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    Traditional Chinese Medicine is a fully integrated system of theory, diagnostics and treatment that can address virtually any health condition.

  • Health

    A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being beyond merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

  • One of the side benefits of my treatment at Oregon City Acupuncture is the holistic view they have of care. I am not just treated for pain or inflammation. I am treated as a whole person and when I leave, I feel more centered and in tune with who I really am. — CC

  • For the first time in many, many years, I am able to really be comfortable in my body throughout my day and find joy in life.  I have an extensive history with western medicine, having had many surgeries and been treated by many doctors.  However, nothing has given me the benefits I receive from acupuncture and Chinese herbs. — CC

  • From the first visit, we noticed improvement. Each session for each of us was fashioned for our individual needs at that time, in a relaxing atmosphere. The results were encouraging, often giving us flexibility and release from pain. — J & G

Drug Free Alternatives for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Drug-Free Alternatives for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Mary M. Ernsberger

HERB503 – Advanced Herbal Materia Medica II

American College of Healthcare Sciences

 

Abstract

Stress is a primary causative factor that scientific research has shown leads directly to physical and psychological disease and disorder. For our military servicemen and women, it goes without saying that the daily stress they are under can easily develop into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by the time they return home. Current treatment options for PTSD are counseling and pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, the pharmaceuticals bring with them an enormous risk for dangerous and deadly side effects. In most cases, both nervine and adaptogenic herbs are able to respond to the symptoms of PTSD without side effects. This paper explores herbal treatment options for PTSD that can replace SSRI medications that support stress reactions within the body, balance the stress response in the body, relieve the symptoms of PTSD, and allow servicemen and women to return to normal lives without dangerous side effects.

Drug-Free Alternatives for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Introduction

Scientific research has identified stress as a causative factor for many modern day illnesses. When the body is stuck in a ‘fight or flight’ mode, especially following a traumatic incident, the cortisol released through the adrenal glands can cause serious physical damage. Considering the type and amount of traumatic incidents that our servicemen and women are subjected to as they battle terrorism around the world, it is no wonder that so many of them come home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Conditions or presented symptoms of what is now called PTSD dates back to the Civil War when an army surgeon diagnosed soldiers with an ‘irritable heart’ if they were experiencing shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pains, irritability, depression or disturbed sleep patterns (Evenson, 2002). Ever since, times of war have renamed these same symptoms. In World War I, it was known as ‘shell shock’. In World War II and the Korean War, it was ‘battle fatigue’ (Evenson, 2002). In addition to their experiences in ‘theatre’, the soldiers that fought in the Vietnam War had more to contend with once they arrived home. The negativity attached to the conflict left many soldiers ignored and often hated by the general public. Help of any kind was hard to come by so many soldiers turned to alcohol and drugs which presented an even larger spectrum of symptoms. In order for the Veteran’s Administration to provide free treatment to these soldiers, a single classification had to be created. The American Psychiatric Association and a group of veterans joined forces and petitioned Congress. As a result, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was added to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Volume 3 (DSM-III) (Evenson, 2002). Further revisions of the DSM stretched the diagnostic criteria for PTSD to approximately 175 combinations of symptoms making some feel as if those that have truly experienced severe trauma were being overlooked for those experiencing everyday traumas (Evenson, 2002).

The failure of the medical community to put together a clear diagnostic definition for PTSD has made it difficult to get an accurate count of the number of veterans who return from service with this disorder. In the PTSD Manual, Parrish (2008) estimated that 20% of veterans that served in Korea and/or Vietnam suffer from PTSD. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs website (2014), approximately 12% of the veterans engaged in Desert Storm and 11% to 20% of soldiers who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have or will return with PTSD.

Twenty-first century treatments for PTSD include psychiatric counseling along with prescription antidepressant medications or serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) to relieve the feelings of sorrow, anxiety and worry. Formally, the FDA has only approved Zoloft and Paxil for PTSD along with their black-box label forewarning of an increased risk of suicide for 18-24 year olds, the most common age group for young army recruits (Rosch, 2012). From 2008 to 2012, mental health disorders, including PTSD, were the leading reason for the hospitalization of active-duty servicemen and women with symptoms of nervousness, insomnia, weight gain or loss, and increased feelings of depression and, sadly, suicide rates which increased 80% from 2008-2012, with the numbers exceeding 6,500 per year (Rosch, 2012).

