Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa's Blog

THOUGHTS ON WHOLEHEALTH WELLNESS…..VISIT US AT WWW.KHALSAMEDICINE.COM TO LEARN MORE

WholeHealth Wellness: the idea of balance June 24, 2011

When we talk about becoming healthier with WholeHealth Wellness, we talk a lot about balance.

Balance is a somewhat nebulous term and is often called harmony.  Our premise is that all human body processes are interrelated and they are in continual interaction with each other and with the environment.  A state of balance or harmony with these interrelationships is what we call health.  Disease is simply a pattern of disharmonies.

Symptoms and physical signs help the practitioner access what is out of balance and by helping to correct  the imbalances assist the patient to heal.  Imbalances can occur in many different forms, since we as humans are very complex and imbalances tend to be multi-factorial.

Any model or theory of health or disease is just a model and not what is actually there.  It is a simplification so we can analyze and act. The old saying is that “the map is not the territory”. Still, maps are very useful symbolic representations and can help us find our way from here to there.

Chinese medicine has various models for how we look at the world and what can be out of balance.  “Yin and Yang” is one of the most useful models.   Yin and Yang originally denoted opposite sides of a mountain.  In the morning, one side was in shade, the other in sunlight.  Later in the day, the sides reversed.  Yin and yang describe the continuous force of change and the intertwined nature of things; they symbolize balance and harmony in our perpetual interplay with our internal environments and our exterior environments.  Yin and Yang relationships are more than just opposites:  they support and require each other.  The traditional, circular yin and yang symbol shows the interrelated nature of yin and yang, where each flows into the next and each has a component of the other within.

Examples of yin and yang pervade the universe and illustrate that one cannot exist without the other.  Male and female, hot and cold, up and down, activity and rest, day and night, inside and outside, front and back….there is no end to the examples.  One can think of the action of a wave at the ocean with its ebb and flow.  More technically, think of the sine wave, where positive and negative polarities oscillate in rhythmic frequencies.

Some yin and yang examples:

Yin                                            Yang

Cold                                           Hot

Rest                                         Activity

Lower body                           Upper body

Inner body                             Outer body

Chronic diseases                  Acute diseases

Deficiency conditions         Excess conditions

When yin or yang dominates, disharmony and disease result.  Paying attention to yin and yang helps to assess balance and harmony, and also gives the practitioner insight into how to assist in restoring harmony.

We can go back to the Buddhist idea that attachment leads to suffering.  When this natural flow of yin to yang and back is blocked in some way (attachment), disharmony results and suffering or disease occurs.

The acupuncture meridian system is another very useful model of looking for patterns of disharmony.  Qi is the basic life energy or life force referred to in many traditions.  It can be considered the sum of all your body’s electrical, chemical, magnetic, and subtle energies.  Your body is nourished by, cleansed by, and dependent upon the flow of Qi.  Normal flows of Qi (and its yin counterpart blood) are the basis of good health.

The acupuncture meridian system consists of fourteen major channels and numerous minor channels.  These are interconnected and flow is normally continuous from one meridian to the next.  When the flow is blocked for some reason is when problems occur.  The meridian system provides a means for the body to balance itself between inner and outer, left and right, and up and down.  Acupuncture points are like switches and can be used to regulate the flow of energy along the channels and to their associated organs.

A very useful model that I use often is called “Eight Principals” in Chinese Medicine.  The eight principals are four yin-yang pairs of conditions:  excess/deficient, inside/outside, hot/cold, and damp/dry.  Chinese medicine uses these eight principles to access the location and nature of an illness.  Once this is known, the treatment often becomes obvious:  if the condition is too hot, cool it down; if the condition is too damp, dry it out.

Excess/deficient:  these terms describe too much or too little of some component of nature, disease or the patient.  Sudden illness comes from excess, chronic illness suggests deficiency.  Symptoms of excess are usually stronger than those caused by deficiency.  A severe sore throat suggests excess (viral and yang) while a persistently scratchy throat implies heat caused by a deficiency of coolness or moisture (yin).

Inside/Outside:  Does the disharmony originate from outside (yang) or inside (yin)?  Is it some exterior pathogenic factor such as airborne viruses, or a bacterial infection?  Exterior factors can penetrate the body and become interior diseases if our defenses are not strong or if we have created an interior environment open to the pathogenic factor.  However, some diseases are primarily interior creations and result from deficiency, emotions, or other forms of stagnation within the body.

Hot/Cold:  Hot and cold pairings refer to more than just relative temperatures.  A heat symptom could be something like hyperactivity or inability to rest and may not be reflected in body temperature.  Heat suggests an oversupply of Qi or an inadequacy of the body’s cooling system.  Cold suggests the opposite:  under-stimulation, poor flow, Qi deficiency or weak metabolic function.  Of course we can usually find examples of both present in the same person:  some aspects or regions will be too hot and some too cold.

