was reduced in the heat-treated, Ki-exposed mitochondria (two experiments; both P <0.05) suggesting that Ki-energy protected mitochondria from oxidative stress. Calcium ions may play an important role in the protection by Ki-energy. Data also suggest that the observed Ki-effect involves, at least, near-infrared radiation (0.8-2.7mm) from the human body.


An in vitro study reported by investigators at the University of

Oklahoma with co-authors from the University of Sherbrooke,

Harvard Medical School, and the National Institutes of Health

stands out in that it claims dramatic and reproducible effects.

This group tested whether treatments by a well-known Qi-gong

practitioner can protect rat brain cells from cell death induced

by oxidative stress in the form of exposure to hydrogen peroxide

(H2O2). Their findings suggest that Qigong treatments can reproducibly

block the damaging effects of H2O2 to such a degree

that they outperform pharmaceutical compounds currently in

use as protective agents against oxidative stress.


Ki-energy (Life-energy) Stimulates Osteoblastic Cells and Inhibits the Formation of Osteoclast-like Cells in Bone Cell Culture Models, Ohnishi ST

Some practitioners of the Nishino Breathing Method (NBM) were found to have a higher bone density than the average values of age- and gender-matched non-practitioners. Using bone cell culture models, we investigated a possible mechanism behind this observation. For the study of bone mineralization, we performed the following two experiments using cultured osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cells:

  1. Kozo Nishino, a Japanese Ki expert, sent Ki-energy to the cells once for 5 or 10-min after they were seeded in culture dishes in the presence of 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS). They were incubated for 72-h and the cells were counted. The number in the dish with 10-min Ki-exposure was significantly greater than that in the control (P < 0.01 with n = 8). We performed a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) study using these cells, but the mRNA expressions did not change significantly.
  2. (ii) After cells were incubated for 72-h without Ki-exposure (in the presence of FBS), they were further cultured for 48-h (in the absence of FBS) to promote differentiation. At the beginning of the second culture stage, Ki was applied once for 10-min. After 48-h, RT-PCR was performed. The mRNA expressions which are related to bone mineralization, such as Runx2, -1(I) collagen, alkaline phosphatase and osteocalcin, increased significantly (P < 0.05 and n = 4 for all). For the bone resorption study, we used mouse marrow cultures, which can form osteoclast-like cells in the presence of (1-34) parathyroid hormone (PTH), and stimulate resorption. We exposed these cells to Ki-energy twice for the duration of 5 or 10-min on day 0 and day 4. On day 7, the cells were counted. The number of osteoclast-like cells in dishes with Ki exposure was significantly smaller than those in control dishes (P < 0.05 with n = 5). The difference between 5-min exposure and 10-min exposure was not statistically significant. All of our data suggest that the Ki-effect on osteoporosis should be further explored.


The meridian phenomenon

Many express doubts about the existence of meridians and qi. In fact, all people have meridians, and although they cannot be seen or touched, under certain conditions they can be sensed. Chinese scientists have found that about 1 % of people are meridian-sensitive. Chinese scientists have tested the objectivity of the meridian system using modern scientific experiments. A scientist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences devised a highly sensitive instrument and found that meridians are in the form of lines that give out luminescence. They emitted 2.5 times more photons than non-meridian points on the body. Meridians are points, normally forming lines, on the human body where electrical resistance is lower than adjacent areas. When injecting a trace element into a meridian, the trace element will travel through the meridians into the body and then diffuse. Professor Li Dingzhong, a famous Chinese skin scientist and expert on meridians, observed 305 cases of skin diseases where lesions occurred along a meridian line. The discovery caused a great shock to the international medical profession. His book Meridian Phenomenon was published in Japan.

