Preparing for Spring with the Help of Asian Medicine, Part 1

Yasmin Spencer, LAc, DAOM

  Preparing for Spring with the Help of Asian Medicine

photo2[1]A Five Element View:

In preparing for spring it is important to begin with an understanding of how each season affects every other.  Our sense of balance, as we go into the spring, is intricately connected to whether or not we took the time to rest in the winter (restore, be still, and go inward).  Spring is associated with new growth and expansion–the time when the seeds begin to sprout and push upward to the sun with force.  Likewise, there may be escalated agitation in individuals as the springtime inspires the urge to move forward and grow after the encapsulation of winter.  New growth is dependent upon the rejuvenation of our deeper sources that occurred in the winter.  Spring is associated with the liver in Chinese Medicine and with the emotion anger.  The liver energy, when balanced, smooths our emotional energy.  The…

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Preparing for Spring with the Help of Asian Medicine, Part 2

Yasmin Spencer, LAc, DAOM

Preparing for Spring with the Help of Asian Medicine, Part 2

…Continuation of Part 1:

Liver Patterns:

When the liver energy is in balance we are able to make decisions and follow through with our creative visions.  This is a great time of year to begin new projects.  When the liver energy is deficient we may lack the ability to make decisions or follow through with them.  On the contrary, when this energy is excessive we may become “work-aholics,” so determined to accomplish our goals that we neglect our needs or our personal relationships.

Physically, this is a time to assess the health of our nails, tendons and eyes.  Nails should be strong and smooth with good color; not brittle or grooved.  Tendons should be supple, flexible and strong.  The eyes should be clear and bright, without yellow or red in the whites.  Emotionally we can assess our health by witnessing if we are…

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Reoccurring Colds, Chronic Bronchitis and How Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Can Help, Part 1

Yasmin Spencer, LAc, DAOM

Reoccurring Colds, Chronic Bronchitis 

and How Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Can Help, Part 1

There are many reasons that the lungs become susceptible to sickness. The lungs often become weak due to damage caused by a serious illness, especially if the illness was never completely resolved. Many people report that they were rarely sick, until they got one bad cold or flu, and now they are sick often. This is because the integrity of the lung tissue was compromised through the illness causing a person to be prone to reoccurring sickness. A Chinese medicine view is that the “Qi” of the lungs and the “Wei Qi” defense was damaged, causing the lungs to be vulnerable to external pathogens. There can also be lung weakness in individuals who have or have had asthma, had a serious illness when young, were exposed to toxic environmental pollutants or molds that damaged the lungs, or…

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Reoccurring Colds, Chronic Bronchitis and How Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Can Help, Part 2

Yasmin Spencer, LAc, DAOM

Reoccurring Colds, Chronic Bronchitis 

and How Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Can Help, Part 2

Chronic bronchitis, which is a tenacious cough with phlegm that is deeply-seated in the lungs (at times with concurrent infection), can also be caused by lung weakness due to the reasons mentioned above.  More often, however, this sort of cough is due to inappropriate diet, lifestyle, and/or treatment of a cold or flu. It is important to avoid raw or cold foods/drink, as well as to avoid dairy, wheat, and sugar when sick.  These foods create more phlegm and can prolong a sickness. If the individual already has a cough with a lot of phlegm and they consume these foods, it can potentially create more dampness that further lodges the phlegm into the lungs.  Smoking while sick can also deepen phlegm into the lungs, damage the lung tissue, and make a person prone to reoccurring sickness…

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Lifestyle and Diet for a Cold or Flu: An Asian Medicine View, Part 1

Yasmin Spencer, LAc, DAOM

Lifestyle and Diet for a Cold or Flu: An Asian Medicine View, Part 1

In preventing a cold or flu an important place to begin is to make sure to wear the appropriate clothing for your environment.  It is important to have clothing layers on hand if your live in an environment where the temperature fluctuates often.  There is a higher likelihood of catching a cold on a windy day, especially when there is a combination of wind, cold, and/or damp weather.  A simple solution is to wear scarves to protect you against wind.  It is also important to sleep enough, in particular when feeling vulnerable, or if prone to sickness.  Be sure to close all windows at night before sleeping to prevent dampness from entering your house and body.  It is essential to manage stress and not push yourself if already feeling vulnerable to catching a cold or a flu.