Damp/Dry:  All life is dependent on moisture but too much is also not optimal.  Excessive dampness inside the body gives pathogenic factors such as bacteria or fungi an opportunity to multiply.  We see this excess moisture in the form of swollen tissue, water retention such as edema, or excess phlegm.  Dryness is the opposite and demonstrates a scarcity of fluids.  In dryness, there is not enough moisture to harmoniously sustain life; dryness can be both the cause and result of blood or yin deficiency.  So when conditions are too dry, we try to help them become more damp; if too damp, we try to make them more dry.

Whatever the pattern of disharmony, our role as a practitioner is to help bring the body/mind back to harmony.

There are many other models within Chinese medicine: the five elements is a major one that I don’t often utilize.  The twelve organs is a model that I do often use.

The point is that most models or maps have their uses. If the maps are accurate and are applied correctly, the patients find their way to better health.  Ultimately that is how we judge the usefulness of any theory:  does it help produce the results we want?

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PAIN, SUFFERING, AND THE ROAD BACK TO HEALTH July 23, 2010

Pain is one of the major reasons that people seek medical attention, and physical pain is responsible for about 25% of patient visits to our practice.  Pain is very mysterious… sometimes a small stimulus can lead to great pain and likewise, very simple treatments can often lead to great pain reduction.

For physical pain, I often use a technique called “Battlefield Acupuncture”; we insert small gold plated needles into the outer ears and pain intensity usually drops dramatically in a matter of minutes. We see this happening over and over again, even with people who have been in pain for months or years….how can this possibly work?  Read on for our explanation…

What is pain?  We know it when we feel it.   Pain is often defined as an unpleasant sensory or emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.  In a larger sense, pain can include emotional suffering not specifically tied to tissue damage, but to damage of any sort.  Pain may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable.  Duration and frequency of occurrence can increase our feelings of pain or suffering.

Pain can serve a very useful purpose to motivate us to withdraw from damaging or potentially damaging situations, protect ourselves while healing occurs, and to avoid the causes of pain in the future. Most pain resolves promptly once the painful stimulus is removed and the body/mind has healed, but sometimes pain persists despite removal of the stimulus and apparent healing of the body; and sometimes pain arises in the absence of any detectable cause.

The Western medical view is that physical pain is initiated by stimulation of nociceptors in the peripheral nervous system, or by damage/malfunction of the peripheral or central nervous systems. Traditional Chinese Medicine and other forms of Energy Medicine take a very different view:  We view pain as being primarily caused by a blockage of energy. There is an energetic network underlying our physical bodies. When this flow of energy is blocked or constricted for any reason, the body/mind senses this as pain. This applies to emotional suffering as well as physical pain.   (A classic statement of this concept for emotional pain is that attachment leads to suffering, but that is a topic for another day.)

On a physical level, pain causes our muscles to tighten, which in turn compresses the nerves and decreases blood flow.  The nerve compression can increase the feeling of pain, while the reduction in blood flow prevents tissue healing.  Pain caused by trauma is a little different since there is also an inflammatory component; in that case the swollen tissues can also reduce blood flow and compress the nerve endings.

Whatever the cause, reducing or eliminating the energy blockages reduces pain and speeds healing by increasing blood flow.  Emotional pain is more complicated, but restoring energy flow results in much the same results and reduces emotional suffering as well.

We use many techniques to remove blockages and restore energy flow in our practice: body acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy, electrical stimulation, yogic breathing, ear acupuncture,  and more.  We try to select the specific modalities that will result in the most rapid improvement for each individual.  For physical pain, I like Battlefield Acupuncture because of the often immediate and dramatic pain reduction it brings….please see our previous blog post about Battlefield Acupuncture for more specific information about this wonderful technique.

While no medical treatment works on everyone all the time, it seems clear to me that people are enduring far more pain and suffering than they need to.  Simple acupuncture techniques that restore energy flow can often dramatically reduce pain and speed recovery times.  Our own clinical results and twenty-five centuries of acupuncture history have demonstrated this over and over.

 

Chinese Herbal Medicine August 7, 2009

One of the most effective modalities within WholeHealth WellnessTM is the use of Chinese Herbal Medicine.  The term “Chinese Herbal Medicine” describes formulas which are made mostly from plants but can sometimes include mineral or animal products.  Depending on the herb, the roots, stems, bark, leaves, seeds, or flowers of plants both wild and cultivated may be used.  There are many hundreds of herbs and other medicinal substances that have been commonly used for almost two thousand years.  In school we learned about 400 of the most commonly used, but there are hundreds more. 