Healthy Organs For a Healthy Life

22 Jul

Two events promoted me to write this bog. First, in my last blog on Traditional Chinese Medicine, I was interested in how TCM places great importance to the health of the organs of the body through both diet and exercise. I noticed how this approach was quite different from the typical, popular health exercise and diet discussion in the USA and other western countries which almost never discusses the health of the body’s organs. However, I believe that the TCM perspective is valuable and so I decided to further explore what exactly Western health experts say about organ wellness.

Secondly, the other day I was talking to a friend about healthy living and I commented on how I noticed that many Western health exercise programs emphasize only muscle/skeletal and in general cardio vascular exercise for fitness. I said we also need to be aware of the health of the body’s organs because actually most of serious health problems are located in the organs not in our muscle-skeletal system. My friend laughed and said “The organs, what can you do for the organs?” so, for the above two reasons, this blog explores what some American experts say about it.

Notice: This blog is only an interested person’s view and should not be taken as medical advice or recommendations. I write this blog purely from my interest in health promotion and to stimulate thought and discussion on organ and the body’s health. Since health research is always updating itself, some of this information may now be out of date- please update from current professional sources. May everyone be well and happy as much as possible through our own self care.

Since this is a long blog, I split it into five parts.

Ways to Take Care of Your Liver

Health Lifestyle: Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly help the liver to work well. Eating an unhealthy diet can lead to liver disease. For example, a person who eats a lot of fatty foods is at higher risk of being overweight and having non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  Eat foods from all the food groups: grains, protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables.

Eat foods that have a lot of fiber such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, rice and cereals

Limit the Amount of Alcohol You Drink: Alcohol can damage or destroy liver cells. Liver damage can lead to the buildup of fat in your liver (fatty liver), inflammation or swelling of your liver (alcoholic hepatitis), and/or scarring of your liver (cirrhosis). For people with liver disease, even a small amount of alcohol can make the disease worse. Talk to your doctor about what amount of alcohol is right for you.

Manage Your Medications: When medicines are taken incorrectly – by taking too much or the wrong type or by mixing – the liver can be harmed.

  • Learn about medicines and how they can affect the liver
  • Follow dosing instructions

Talk to a doctor or pharmacist often about the medicines you are taking

Avoid Breathing in or Touching Toxins: Toxins can injure liver cells.

  • Limit direct contact with toxins from cleaning and aerosol products, insecticides, chemicals, and additives in cigarettes

Do not smoke

  • Take care with aerosol sprays. When you use an aerosol cleaner, make sure the room is ventilated, or wear a mask. Take similar protective measures when spraying insecticides, fungicides, paint and other toxic chemicals. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Watch what gets on your skin. When using insecticides and other toxic chemicals, cover your skin with gloves, long sleeves, a hat and a mask. Wash off any chemicals you get on your skin with soap and water as soon as possible.
  • Eating healthy foods for the liver can improve and support liver function on a daily basis. Having a healthy liver results in greater energy and general well-being.
  • A poorly functioning liver can result in tiredness, headaches, bad breath, allergies and intolerances, problem skin and weight gain.

Foods that are healthy for the liver fall into two main categories.