There are a number of herbs that have historically, and through clinical studies, shown to have antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and sleeplessness properties that restore balance and relieve the primary symptoms presented with PTSD without the side effects of pharmaceutical medications. Therefore, it is proposed that replacing SSRI medications, utilized in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, with herbs that support stress reactions within the body, balance the stress response in the body, relieve the symptoms of PTSD, and allow servicemen and women to return to normal lives without dangerous side effects.

Methods

Research on this topic was conducted by using the LIRN.net database search for full-text, peer-reviewed articles written in English from 2005 to 2015, Google Scholar, and the Google search engine using key words: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; PTSD AND herbs; Herbs for PTSD; PTSD AND Veteran’s Administration; PTSD treatments; herbs for anxiety; adaptogens; PTSD AND Gotu kola; Rhodiola rosea; and stress management. The text book, “Medical Herbalism” by David Hoffmann (2003) was referenced.

Results

The wide range of symptoms that modern medicine is attempting to treat when PTSD is diagnosed makes it truly impossible to single out a set treatment protocol that can be guaranteed to work for each person diagnosed. Symptoms may present as if the individual is reliving the event in the form of a nightmare or a flashback that may occur following a sensory trigger that causes a recall of the event. Attempts to avoid these triggers can place the body in a constant state of stress (VA, 2014). What used to be the fight or flight syndrome has been expanded to the fight, flight or freeze syndrome. The freeze phase is used to describe that same constant state of stress. The body’s reaction to stress involves the release of several hormones which affect the brain, more specifically the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, and the autonomic nervous system. The brain releases hormones into the blood stream; they travel to the adrenal glands, completing the HPA axis. Once there, the release of epinephrine, cortisol, and norepinephrine is triggered (Coltrera, Benson & Casey, 2013). When the system that releases these hormones fails to shut down as the stressful situation winds down, these excess hormones can cause physical damage within the body including high blood pressure and immune system suppression. Psychological effects are presented as depression, anxiety, irritability, nightmares, sleeplessness, flashbacks, angry outbursts, inability to concentrate, suicidal thoughts, drug or alcohol addiction, withdrawing from family, friends or the general public, and hypervigilance (Coltrera, Benson & Casey; Parrish, 2013; 2008). Prior to the Iraqi War, soldiers were sent into battle with a six month supply of pharmaceuticals based on the assumption that the situations they are placed in would require some treatment.

Over 180 phytochemical, clinical and pharmacological studies have been published, since 1960, on the adaptogenic properties of Rhodiola confirming its ‘health-promoting’ qualities. Rhodiola rosea has the ability to increase serotonin in the mid-brain and hypothalamus parts of the brain (Brown, Gerbarg, Romazanov, 2002). A three week, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study with 60 participants participated in a water based kava extract. The results of the study determined that aqueous extracts of kava provided noteworthy antidepressant and anti-anxiety action without the safety concerns of kava extracts in an alcohol base (HWHW, 2007).

Sarris, McIntyre and Camfield (2013) conducted a literature review seeking out preclinical and clinical trial data on plant based medicines for anxiety. Fifty-three plants were identified in the 1,525 papers with 21 of the plants having human clinical trial evidence. The clinical trial evidence identified Kava kava, Chamomile, Ginkgo biloba, Skullcap, Milk Thistle, Astragalus, Passionflower, Gotu kola, Rhodiola, Echium, Thryallis and Lemon balm effective with continued use for the treatment of anxiety.

Discussion

The side effects, complications and contraindications fail to present until the individual has been taking the drug for a period of time, much longer than is required during the clinical trial phase necessary to demonstrate its efficacy and safety. As a result, nearly 50% of PTSD patients quit treatment due to the side effects of these medications (Rosch, 2012). The military has spent in excess of two billion dollars on pharmaceutical medications for the treatment of PTSD since 2001. Despite these frightening statistics, the Veteran’s Administration continues to spend more and more money on dangerous pharmaceuticals.

