St. John’s Wort- Herb/Drug Interactions, Part 2

St. John’s Wort- Herb/Drug Interactions, Part 2

 

I highly recommend St. John’s Wort for patients with mild depression who wish to utilize Western herbal medicine alone. However useful this herb is on its own, it is not to be used in combination with Western pharmaceutical medication without first consulting with the individual’s doctor. In addition, if it is approved for use alongside Western medicine, it should still be monitored carefully. St. John’s Wort should never be used at the same time as an SSRI’s, specifically because the combination can potentially cause Seratonin Syndrome. According to the American Family Physicians, in an article written April 1, 2005, “Serotonin syndrome is caused by a systemic excess of serotonin and is defined when at least three of the following signs and symptoms are present: mental status changes, diaphoresis, myoclonus, hyperreflexia, diarrhea, fever, tremor, incoordination, seizures, tachycardia, and QT interval prolongation.”

Due to a large amount of research done about Seratonin Syndrome, this contraindication is well known. However, there has been additional research that indicates that St. John’s Wort also has herb/drug interactions with other medications as well. According to an article published in the University of Maryland, St John’s Wort should not be taken with the following medications, without first discussing it with your doctor, “Antidepressants- tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs, and MAOIs, Antihistamines, Dextromethorphan, Digoxin, Drugs that suppress the immune system, Drugs to fight HIV, Birth control pills, Reserpine, Sedatives, Theophylline, Triptans, Warfarin.” In addition, the article goes on to state, “Because St. John’s Wort is broken down by certain liver enzymes, it may interact with other drugs that are broken down by the same enzymes. Those drugs may include Antifungal drugs…, Some calcium channel blockers (taken to lower blood pressure), Statins (drugs are taken to lower cholesterol).”

In conclusion, St. John’s Wort is an important herb to be aware of, so as to guard against potential drug-herb interactions. St. John’s Wort should be used with caution, if used at all, with Western herbal medicines. In addition, it would be best to also use it carefully, if at all, in combination with Chinese herbal medicines. A person should be monitored carefully when taking both St. John’s Wort and Chinese Herbal Medicines simultaneously.

Written by,

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

 

 

Bibliography

  • Paula Gardiner, MD, MPH, Russel Phillips, MD, Allen F. Shaughnessy, PharmD, January 1, 2008. American Academy of Family Physicians.  “Herbal and Dietary Supplement-Drug Interactions in Patients with Chronic Illness.”  Retrieved from:  http://www.aafp.org/afp/2008/0101/p73.html
  • Borrelli F, Izzo AA.  December 11, 2009.  National Institute of Health- Department of Experimental Pharmacology, University of Naples Federico II.  “Herb-drug interactions with St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum): an update on clinical observations.”  Retrieved from:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19859815

An Overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Part 1

An Overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Part 1

We have all taken medicine for a headache, insomnia, or a stomachache that only offered temporary relief.  The reason that the relief was temporary is that the root (or underlying cause) of the illness was not treated.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnoses and treats the root of an individual’s ailment through pattern diagnosis.  Today, I will inform you about the methods used by a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the pattern diagnostic utilized, and about how TCM prevents and treats illness.

In TCM, the individual is treated, not the disease. An underlying principle of Chinese medicine is that the body knows how to heal itself. The practitioner works to remove obstructions to health, support deficiencies, clear/drain excesses, etc. A person’s body will resolve the ailment once the practitioner is able to balance the pattern they demonstrate.

The methods used in TCM are Acupuncture, Herbal remedies, Tui-na (an invigorating Chinese style of bodywork, also used as a treatment modality for young children), cupping, Gwa Sha (which is a scraping technique used on the skin to pulls out toxins from the body- the marking that is made on the skin is called the “sha”), and Moxibustion (which is a compressed plant that is burned close to the skin and has a deeply warming effect on the body). All of these approaches utilize pattern diagnosis to treat the meridians (or energy pathways) and the organ systems of the body. Treatments are very safe and effective. A Chinese Medicine Classic, the Spiritual Pivot, states in chapter 17, “It is by virtue of the twelve channels that human life exists, that disease arises, that human beings can be treated and illness is cured.”