  • First are those that promote the detoxification process of the liver. And second, are those that are high in antioxidants and therefore protect the liver while it’s carrying out its detoxification processes. Below is a list of the top eight foods that are considered to be good for your liver.
  • Garlic contains allicin which is a sulphur-based compound needed by the liver for effective detoxification. Garlic helps the liver rid the body of mercury, certain food additives and the hormone oestrogen.
  • CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage).
  • These vegetables are very powerful detoxifiers of the liver. They contain chemicals that neutralize certain toxins such as nitrosamines found in cigarette smoke and aflotoxin found in peanuts. They also contain glucosinolates that help the liver to produce enzymes it needs for its detoxification processes.
  • Drinking freshly squeezed lemon juice in a cup of boiled water first thing in the morning helps to cleanse the liver and promote detoxification. It also stimulates bile production, cleanses the stomach and bowel and stimulates a bowel motion.
  • BEETROOT (BEETS). It’s a blood-purifying tonic that is also capable of absorbing heavy metals.
  • In a study done by the US Department of Agriculture at Tuffs University, it was found that the following list of fruits had the highest levels of antioxidants (in descending order): Prunes, raisons, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, pink grapefruit, cantaloupe, apples and pears. Antioxidants help to protect the liver from the high levels of free radicals that are naturally produced during the process of detoxification.
  • Apples contain pectin that bind to heavy metals in the body (in particular in the colon) and help their excretion. This reduces the load on the liver and its detoxification capacities.
  • Increases bile production. One of the jobs of bile is to remove toxins through the bowel, as well as ‘unfriendly’ micro-organisms. It has been suggested that 30 minutes after eating globe artichoke, bile flow is increased by over 100%. Artichoke contains both liver-protective/restorative powers. It acts as a blood purifier and has been proven in clinical studies to lower cholesterol, triglyceride levels and other metabolic waste products
  • BITTER LEAFY SALAD GREENS (dandelion, chicory, endive, rocket).
  • The bitterness of these foods helps to stimulate bile flow within the liver.

Top 10 tips for a Healthy Liver and Lymph

Your liver has many functions; stores certain vitamins, minerals and sugars for use as fuel, cleanses/filters the toxins out of your blood and controls the production/excretion of cholesterol. Your overall health and vitality, to a great extent, depends upon the health of your liver. The thousands of enzyme systems that control virtually everybody activity are created there. If your liver fails to create even one of these enzymes, overall body function is impaired, creating greater metabolic stress on your body.

THE LYMPH composed of Lymph fluid consists of; the ’tissue fluid’ in which all of our cells are bathed, and the fluid within the ‘lymph vessels’. These are ‘blood vessel’ like tubes, which connect the lymph glands of the body. The Lymphatic System is also called the Immune System.

Modern lifestyles can overstress your liver. Alcohol, tobacco, environmental pollutants, food additives, agricultural pesticides, popular cosmetic ingredients, common household products, stress, pharmaceutical and OTC (over-the-counter) drugs (including oral contraceptives and caffeine), gallstones, home repair materials, artist materials, garden chemicals and building materials can all kill liver cells.

Symptoms of liver imbalance include headaches, bruising easily, anxiety, depression, confusion, fatigue, jaundice, impaired libido (sex drive) and mental function, food allergies, multiple chemical sensitivities and PMS, as well as conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. When your liver is damaged it cannot remove toxins, which then build up in your blood and eventually, your brain.

Try the following tips for a healthy liver and lymph:

Avoid any foods of which you suspect you may be intolerant: They will produce toxins in the gut that can cause stress to the detoxification mechanisms. Bacteria, viruses, too much alcohol, coffee and other caffeine-containing drinks, smoking and the medicines that have powerful effects on the liver, stomach and other parts of the body can prove toxic Chew your food well to help release the enzymes that aid digestion. Consume plenty of foods containing: Consume plenty of foods containing foliate, flavonoids,magnesium, iron, sulphate and selenium and B-vitamins, 2,3,6 and 12, since toxicity in the body can be caused by deficiency of the nutrients that the liver needs for detoxification as much as by exposure to toxins. Think along the lines of salads, beans, fresh juices, stir-fries cooked in a little good-quality olive oil, nuts, seeds, yoghurt (full-fat is fine). Steaming is a quick and healthy way of cooking vegetables, and the only vegetables to avoid are potatoes. Aim for a diet build on complex carbohydrates  (brown rice), lean protein(beans, lentils, eggs, chicken, fish and a little lean red meat) and organic fruits & vegetables. Cut down on stimulants: such as tea and coffee, and depressants such as smoking & alcohol. Aim at drinking at least 2.5 liters of water a day.

