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

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

 

…Continuation from Part 1

 

            I highly recommend St. John’s Wort for patients with mild depression whom wish to utilize Western herbal medicine alone.  However useful this herb is on it 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 with 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, in-coordination, seizures, tachycardia, and QT interval prolongation.”

Due to the 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 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

1460 G Street, Arcata, CA 95521

(707)822-7400

 

 

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
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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 because 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 body work, 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

1460 G Street, Arcata, CA 95521

(707)822-7400

 

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

…Continuation of Part 1:

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 patients tongue is like looking at a mirror of the patients 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

1460 G Street, Arcata, CA 95521

(707)822-7400

 

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 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 a 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

1460 G Street, Arcata, CA 95521

(707)822-7400

 

 

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

Asian Medicine View of Digestive Health and the Earth Element

Asian Medicine View of Digestive Health and the Earth Element

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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 family.

 

If a person is deficient in the earth element they can have weak digestion, chronic digestive issues, tendency toward loose stools, low energy, and more.  They may also get sick every time the season changes.  Often times 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 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 a period of 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 is able to 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 con jee or kitcheri.  It can be rebalancing to the digestive system to eat simple.  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 get all the way to your intestines before it is assimilated.  A non-enteric coated probiotic will be broken down by the 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

1460 G Street, Arcata, CA 95521

(707)822-7400

 

Bibliography

*Coursework at Five Branches University

Moxa: How to Use Moxabustion

Moxa: How to use moxabustion

Moxa or moxabustion 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 that is known for its special deeply warming abilities, particularly when used in the form of moxabustion- 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 moxabustion 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 moxabustion 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 all the way 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.
Moxabustion 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

1460 G Street, Arcata, CA 95521

(707)822-7400

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 warm in nature.
  • 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

1460 G Street, Arcata, CA 95521

(707)822-7400

 

 

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.