…To be continued in Part 2:

 

Written by:

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

Bibliography

 

  • “Acupuncture, a Comprehensive Text,”  The Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine, translated and editied by John O’Connor and Dan Bensky.
  • Giovanni Maciocia, “The Foundations of Chinese Medicine” pg. 127
  • Spiritual Pivot, Chapter 17, by Wu Nian Jian
  • Five Branches University education  (MTCM)

An Overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Part 2

An Overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Part 2

Traditional Chinese Medicine is able to treat the root (or source) of an illness because it utilizes pattern diagnosis. Pattern Diagnosis consists of tongue and pulse diagnosis, listening to the patient’s symptoms, and looking at the patient’s color and movement. According to Giovanni Maciocia in The Foundations of Chinese Medicine, pg. 127 “…the nature of the pattern is often related to its specific cause of disease.” The pattern that is looked for involves a combination of signs and symptoms that have a foundation in yin and yang theory. These patterns indicate that the body is hot or cold, deficient or excess, whether the illness is internal or external, etc. The pulse indicates the state of the organ systems, meridians, blood, qi (energy), yin (fluids of the body), and yang (body circulation and warmth). Looking at the patient’s tongue is like looking at a mirror of the patient’s body system and can indicate to the practitioner if certain channels and/or organ systems are hot or cold, deficient or excess, and more.

Chinese medicine is able to prevent illness before it occurs and to effectively treat an already existing illness. These treatments harmonize all parts of the person. The diagnostic methods utilized allow a practitioner to recognize a pattern of illness before it manifests symptoms for the patient. Because each person’s body is unique, a single western medicine diagnosis can have several different TCM diagnoses.

Yin and Yang are emblems of the fundamental duality in the universe, a duality which is ultimately unified,” as stated in Acupuncture, a Comprehensive Text from the Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine.

Written by,

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

 

Bibliography

 

  • “Acupuncture, a Comprehensive Text,”  The Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine, translated and editied by John O’Connor and Dan Bensky.
  • Giovanni Maciocia, “The Foundations of Chinese Medicine” pg. 127
  • Spiritual Pivot, Chapter 17, by Wu Nian Jian
  • Five Branches University education  (MTCM)

Support for Living a Healthy and Fulfilled Life with Asian Medicine, Part 1

Support for Living a Healthy and Fulfilled Life with

Asian Medicine, Part 1

“The oneness of all life is a truth that can be fully realized only when false notions of a separate self, whose destiny can be considered apart from the whole, are forever annihilated,” are the words of LiJunfeng, Sheng Zhen Wuji Yuan Gong in “A Return to Oneness.” Please support your family and friends by informing them about the benefits of acupuncture and herbal medicine. We are all connected with people who have ongoing health issues that inhibit them from living a full life. Today I will offer a perspective as to why the health of our body, mind, heart, and emotions is a key aspect of living a whole and fulfilled life. I will then talk about why Asian medicine is an alternative and support to Western medicine.

The health of an individual’s body, mind, heart, and emotions is an essential aspect of living a whole and fulfilled life.  Anyone who has ever experienced a chronic illness (physical, mental or emotional), or been in chronic pain can tell you how difficult it can be to enjoy their life, their relationships, and their family.

An individual is unable to fulfill their aspirations in life if they are decapitated by illness. This can intensify the ailment for the individual, because as said by Hicks, Hicks, and Mole in the text “Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture” in 2004, “…the Chinese consider it detrimental to people’s health not to achieve their potential as human beings.” The happiness of the individual is an aspect of the peace and unification of our families and communities.

…To be continued in Part 2.

Written by:

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

  • NIH: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9809733, 1998
  • LiJunfeng, Sheng Zhen Wuji Yuan Gong, “A Return to Oneness.” Manila, Philipinese: International Sheng Zhen Society, 1996
  • Chen EM, “Tao te Ching”. New York: Paragon House. 1989
  • Hicks, Hicks, and Mole, “Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture,” Churchill Livingston, 2004
  • Lu, H, “A complete tranlation of the Yellow Emperor’s classic of internal medicine (Su Wen)”. Vancouver: Academy of Oriental Heritage. 1972