Chinese Herbal Medicine is very safe when properly applied, and usually much gentler in action than most pharmaceuticals.   When the right formula is used in the right way to correct imbalances, good results are often felt in days.  However, as with anything else, care must be taken.  For instance, a powerful purgative formula used on someone with a weak constitution would probably do more harm than good.  One of the great strengths of Chinese Herbal Medicine when properly applied is that the formula is individually fitted to the patient’s constitution as well as to their symptoms.

Herbs are generally decocted into teas or prepared in pill form.  For some conditions, they may also be used on the skin in the form of liniments, ointments or plasters.   For convenience, I mostly dispense herbs in pill form.  A few people receive bulk herbs to be prepared into teas.  Preparing herbal teas is actually the most effective way to take herbs and a way to tune the formula to a person’s very individual condition.  This is the traditional way that the formulas were prepared.   Ask to see some of the herbs we use the next time you are in the practice for an appointment.

While single herbs are sometimes used, usually an herbal formula will be composed of ten or more herbs carefully blended together to synergistically combine for very specific purposes.  One herb may be the principal herb, and other herbs may help guide that herb to specific areas of the body.  Over the two thousand year written history of Chinese Herbal Medicine some formulas have been used so often that they have been named and are commonly available in ready made pill form.   These are what we usually dispense. 

Some of these have very colorful names and poetic names.   Here are some of my favorites:

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang — Tonify the Middle, Increase the Qi Decoction

Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan — Kidney Qi Pills from the Golden Cabinet

Xiao Yao Wan — Free and Easy Wanderer Pills  

Tian Wang Bu Xin Tang — Heavenly Emperor’s Formula to Tonify the Heart

Shi Quan Da Bu Tang — Ten Flavors Great Tonification Decoction

Si Jun Zi Tang — Soup of the Four Gentlemen

Yu Ping Feng San — Jade Windscreen Powder

More on each of these and many other formulas in future postings.

 

Welcome! July 29, 2009

Welcome to Khalsa Integrative Medicine’s WholeHealth WellnessTM  blog.  I hope you discover that these thoughts are both interesting and useful.    My intent is to create a handbook for patient health and longevity. Some ideas I explain to almost every patient and since it is hard to absorb everything the first time, this is the place patients can go to for more explanation or a repeat explanation.    Eventually I will be expanding these entries and gathering them in a more organized and coherent way for a book.

 Over the last few years I have assembled a group of techniques that have enabled the surprisingly successful treatment of a wide variety of health conditions. This collection of protocols is called WholeHealth WellnessTM.

 The key to WholeHealth WellnessTM is our application of the oldest healing method in the world: Discover what aspects of the body/mind are out of balance.  Use various therapies to bring the unbalanced aspects into balance.  The body/mind will then heal itself.  Allow this healing to occur and repeat the entire process as needed.

 When the sources of symptoms are reduced or removed, healing can happen relatively quickly. Although the basic concept is very simple, finding and reducing imbalances can be somewhat complex.   As we practice this WholeHealth WellnessTM technique, the application includes acupuncture, yogic breathing techniques, enzyme therapy, herbal medicine, homeopathic medicine, kinesiology, energy psychology, and various bioenergetic clearing methods.

I will be discussing all of these and more in upcoming entries.   Please feel free to leave comments.  If you have a question, please leave a comment or e-mail me at DSK@KhalsaMedicine.com.

 

Battlefield Acupuncture

Filed under: acupuncture — Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa @ 7:12 pm
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I’d like to introduce you to a great new pain reduction technique that I learned recently.  It is called the Battlefield Acupuncture Technique and it uses a type of acupuncture called auricular acupuncture.   Tiny gold plated steel needles are inserted into the ear and remain there for three days.   Usually five or six needles are inserted and in many cases the reduction in pain is immediate and lasting.

 This technique was developed by Dr. Richard Niemtzow of the US Air Force based on earlier work by Dr. Paul Nogier of France.   Dr. Nogier’s discoveries were later incorporated into a Chinese system of ear acupuncture in the 1970’s and on.   Like body acupuncture, ear acupuncture has been done for centuries.  However, these refinements are relatively new.  Dr. Niemtzow’s protocol is now being taught to medics and doctors in the armed forces for use on critical missions.

 The ear is incredibly sensitive for no apparent reason.   There are about as many nerves going to the outer ears as to the hands; however the outer ears do not need the fine motor coordination of the hands.   Why so many nerves?   That is a topic for another day.  For now it is enough that there is a wonderful technique that often brings dramatic and immediate pain reduction.