As many of you know, I have studied for a couple of decades with Liu Ming, a teacher who inspires much of the philosophy I espouse here at the clinic. Ming has gotten high-tech and now has a Facebook page, blog, and YouTube channel. I recently found some audio of him speaking about the practice of medicine as self-cultivation and though it would be a propos to share it here. Enjoy.
Given that we’re in the midst of the holiday season, and are likely adding far more strange and atypical foods to our diet than at other times of year, I thought it apropos to put in some bloggage about food poisoning, and what can be done for it.
By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM
Every year millions of people suffer from bouts of vomiting and diarrhea due to food poisoning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are as many as 33 million cases of food poisoning in the United States annually.
While most cases are mild and pass so rapidly that they are never diagnosed, occasionally a severe outbreak creates a newsworthy public health hazard. The recent outbreak in the United States is such a case.
More than 11 weeks into the biggest Salmonella outbreak linked to fresh produce ever in the United States, a strain of Salmonella has sickened over 869 people across the country, causing tomatoes to be pulled from shelves and restaurants.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be of great help when it comes to relieving symptoms of and recovering from food poisoning. In most cases, the recommendation for food poisoning is to rest and drink plenty of fluids. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can actually relieve symptoms, hasten recovery and also strengthen the digestive system to prevent future incidents of food poisoning, avert the development of chronic immune deficiencies and increase energy levels.
What is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning is a general term for any illness arising from eating contaminated foods. Also known as foodborne illness, infectious diarrhea or gastroenteritis, food poisoning is generated by a variety of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites. The most common bacteria to cause food poisoning are salmonella, staphylococcus aureus, E. coli and shigella.
Food poisoning is marked by severe diarrhea, fever, cramping, abdominal pain, flu-like symptoms, vomiting and diarrhea. Most cases of food poisoning clear up on their own within a week without any medical assistance; however, it can take several months before bowel habits return to normal. Often the digestive system is severely weakened after a bout of food poisoning, making the infected person more susceptible to food poisoning in the future. A small number of persons with food poisoning develop an autoimmune disease called Reiter’s syndrome. It can last for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Food Poisoning
In Oriental medicine, food poisoning is recognized as dampness and heat in the stomach and intestines due to the ingestion of unclean food or drink. Traditionally, damp heat conditions were seen mostly in the summer months when heat and humidity are at their peak. It is interesting to note that the CDC confirms that most cases occur in the warm months between July and October.
Treatment of food poisoning is rest and hydration to prevent fluid and electrolyte loss through vomiting and diarrhea. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used to relieve nausea and vomiting, hasten recovery by assisting the body to eliminate the pathogen faster, and strengthen the digestive system to prevent any reoccurrences as well as the development of a chronic immune disorder.
Is your digestive system functioning as well as it could? Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are extremely effective at treating a wide array of digestive disorders. Call a licensed practitioner near you for more information or to schedule and appointment.
Points for Food Poisoning
Acupuncture treatments are aimed at draining dampness and heat from the intestines to remove the pathogen while simultaneously calming the stomach to stop nausea and vomiting. After the acute symptoms subside, treatments are focused on strengthening the digestive system and improving energy levels to bring about a full recovery.
While many different acupuncture points are used, depending on your specific symptoms and the state of your overall health, here are some acupuncture points that are commonly used to treat gastroenteritis:
Stomach 25 (St 25) and Ren 4 (Co 4) are two acupuncture points located on the abdomen around the umbilicus. They are used for abdominal pain, cramping and to drain heat and damp from the intestines.
Stomach 36 (St 36) is located on the shin, below the knee (see image above). It is a very powerful point used to adjust and balance the physiological activity of the digestive system and relieve stomach pain. It is one of the major points on the body for the GI tract. It triggers the body to increase the secretion of hydrochloric acid, dissolve food and move it out of the stomach and intestines.
Pericardium 6 (Pc 6) is located two finger breadths above the inside of the wrist. This acupuncture point alleviates nausea.