Eat foods rich in antioxidants: which aid the natural detox mechanisms like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts and Soybean products. Nutrients that enhance our immune system areVitamin C, Vitamin E, the B-Vitamins, Zinc and Magnesium. These nutrients are either potent anti-oxidants capable of stopping the free-radical cascade of tissue damage or are involved in the enzymes that help detoxify damaging chemicals. Rest and feel good! :

One more really good way to boost your immune system and it’s free.

Laugh, Rest and feel good!  A depressed mind can cause a depressed body.

Laughter actually increases production of an antibody that is responsible for our first line of defense against bacterial infections. Laughter, lovemaking and exercise are great medicines. Over time, the health of the liver and lymph may be restored. Taking beneficial herbs regularly and following a detoxification process can help to provide protection to either the sick or healthy liver during the course of daily life. This stabilizes cell membranes and encourages the regeneration of liver cells destroyed during their normal functions. Overview Poor nutrition is rarely a cause of liver disease, but good nutrition in the form of a balanced diet, may help liver cells damaged by hepatitis viruses to regenerate, forming new liver cells. Nutrition can be an essential part of treatment. Many chronic liver diseases are associated with malnutrition. Watch the Protein To quickly determine your daily protein in grams, divide your weight in pounds by 2. Too much daily protein may cause hepatic encephalopathy (mental confusion). This occurs when the amount of dietary protein is greater than the liver’s ability to use the protein. This causes a buildup of toxins that can interfere with brain function. Protein is restricted in patients with clinical evidence of encephalopathy. However, controversy exists regarding the type of protein a diet should contain. Vegetable and dairy protein may be tolerated better than meat protein. Medications, such as lactulose and neomycin, may be used to help control hepatitis-related encephalopathy. Due to the body’s need for proteins, protein restriction should only be undertaken with a doctor’s advice. Watch the Calories. Excess calories in the form of carbohydrates can add to liver dysfunction and can cause fat deposits in the liver. No more than 30% of a person’s total calories should come from fat because of the danger to the cardiovascular system. To figure out your daily calorie needs, you’ll need a minimum of 15 calories a day for each pound you weight. Watch the Salt Good nutrition also helps to maintain the normal fluid and electrolyte balances in the body. Patients with fluid retention and swelling of the abdomen (ascites), or the legs (peripheral edema), may need diets low in salt to avoid sodium retention that contributes to fluid retention. Avoiding foods such as canned soups and vegetables, cold cuts, dairy products, and condiments such as mayonnaise and ketchup can reduce sodium intake. Read food labels carefully as many prepared foods contain large amounts of salt. The best-tasting salt substitute is lemon juice.

Watch Vitamins A and D Excessive amounts of some vitamins may be an additional source of stress to the liver that must act as a filter for the body. Mega-vitamin supplements, particularly if they contain vitamins A and D, may be harmful. Excess vitamin A is very toxic to the liver. Beware of Alcohol You’ll need to stop drinking completely to give your liver a break – a chance to heal, a chance to rebuild, a chance for new liver cells to grow. This means avoiding beer, wine, cocktails, champagne, and liquor in any other form. If you continue to drink, your liver will pay the price, and if your doctor is checking your liver function tests, it may be hard to determine if a change in a test means there has been damage to your liver due to the disease itself or because of the alcohol. Beware of Alcohol and Acetaminophen Acetaminophen is an ingredient in some over-the-counter pain relievers, and is contained in many over-the-counter drugs used for colds or coughs. Taken with alcohol, these products can cause a condition called sudden and severe hepatitis which could cause fatal liver failure. Clearly, you should never combine these two substances. If you have any doubt about what medicines to take simultaneously, ask your doctor. Beware of “Nutritional Therapies” Herbal treatments and alternative liver medicines need to undergo rigorous scientific study before they can be recommended. “Natural” or diet treatments and herbal remedies can be quite dangerous. Plants of the Senecio, Crotalaria and Heliotopium families, plus chaparral, germander, comfrey, mistletoe, skullcap, margosa oil, mate tea, Gordolobo yerba tea, pennyroyal, and Jin Blu Huan are all toxic to the liver.