Treat any cold/ flu…

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Lifestyle and Diet for a Cold or Flu: An Asian Medicine View, Part 2

Yasmin Spencer, LAc, DAOM

Lifestyle and Diet for a Cold or Flu: An Asian Medicine View, Part 2

…Continuation of Part 1:

Consuming an appropriate diet is essential in quickly resolving an illness.  It is beneficial to sweat out a sickness, especially during its initial onset.  It is also beneficial to strengthen the bodies Qi (energy) as a sickness preventative.  It is important to avoid dairy, wheat and sugar, as well as cold/ raw/ and/or frozen foods.  If exposed to wind, rain, and/or cold: consume hot spicy soup to help sweat out the potential sickness (this can also can be done during the initial onset of a cold).  Another technique that can get rid of sickness right away is to drink a lot of warm to hot temperature water and then to go to sleep early during the initial onset.

Chicken soup is a European folk remedy for colds and flu.  The Chinese medicine…

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Acupuncture Related Research- Key Issues and Concerns

Acupuncture Related Research- Key Issues and Concerns

In this scientific era tested results, proof that something is effective, is often valued over first hand experience.  Western research relies upon standardized protocol and isolating variables, so as to obtain reliable results.  This is a legitimate and understandable approach when desiring concrete and repeatable outcomes.  However, when utilizing this method to test the validity of acupuncture, this approach can create erroneous and misleading results.  One of the strengths of acupuncture lies in its ability to individualize treatments.  Asian medicine views the person as a whole and does not isolate symptoms when treating.  Since every person with a specific syndrome will have a different pattern diagnostic, it is inappropriate to give the same treatment.  Why? … because the internal cause of a disease is unique to the individual.  We aren’t all the same.

It gives misleading results when acupuncture related research standardizes treatments for specific aliments.  This approach essentially turns acupuncture protocols into a Western medicine approach to treatment; in which, just like a prescription medicine that would be given for a specific ailment, a certain acupuncture protocol is given.  Although research done in this way has shown some positive results for acupuncture treatments, it is still an incorrect way to approach acupuncture treatment protocols.  An aspect of what makes acupuncture and Asian medicine such a powerful tool is because of its ability to custom fit treatments to the individual’s needs.  Since the individualized treatment is not measurable or repeatable amongst a group, it is hard to fit traditional acupuncture into the Western scientific approach.  It is kind of like trying to fit a circular peg into a square hole.

When standardized regiments are given, there is the possibility that the treatments will be inappropriate to the specific individual’s in a study.  This is especially true if an individual is very weak.  If an aggressive treatment protocol is utilized on a weak patient, it can further aggravate their syndrome.  Therefore, standardized protocols should be used with discretion.  Since there is an ethical concern in mistreating a patient, research done with set protocols should be examined closely before implemented.

When acupuncture treatments are standardized, significant diagnostic tools, such as tongue and pulse diagnosis are not utilized. These tools are viewed by most practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine as an essential aspect of providing a correct treatment that is tailored to fit the individual.  Also, some acupuncture research has tested for therapeutic results utilizing incorrect procedures and/or lengths of treatment.  There have been a number of studies that have tested a single point only, rather than a group of points as is traditionally done.  Also, many studies have administered acupuncture treatments for 15 minutes or less and/or only given one treatment rather than a group of treatments.  This length of time and amount of treatments may not be enough to elicit a true therapeutic result.  These are significant issues that need to be addressed within the acupuncture related research that is currently being done, because an incorrect treatment has the potential to give false and misleading results.

I have recently heard about some research that has allowed the acupuncturists to do a differential diagnosis and individualized treatment for each patients within the research project.  This approach offers a more adequate representation of the effectiveness of acupuncture and though it has a weakness in repeatability and isolating variables amongst a group, can offer greater reliability of results as to the efficacy of acupuncture.  It is my hope that, in the years to come, acupuncture related research will make it a standard practice to allow for differential diagnosis and correct treatment protocols.


written by: Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM

1460 G Street, Arcata, CA 95521




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