How to Prevent Food Poisoning
Here are four simple guidelines to ensure that your summer holidays are not memorable for all the wrong reasons!
Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill
Clean: Wash hands, surfaces, utensils and platters often. Rinse all produce in cold running water before peeling, cutting or eating.
Separate: Keep foods that won’t be cooked separate from raw meat and poultry. Don’t use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry.
Cook: Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria.
Chill: Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers.
* If you are ill with diarrhea or vomiting, do not prepare food for others, especially infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems since they are more vulnerable to infection.
Ginger for Intestinal Upset
Did you know that ginger is always served with sushi because of its ability to prevent food poisoning?
Ginger has been found to increase the secretion of gastric juice and the production of hypochloride. This means that food is digested more quickly; creating an unfriendly environment for bacteria that could wreak havoc with your stomach and intestines.
Ginger works as well at treating the symptoms of food poisoning as it does preventing them. In fact, ginger can be used for most digestive upsets that involve nausea, vomiting, cramping, abdominal pain, indigestion or diarrhea.
Whether your digestive problem is due to eating contaminated food, stomach flu, pregnancy or motion sickness, ginger is one of the most effective agents around!
By Elie Goldschmidt, L.Ac., TCM Directory
Are licensed acupuncturists (L.Ac,’s) more adept when it comes to the ancient healing practice than any other practitioner performing acupuncture? Based on the training and education needed for licensure, the answer is yes. There are vast differences in the qualifications among “acupuncturists,” which is why it’s essential to seek treatment from a licensed practitioner.
To meet the acupuncture demand in the West, more and more individuals have jumped on the traditional Chinese medicine bandwagon. It can be confusing to determine who is fully trained and qualified when you’re combing through Google results to find an acupuncturist near you. Potential patients should be wary of those who perform acupuncture with a certification, as opposed to a license. Let’s take a look at how different classifications measure up.
Dry needling, which involves inserting needles into trigger points to relieve muscle pain, can be performed by certified physical therapists in some states. Certification entails a brief training course. In some cases, this training lasts for a mere weekend in sharp contrast with a licensed acupuncturists’ training, which is equivalent to a master’s degree. Would you let a surgeon operate on you after a two-day stint in medical school? Hopefully not. Yet, the majority of these practitioners are equally lacking in knowledge and they still wield needles. While proponents argue that dry needling is not acupuncture and there are differences, the basic premise that needles must be placed at a precise spot for healing is the same.
Supporters of crash courses believe that the treatments are safe and un-licensed practitioners are skilled enough to conduct them. However, a 2006 case study published In Motion, as cited by the Maryland Acupuncture Society, begs to differ. A certified practitioner caused a pneumothorax, or a collapsed lung, in a patient when dry needling trigger points. The study authors concluded that, “while acupuncture is generally considered a safe procedure with low risk of serious complications, such risks are directly related to the amount of training the practitioner has undergone and decrease with increased hours of required training.”
When Guild Insurance Limited, a provider of malpractice insurance for physical therapists, reviewed the liability claims related to the incident they found that over the course of one year the cases of pneumothorax due to dry needling had increased. This was in conjunction with the increase in physical therapists performing the procedure over the same time span.
Dry needling isn’t the only safety issue. Once medical professionals caught on to the popularity of holistic medicine, they quickly added “medical acupuncture” and “chiropractic acupuncture” to their menus. When these terms are used it refers to practitioners who are certified. This is not the same as licensed. A physician or chiropractor only undergoes 300 hours of training or less. Much of this is comprised of home study. Very little, if any, actual patient treatments are required for certification. Medical and chiropractic practitioners do not need to pass the national certification examination or complete continuing education courses.
Because a medical or chiropractic degree hangs on the wall, the lack of training is often overlooked. If a licensed acupuncturist performed chiropractic adjustments after such abbreviated training, it would be disastrous. Of course you would be certain that a chiropractor is more qualified and effective. The same holds true when the roles are reversed.