Be Well and Happy!


Traditional Chinese Medicine and Promoting our Holistic Health

20 Jul

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Maintaining Homeostasis

The most accepted homeostasis definition is the body’s ability to maintain a stable state of healthy function. Homeostasis is how your body maintains a steady temperature pattern, a stable flow of blood through the body, which provides optimal nourishment and oxygen to the cells while effectively whisking away toxins, and how your body maintains a healthy intake of oxygen and disposal of carbon dioxide. Essentially, homeostasis is the whole of your body’s efforts to maintain optimal health and proper balance.

Recently, I read the book, ‘Healthy Aging’ edited by Ping-Chung Leung. The book is a compilation of studies and articles published in the Annals of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). While this book is dedicated to aging, the approach of health maintenance is for everyone. The translation of the Chinese system of health promotion is offered as ‘Natural Healing’ and another is the maintenance or promotion of Wellness. I offer also ‘Maintaining Homeostasis’ to try to capture the overall spirit of the Traditional Chinese approach which refers to the maintenance of health without specific drug or other means of treatment. Instead, health promotion uses natural means in the physical, physiological and psycho-social aspects of living through careful planning of food intake, life style and exercises. This complete system of self-regulated health maintenance which began in Ancient China is uniquely Chinese.

In this blog I will highlight ideas that I found to be useful in especially differentiating a TCM approach to health promotion vs. the common western approach. I have been doing t’ai chi, qi gong as well as other Chinese internal exercises for many years.

In an ancient classic of Chinese Medicine, Ne-jing, the goal of excellent health and longevity is accomplished by maintaining a perfect state of physical and physiological health and a harmonious state of psycho-social wellbeing. These three components are all interlinked. While the concepts Ying and Yang and Qi are essential in understanding the Traditional Chinese approach, this blog won’t explore their complexities for space reasons. Instead, I want to look at the practice of maintaining homeostasis.

The ‘Natural Healing’ of TCM has a broad approach which covers health maintenance, wellness and prevention of falling ill. To only give a very brief overview here regarding food, western nutritional theory emphasizes the macro- and micro-nutritional contents of foods, such as proteins, fat, sugar, minerals, vitamins and fiber. By contrast TCM food theory is based on a system of ancient medical theories with classification of four natures (cool, cold warm and hot in terms of the response of the body) and five tastes (salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and acrid in terms of flavor when ingested). The food choice depends on a number of considerations i.e., the body constitution, climate, geographical location and health and/or illness circumstances. The very basic principles of balanced nutrition means a regular diet of simple food according to need (never over eat), choice of a balanced diet devoid of rich (fatty) varieties and a smart choice of vegetables and fruits which possess both nutritional as well as health promoting value.

Two common practices of maintaining homoeostasis are T’ai Chi and Qi Gong. To first talk about Qi Gong, it helps to harmonize three important components: Qi, Jing (balanced secretion) and Shen (spiritual esteem). Qi Gong consists of stretching movements and respiratory control using extra-long inspiration and extra-long expiration simultaneous with the stretching movements. Diaphragmatic breathing and other combinations are used while also squeezing the anal sphincter at will.

TCM considers the harmonization of the physical, humoral and mental activities indispensible so meditation is also considered an essential component. The skillful practitioner attains tranquility of the mind while stretching is performed with controlled breathing. These three aspects work together and support one another. This ‘moving meditation’ rests the central nervous system, frees it from motor and sensory inputs (except from the comforting limb movements), relieves it from complex memories, and protects it from emotions and problem solving requirements. The assumption is: with this tranquil mental state, a reorganization of neurological activity can take place that initiates a neurological establishment of harmony and re-organization of the humoral state.