Support for Living a Healthy and Fulfilled Life with Asian Medicine, Part 2

Support for Living a Healthy and Fulfilled Life with

Asian Medicine, Part 2

Asian medicine is complementary to Western medicine and at times offers an alternative or support to Western medical treatment and/or medicine. Western Medicine is very good for acute and emergency situations. Asian medicine is not appropriate for emergency situations.  However, it can treat some acute issues (such as colds/ flu, sprains, back pain, etc) without the negative side effects that medications, such as antibiotics or pain medications, can cause.   A comment from the NIH Consensus Conference in 1998, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9809733, “…promising results have emerged, for example, showing the efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain.” Asian medicine is very good for treating chronic conditions (in addition to many acute conditions). The extent of treatment that Western medicine can provide for many chronic conditions (such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and rheumatoid arthritis) is to prescribe pharmaceuticals. These medications very rarely resolve the source of a person’s illness and often have a negative side effect. There are certain chronic illnesses in which long-term pharmaceutical use is essential, such as thyroid replacement hormones, certain mental illnesses, and more. Often the individual is given an additional medication to treat the side effects of the original pharmaceutical (some patients are on a “shopping list” of 10 or more medications). I call this a biochemical nightmare! Asian medicine can successfully treat the side effects of many medications, without creating additional complications.

Asian medicine is non-invasive and is oriented toward harmonizing or balancing the patient. Acupuncture and herbal treatments are holistic, which means that there are rarely negative side effects. If a negative response does arise it can be treated. The person’s body and source energy are supported and strengthened through acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments. Lu H states in “A complete translation of the Yellow Emperor’s classic of internal medicine (Su Wen)” 1972- chapter 78 that “The way of medicine is so wide that its scope is as immeasurable as the heaven and the earth, and its depth is as immeasurable as the four seas.”

I have just discussed the importance of staying healthy so as to live a fulfilled life. I also discussed Asian medicine as an alternative and support to Western medical treatment. “The sage does not hoard. Having worked for his fellow beings, the more he possesses. Having donated himself to his fellow beings, the more abundant he becomes.” Chen EM, “Tao Te Ching”. 1989

 

Written by:

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

 

Bibliography

 

  • NIH: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9809733, 1998
  • LiJunfeng, Sheng Zhen Wuji Yuan Gong, “A Return to Oneness.” Manila, Philipinese: International Sheng Zhen Society, 1996
  • Chen EM, “Tao te Ching”. New York: Paragon House. 1989
  • Hicks, Hicks, and Mole, “Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture,” Churchill Livingston, 2004
  • Lu, H, “A complete tranlation of the Yellow Emperor’s classic of internal medicine (Su Wen)”. Vancouver: Academy of Oriental Heritage. 1972

What To Do Before and After Your Acupuncture Treatment

What To Do Before and After Your Acupuncture Treatment

Before:

acu2

  • It is essential to eat before a treatment to avoid feeling light, headed, dizzy, or faint.
  • It is best to eat something light 2 hours ahead of time.
  • If you don’t have time to eat 2 hours ahead of time, be sure to eat something before your treatment.  Please don’t eat a large or heavy meal  (meats, etc).
  • Also, be sure to drink water before and especially after your acupuncture treatment.
  • Try to avoid coffee, or other caffeine the day of your treatment.
  • Tongue diagnosis is an important aspect of Chinese medicinal diagnostics, so it is essential to not alter the tongue’s appearance before a treatment.

  • If you scrape your tongue, please do not scrape it before your treatment.

  • Avoid purple grape juice, candies that will dye your tongue a different color, or any other substance that will change the color of the tongue.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes to your appointment.

  • Try to arrive 10 minutes early, or on time. If it’s your first appointment, please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment to fill out paperwork. 

 

After:

  • It is ok to eat soon after your acupuncture treatment. It is probably still a good idea to not eat a very large or heavy meal. Be sure to eat!
  • Avoid alcohol on the day of your treatment.
  • Please do not do vigorous exercise after your acupuncture treatment.
  • The treatment continues to work even after you are no longer on the table. It is best to relax after your acupuncture treatment, if possible. Drink a lot of water. Taking a hot bath is also a great post-treatment ritual. If you have your acupuncture treatment before going to work, then try to avoid stress on that day.
  • Some people find that they are more sensitive after their acupuncture treatment. If you are going through a particularly emotional time, it may be useful to schedule your acupuncture appointment on a day and time when you don’t have any social demands afterward. This is not true for everyone and some people find going to work or socializing after acupuncture doesn’t bother them.

 

written by,

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

Bibliography

*Coursework at Five Branches University

Asian Medicine View of Digestive Health and the Earth Element

Asian Medicine View of Digestive Health and the Earth Element

IMG_4891

The transition between seasons, as well as the end of summer, are correlated with the earth element in Asian medicine.  The earth element represents what nurtures, cares for, and supports us.  It is associated with digestion- physically, mentally and emotionally.  It is the archetype of a mother, the great nourisher, and has its roots in the family.