A study conducted by the Institute of Community Medicine in Norway found that chiropractors and physicians with little training pose a serious risk to patients. The 14-year study uncovered 193 patients who reported adverse side effects from acupuncture. The majority of these individuals consulted certified, not licensed, practitioners. The study’s authors noted that three people died from medical acupuncture treatments due to the doctors’ “inadequate acupuncture education.” Similar to the case related to dry needling, the experts also determined that pneumothorax is the most common mechanical organ injury tied to medical and chiropractic acupuncture. A career in medicine doesn’t mean that a doctor has perfected the exact placement of needles or the depth of penetration.
To decrease the likelihood of adverse side effects look for those three little letters after a practitioner’s name: L.Ac. This denotes that they are a licensed acupuncturist who has successfully completed more than 2,000 hours of education in Chinese medicine and acupuncture, which is equivalent to three to four years of schooling. Potential acupuncturists must attend an accredited college or school of acupuncture with master’s level on-site training and engage in several hundred hours of supervised clinical practice. Not to mention, unlike their medical counterparts, they must successfully pass the national certification exam and complete regular continuing education courses. The amount of knowledge garnered throughout the intensive program far outweighs what can be gained in any weekend workshop or home study course.
Acupuncture is an art and a science based on thousands of years of clinical practice. A qualified acupuncturist has honed their expertise in Chinese medicine theory, energy and organ systems, treatment procedures, safety protocols, the endless number of precise meridian and acupuncture points, and needling techniques. This is all in addition to learning a completely new and unfamiliar diagnostic criteria.
After years of education and training in the Western medical model, a physical therapist, physician, or chiropractor will typically follow the path they know, which often runs counter to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. For example, a licensed acupuncturist will take a holistic approach and view the body as a whole to find an underlying cause of their ailment, as opposed to just addressing symptoms. Traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes that the mind, body, and spirit are interconnected. Western medicine views each organ and system separately and targets the symptoms and not the underlying cause. This means that the diagnosis and treatment may be different depending on whether one sees a licensed or certified acupuncturist.
The technique, philosophy, fundamentals, and precision necessary to practice Chinese medicine take years to perfect. Most certified acupuncturists don’t have the knowledge to translate the tenants of Eastern medicine into a holistic, effective treatment. Licensed practitioners know acupuncture and Chinese medicine inside out. They create a treatment that is customized to each individual. Medical and chiropractic acupuncturists often use a one-size fits all approach.
People who receive acupuncture from someone without a license may subsequently develop a negative view toward the practice. Patients often find treatments by practitioners with minimal training to be painful or uncomfortable and in many cases don’t experience any benefits. This is dismaying to licensed acupuncturists. A qualified, licensed practitioner can diagnose a patient, target the acupuncture points most effective for that individual, and perform a well-executed, comfortable treatment. This will offer powerful healing properties, balance the body systems and energy, and improve health and well-being.
Don’t fall trap to “hobbyist” acupuncturists. Experience the powerful holistic, healing practice to gain relief from a large variety of conditions, unlock the flow of your energy, and restore the natural balance, health, and rhythm of the body. The public needs to know that visiting a licensed acupuncturist is a must. It’s a matter of public safety and also ensures that patients are not deprived of the potentially life-changing benefits of acupuncture.
Yoni Freedhoff, a doctor and professor at the University of Ottawa, was uninvited to a food industry breakfast three days before it was slated to happen. So he changed his schedule, cancelled his classes and moved his patients, and wrote up a speech. Shortly thereafter, he was un-invited, perhaps because his views would not agree with those of his hosts. So, instead of presenting his talk to the food industry he made a video of it and posted it to his Weighty Matters blog, in which he writes about all things food and obesity. In the video he discusses “what the food industry can do to improve public health, why they’re not going to do it and what we can do about it.”