T’ai Chi consists of the same three components (stretching, controlled breathing and meditation) as qi gong but instead of the qi gong individual postures, t’ai chi uses a system of set chained activities. The T’ai Chi symbol shows the Yin-Yang natural law of the universe which possesses perfect harmony and balance. Therefore, practitioners obey the law of balance between light and heavy, slow and fast, weak and strong, (etc), maintain well controlled breathing, avoid jerky motions, over strenuous movements, etc. Every movement is synchronized with respiration. The concerted contractions of the muscle groups requires gentle oxygen intake and then join together and converge into a state of qi establishment.

Both qi gong and t’ai chi practice have been medically evaluated for their health promotion benefits and in this book several studies are cited. Results indicate that both improved musculoskeletal strength, balance, cardiac function, respiratory function, cardiovascular function, type 2 diabetes, hemoglobinA1c mental ability, bone health and density, cardio-pulmonary function, hypertension, immune function, some hormone deficiencies, and mood.

TCM Natural Healing or, as I call it, maintaining homeostasis is different from most western approaches as a promotion of wellness and longevity. TCM health promotion can be achieved by a relatively easy, regular, low cost, and freely modified innovative practice of stretching exercises, controlled breathing and meditation. Wellness is certainly available to almost all.

Aerobic exercise, as well as weight training, is popular in Western countries and engages a comprehensive training of muscle-skeleto-cardio-and pulmonary function, these are all normal day to day physiological functions. Differently, t’ai chi and qi gong produce extra-ordinary neurological stimulations which are very beneficial in a number of ways. Also, strenuous aerobic training has been shown to create joint and cartilage damage while qi gong/t’ai chi doesn’t. In my opinion, another significant difference between a strenuous western workout and the TCM workout is the emphasis on balance and harmony which is so important to Chinese exercise but not in a Western workout. The TCM emphasis creates a very beneficial attitude not only toward one’s body/mind but also one’s interaction with the world/environment.

A Western attitude toward exercise is crude, mainly emphasizing the major muscle groups and pulmonary-circulation system. It is mainly competitive both towards one self and often others. The attitude then is harsh and in a way ascetic, perhaps reflecting a Christian attitude toward the body. For many fitness practitioners, the body is viewed as an instrument to manipulate and govern. No wonder so many exercisers use drug enhancement to exploit the body into unnatural growth. Also, this domination attitude is clear by many Westerns turn to extreme sports to “push the body to its limits” as a personal testimony of ego prowess. However, in the end this attitude and practice is damaging to the body, even fatal.

On the contrary, TCM encourages a harmonious practice towards the body, the mind, the world and even spirituality. It promotes balance, mind/body unity and a holistic understanding of the complete person which includes the maintenance of harmony with the outside environment and society. Any use of herbs is done only in a holistic understanding that when you introduce a strong substance into the body, one must be aware of the interactional effects on the complete system. TCM is a systems approach to health promotion and maintenance. This reflects major cultural differences between the Western and TCM approaches. TCM is an approach that makes much more sense to me especially in the light of modern discoveries in biology and science that strongly supports system, ecological and holistic thinking. Since health promotion is also illness prevention the need is not to focus only on single pathologies but the focus includes an individual’s genomic make-up, psychological state, personal habits, social behavior and environmental situations that are important for the maintenance of harmony.

As a clinical psychologist I am also familiar with the burgeoning research on the health benefits of meditation. The mind/body approach is being accepted and used much more in psychology as a viable theory for understanding and treating psychological and physical disturbances. The TCM approach is difficult for many westerners to accept because it is culturally very different. However, I believe now that TCM and maintaining homeostasis, in all its complexity that I cannot go into in this short blog, has much to offer everyone – not only in maintaining physical health but spirituality and psychological wellbeing since these are all intertwined. So homeostasis should also be understood as that condition for the body which maintains health through spirituality, physically and psychologically – looking not only at the internal interactions of the body but also holistically and in an ecological and systems perspective.