If a person is deficient in the earth element they can have a weak digestion, chronic digestive issues, tendency toward loose stools, low energy, and more. They may also get sick every time the season changes. Often with the earth element imbalance will present with craving sugar and other foods that will tend to aggregate the earth energetics of the body. If the earth’s energy is weak, digestion can be easily aggravated by complex food combinations.
Another aspect of the earth imbalance can be excessive phlegm and/or dampness. This may present as weight issues, lung phlegm issues, and other digestive issues that are particularly aggravated by dairy, wheat, and sugar. These foods can be hard for anyone to assimilate if done in excess, but will especially aggravate a person with an earth imbalance. Emotionally, when the earth energetic is out of balance there can be a tendency towards over-thinking or excessive worry. If this imbalance is significant, the person may worry to the point of obsession.

When digestion is aggravated, it is important to avoid the following foods: spicy, greasy, peanuts, mango’s, raw, cold/or frozen, wheat, dairy, and sugar. Also, avoid complex meal combinations. It is a clear sign that balance has been restored when, after simplifying the diet for some time, trigger foods and/or complicated meals do not cause digestive upset and also when sugar cravings are absent or well controlled. A sign of emotional balance for the earth element is when a person can control the tendency to over-think or worry. In supporting the earth element energetically, it is important to nourish your body, home, and cultivate family/ community.

If the digestion is out of balance, acupuncture treatments and herbal formulas can be essential to help rebalance the digestive health. Foods that balance the earth element are: orange/yellow foods & bland foods, as well as meals that are deeply warming and also simple and easy to digest, such as conjee or kitchari. It can be rebalanced to the digestive system to eat simply. This is especially important post- stomach flu, parasites, candida, or any other acute stomach upset. Probiotics are also essential when rebalancing the digestive system. It is important to get an enteric coated probiotic so that it gets to your intestines before it is assimilated. A non-enteric coated probiotic will be broken down by stomach acid, so much of its value gets lost. A non-enteric coated probiotic is ideal for suppositories, but that is a whole other topic.

 

written by,

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

 

Bibliography

*Coursework at Five Branches University

How to Use Moxibustion

How to use Moxibustion

Moxa or moxibustion is an Asian medicine technique utilized to deeply warm acupuncture points and/or areas of the body.  Moxa is made up of the mugwort
moxaadjusted[1]plant.  The mugwort plant is known for its special deeply warming abilities, particularly when used in the form of moxibustion- as an external heat source.
Chances are that if you are reading this, you have been given moxa by your acupuncturist to apply at specific spots on your own body during the days that you are not receiving an acupuncture treatment.  If you have NOT been given this recommendation from a practitioner and have NEVER used moxibustion before and/or are wanting to experiment on your own, then I advise you NOT USE MOXA until you have received the guidance of a practitioner as to what points are appropriate to moxa.  I recommend this because there are many points on the body that are contraindicated to moxa and also because this therapy may be inappropriate for your specific body constitution.
If you have been asked to apply moxibustion by a trained practitioner, then here are a few reminders to go by when using this technique:
  • When using a stick of moxa: be sure to peel off the glossy outer sheath of paper that has print on it.  Keep the white paper underneath this sheath intact.  The white layer of paper is essential, as it holds the moxa in place and makes it possible to burn as a stick.
  • If using smokeless moxa: be sure to remove the plastic covering, if there is one.
  • For both smoking and smokeless moxa: light the tip until it burns red across the entire tip.
  • When warming a point or an area of the body, hold or circle the moxa about 1″- 1 1/2″ away from the skin.   NEVER touch this hot tip directly to the skin- you will get burned!  (Unless using a tiger warmer- a metal contraption that holds the moxa inside of it.  If you are using this, ask your practitioner for specific instructions.)
  • Keep the moxa over an area until the heat becomes too strong (don’t burn yourself!), then move to another area.  Can return to the same spot until the warmth has penetrated deeply and feels sufficient.
  • To put out the moxa stick: submerge in the center of a bowl of uncooked rice.  The rice will put the moxa out, because the hot tip will be deprived of oxygen.  You can also run water over the hot tip , however it may be hard to relight if you put it out with water.  Be sure that the tip is completely out.  It is not recommended to leave the moxa still burning in an ashtray, because it will likely continue to burn.  The moxa stick can create a strong heat.  Please be sure that it is completely out  before leaving the room, so that it does not start a fire.
Moxibustion is powerful tool that is deeply warming to the body.  Unless specified otherwise by your Asian medicine practitioner: Moxa should not be done on a person who has is having night sweats and hot flashes, is very hot bodied in constitution, during very hot days, on the face, on red/swollen areas of the body, over large blood vessels (aka large body creases) as found under arms/groin crease/behind knee/etc, if a person has diabetes, over numb areas of the body (you can burn yourself without knowing it).  Again please consult with your practitioner of Asian medicine before using moxa for the first time, and/or branching out and trying it on new areas that have not been recommended to you.