The rant goes after the advertising of misleading, “healthy”-seeming products.It’s less than 15 minutes long and may be seen below…
Many new studies are checking out the effects of our constant barrage of information and what it’s doing to our brains and bodies. I often notice that I’ll check email on my phone or read the New York Times in the tiny bits of time I have while waiting in line for a movie or at a restaurant before food arrives. Some research now points at the emerging fact that taking time out allows our brains to process information and aids our memories in recording and analyzing experience. Check out today’s New York Times article, reported from San Francisco, for more…
As a patient, and as a doctor, I’m frustrated. No, that doesn’t really say it. I’m pissed off. I’m angry about the way people are treated by their doctors, their HMOs, PPOs, even their health savings accounts. I’m angry about the way that people are treated because they’re not treated as people at all. They are units of currency, pieces of meat sitting on butcher paper in ill-fitting robes, feet dangling off the end of the table. Vessels into which pills will be poured. Skin-bags full of blood and bones who may or may not fall into that class of people who can handle anti-depressants or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories just long enough for the body to take care of itself anyway.
Walk into most medical clinics, most hospitals, and you will be greeted not with a friendly face and an empathic look, but by a stoic head behind a sliding plate glass window and a room full of other folks solemnly leafing through weekly newsmagazines. Show up on time and wait an extra hour for your appointment with the ‘expert’ on you; someone with whom you’ve spent less cumulative time interacting than the barista who makes your lattes. This person, whose wall tells you more about themselves than they do, will ask you to disrobe and divulge some of your most challenging, private, embarrassing issues in the comfort of a small, cold room through which thousands of people have come before you.
You’ve been living with pain for too long, and it’s interrupting your way of life to such a degree that you’ve been forced to choose this route. The one where a state-certified authority will tell you who you are, what’s happening inside of you, what you should be doing instead, and what the likelihood is that you’ll ever again be the person you were before or would like to be in the future. After all the waiting, filling out forms, and being shepherded through various doors, you will have a few minutes between you and your practitioner to solve your problems.
Pills. A referral. A shot of cortisone, a nerve block. Perhaps a surgery, followed by physical therapy. Maybe some massage, exercises you’ll never do, and then…
That hopeless feeling. It didn’t work. Now it hurts not only where it used to hurt, but in new places, too. You have to take medication indefinitely, some with side-effects that add to your growing list of problems. The sleep cycle is off. Exhausted all the time. Eating habits change. Not able to do what you used to do. “I’m falling apart. It’s happening all at once. What’s happening to me? Maybe I’ll try some unusual forms of medicine. My friend’s mother has a chiropractor she swears by. That guy on TV said acupuncture saved his life.”
At this point, you may be realizing that the medical system is just that: a system. “A complex of methods or rules governing behavior;” “an organized structure for arranging or classifying.” (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn) Your behavior since you’ve started this journey has been governed by rules you have barely questioned. You have been classified by a medical system as someone with a certain complex of diagnoses, who has therefore been run through a discrete set of steps in search of a standard outcome. That outcome is your health, and what you may begin to realize is that it didn’t ‘work;’ that there was always a lot of hope involved. Hope that your medical practitioners and their expert advice would reclassify you with new words and push you out the other side as a whole person again.
Now that you have been processed through the medical digestive system and have come out feeling like crap, you may also come to understand what all experienced practitioners know. Namely, that every time we as practitioners see someone, no matter what we name the condition or how we treat it, we are hoping that our suggestion or intervention will work or appear to work. We’re bluffing–doing a complex, shamanic dance. We’ve read books on what has appeared to work before, what constitutes a legally-defensible treatment for your condition. We’ll modify your identity, your sense of who and what you are, by attaching long descriptive subtitles to your name from a big book, perhaps two or three names. Once we’ve done that, then we will start a war against your new subtitled identities, using anti-identities such as anti-biotics, anti-inflammatories and the like, hopefully without adversely affecting your own natural antibodies. It’s the standard of care. It worked for other people. It worked in test tubes and on animals of different species, so maybe it’ll work for you as well. If it doesn’t, you must be doing something wrong. Try an anti-depressant and maybe you just won’t think about it so much anymore. You think too much, anyway.