written by,

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

Bibliography

*Coursework at Five Branches University

Asian Medicine Wisdom for Postpartum Care, Part 1

Asian Medicine Wisdom for Postpartum Care, Part 1

 

*The postpartum mother and baby are strengthened, nourished, and protected by a warm and breeze free home!  If the house is breezy be sure to seal window’s, or take other preventative measures.  Encourage the mom to stay inside at home for as long as is possible to protect her and to rebuild her strength.

*Foods:

  • Bone Broth Soup is wonderfully nourishing and is high in minerals.  Cook on low heat for 12-24 hours if possible.
  • Vietnamese recipe for Pho: add star anise, fresh ginger, and cinnamon to be simmered with the bone broth.  These herbs are warming.
  • Conjee:  Replenishes fluids and is strengthening to the digestive energy and therefore to the body.  Conjee is essentially a rice soup.  Make rice with 2-3 times the amount of water.  Add veggies, meat, and spices as desired- to taste.  Try not to add fried foods or dairy.  “The Book of Juke” has many Conjee recipes.
  • Strengthening Foods are:  root veggies, chicken-builds energy, beef- builds blood (esp liver), red foods nourish the blood, warm nourishing foods.  *It is very important to avoid raw, cold, and or frozen food
  • It is wonderful if friends can rotate bringing meals that are scheduled ahead of time (before the birth).  This is important for community building.  Receiving support from family and friends help nourish the new mom.
  • Nettles and red raspberry leaves help to build the blood and minerals.
  • If ice was put on the perineum during labor: warm ginger tea soaks can help to reestablish healthy circulation.

 

…To be continued in Part 2:

written by,

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

 

 

Bibliography

*Coursework with Raven Lang: The Art of Obstetrics (helping women through all phases of childbirth and postpartum).

*Coursework at Five Branches University: Gynecology, TCM Dietetics, etc.

Asian Medicine Wisdom for Postpartum Care, Part 2

Asian Medicine Wisdom for Postpartum Care, Part 2

Since postpartum and mental illness is somewhat common, it is important to protect women who have just given birth.  Some simple ways to provide emotional support (if not severe):

  • Warm broths= esp. a bone broth
  • Nourishing and warm foods
  • Red Berries- good for the heart and emotions, especially Hawthorne berry
  • Fish oils and Vitamin B
  • Community is important!
  • It is important to have referral system set in place for more severe situations.

*Mother Roasting is done by burning moxa (which comes from the Chinese mugwort plant) close to the mothers lower abdomen and low back.  This plant has a deeply healing and warming effects on the whole body- unlike any other.  The heat relaxes and softens emotions, strengthens and tonifies the organs, stops bleeding, relieves pain and builds immunity.  It benefits the mother and the baby: healthy mom= healthy baby.  It is a good idea to call in an acupuncturist to perform the Mother Roasting.  Ideally, the Mother Roasting should be repeat 5 times within the first 2 weeks postpartum.

If unable to use moxa, because the mother is sensitive to smoke, etc, then hot rice packs, cloth, water bottle can be used.  These approaches will help to warm the mother, but are not as powerful as the moxa.

Caution: It is important to call in an acupuncturist or herbalist to perform the Mother Roasting.  If using moxa on your own, please make sure that moxa is completely put out post-use.  Do not use moxa on mother who has an infection and/or true heat signs (red eyes, red tongue, irritated, etc), or if the mother is very dry and/or having night sweats.

*If a woman had a difficult labor, is extremely depleted, or is having issues postpartum this is a great time to have her see an acupuncturist and herbalist to help resolve these issue and to strengthen her body.

written by,

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

 

 

Bibliography

*Coursework with Raven Lang: The Art of Obstetrics (helping women through all phases of childbirth and postpartum).

*Coursework at Five Branches University: Gynecology, TCM Dietetics, etc.