Where’s the humanity in all of this? Where did medicine lose its way? When did doctors become mortal gods, and why isn’t anyone protesting the fact that the puppet-masters of medical treatment are not trained medical professionals or anyone with your best interests in mind, but insurance companies and lawyers, who determine what kind of care you are permitted based on your ability to pay and how uncreative the doctor can be in treating you? Because creativity in medical practice, having an open mind, saying “I don’t know” or “let’s try something new,” may mean expensive tests and extra liability. Because malpractice insurance is so expensive that doctors need to see as many people as fast as possible just to pay their bills. It’s so much faster to write a prescription for drugs or to send someone to other people than it is to actually look someone in the eye, get creative, or tell a patient what you know. Which may be something as simple and truthful as, “I don’t know.”
At a certain point, as a consumer of healthcare, you begin to see the Matrix (like the movie of the same name). Having experienced much of what the system has to offer and yet still being symptomatic, you see that the people who wore the white coats and have the offices full of news magazines are just agents of hope, but not necessarily agents of change or even health. It didn’t work for you, anyway. The blinders are now off, the system has been exposed, and a period of deep disappointment, disillusionment, and perhaps depression ensues as you begin to question yourself. “In what other important areas of my life have I fundamentally given over my trust? What do I have faith in that perhaps I should not? Is hope really just a precursor to disappointment? What should I believe in now, and how can I ever prove that what I trust is worthwhile?”
This is the moment of truth. This is the bend in the road, the threshold, the choice. Will you choose to drop into depression, continue to allow yourself to be a hopeless subtitled character, walking through the world barely protecting the tiniest flame of hope that perhaps someone, somewhere is the expert you’ve been looking for? Or will you take the other path, the harder one, the hero’s journey. The one that has not been charted, because you have to walk it alone, relying only on yourself, your inborn knowledge and wisdom to be your light through the dark. Finding your own internal and external resources. Connecting to others in your situation. Being your own primary source and being the master of your destiny.
You’ve read this far, so I’ll give away the ending. The goal of health, and its very definition, is not to be out of pain, or “all better.” It’s about flexibility and quality of life. In Chinese medicine, the term “Qi” is thrown around quite a bit. It’s a word, a character, that cannot be wholly and accurately translated into English, but one way of looking at it is to call it ‘function.’ Qi is both the capacity and the realization of function. Something without Qi is medically dead. Health is about focusing on what you want, need, and are able to do, how you function in the world. It is not a focus on what’s missing, what hurts, except to the degree that the hurt keeps you from what makes your life worth living. A good medical practitioner, a wise one, will focus not on curing you (something none of us, when we’re honest, know how to do). They’ll focus on maintaining your quality of life. On helping you get back to what keeps you getting up each morning. You may be forced to take permanent detours. You may have to stop walking and learn to swim. You may have to learn to do things without one of your parts being as involved as it used to.
Is this view a bad one? Does it mean our medical system is falling apart? That those who are not helped by the current system are doomed? We have our opinions about what constitutes good medical treatment in this day and age, but in the final analysis, a full medical journey is near its end when we return full-circle to ourselves. When we realize that there is no real safety net. That doctors and nurses and physical therapists and acupuncturists are tools, nexuses of specialized information that may or may not be a propos to our individual condition and fate in this world. When we realize that we are indeed all alone, and yet, there are billions of us, side-by-side, in the same communal situation, we’ll understand the nature of our reality.
We all have our own hero’s journey offered up to us. Will we embark on the road less traveled, the risky one without established signposts empowered by ourselves? Or will we continue on the path of flickering hope that someone else will magically save us from ourselves? Either way, the path ends in the same place, and the way we look back on our journey will be through the lens of the quality of the lives we lived to get there.
Treat yourself. Be your own expert. Redefine what health is, and you may be surprised to find that you were healthy all along.