The use of natural therapies, including herbal formulations, may provide a side effect free alternative to medications. Depression and anxiety, at varying levels, are measured on the Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM-D). Herbs commonly used to treat stress induced depression, potentially through the HPA axis, include American (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng), Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis), St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and milky Oat tops (Avena sativa). Additional herbs, specific for the category identified as stagnant depression, which includes PTSD and chronic situational depression include Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum), and Mimosa bark (Albizzia julibrissin) (Winston, 2014). Severe symptoms with a score over 20 on the HAM-D scale may require the addition of a nervine or adaptogenic herb, including Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus), Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), and/or Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) (Winston; Guthrie, 2014; 2014). Upwards of 50% of individuals who present with depression will also present with symptoms of anxiety, which is a constant or sudden state of worry, anticipation, or unwarranted inner turmoil. Herbs with an affinity for anxiety include Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), Kava kava (Piper methysticum), St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), milky Oat tops (Avena sativa), Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), and Gotu kola (Centella asiatica), (Hoffmann; Winston, 2003; 2014). These lists are by no means inclusive, but as such note should be taken on the overlap. Many single herbs have the ability to serve those in various degrees of psychological need.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Nervine herbs have an affinity for the Central Nervous System (CNS) and are available in three primary categories: Nervine Tonics, Nervine Relaxants, and Nervine Stimulants. Lesser categories include hypnotics, antispasmodics, adaptogens, antidepressants and analgesics. The range of symptoms that make up the PTSD disorder confirms the potential for nervine herb formulations as a method of treatment. The second category of herbs that have shown efficacy for the treatment of PTSD are adaptogenic herbs. To be considered an adaptogen, an herb must meet three criteria: 1. It is nontoxic, meaning it is safe for everyone; 2. It builds up the whole body’s resistance to stress, instead of having an affinity for just one body system or organ; 3. These herbs restore balance to bodily functions, no matter where the disruption began. In other words, an adaptogen operates in the body like a tuning fork does for a musical instrument. It helps bring the physical and mental aspects of the body back into homeostasis. An adaptogens influence comes from the synergy of all the constituents within the herb. Therefore, the whole herb, or a whole herb extract, is much more potent and effective than a standardized formula (Guthrie, 2014).

Unlike pharmaceuticals currently prescribed for PTSD, the majority of nervines and adaptogens identified previously are generally regarded as safe (GRAS) when taken according to directions. Unlike pharmaceuticals prescribed based on average statistics, herbal formulas can be individualized to meet each individuals needs. A primary adaptogen-nervine base formula could be created using the following herbs (Winston, 2014):

Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus); Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) or Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa); Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis); Milky Oat seed (Avena sativa); Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum); and Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea). Eleuthero, licorice, wild yam, schisandra and milky oats are adaptogens with an affinity for the adrenal glands. Holy Basil is anti-anxiety, antidepressant, and neuroprotective, specifically effective for stagnant depression, including PTSD and rhodiola stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. This herb strengthens the central nervous system adapting to both the increase and decrease of nervous system activity.

Additional anti-anxiety herbs may be added to the base formula (Winston, 2014):

Kava (Piper methysticum); Gotu kola (Centella asiatica); Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). All of these herbs are relaxing nervines and/or adaptogens shown to be effective in the treatment of anxiety, nervous tension, insomnia and mental exhaustion.

For veterans diagnosed with PTSD, alternative treatment options that do not come with a laundry list of side effects should be available. This type of herbal formula can easily be turned into whole herb capsules, extract, tincture, infusion or decoction – whichever type of formula works best for the individual. The restorative capabilities of the herbs in this formula may reduce the number of veterans who are hospitalized after returning from combat. With over 6,500 servicemen and women taking their own lives each year, many as a result of the pharmaceuticals they have been prescribed, imagine how many lives could be saved.

It should be noted that serious, chronic depression can compromise and even threaten an individual’s life to the point of becoming a disability. A qualified medical practitioner should always be consulted when attempting to incorporate an herb or any natural approach into a treatment plan as an alternative to prescribed medications.

References

Brown, R. P., Gerbarg, P. L., Ramazanov, Z. (2002). Rhodiola rosea: A phytomedical overview. HerbalGram. 56. 40-52. Retrieved from http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue56/article2333.html?ts=1423947319&signature=e88b4f48e370f9b5eeb15cc8b1bb3704

Coltrera, F., Benson, H., & Casey, A. (2013) Stress management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress. Prepared by Norwalk: Belvoir Media Group, LLC. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1502598868?accountid=158302

Evenson, B. (2002). The malady for the moment: From a rare disorder among soldiers exposed to unimaginable horrors, PTSD has grown to the point where psychiatrists are now suggesting that anyone who’s had a bad experience may be at risk. So what’s going on? OH & S Canada, 18, 48-56. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/224619805?accountid=158302

Guthrie, C. (2014) Ancient healers: Adaptogens. Experience Life. Retrieved from https://experiencelife.com/article/ancient-healers-adaptogens/

Herbs and supplements for anxiety: Kava, inositol may help. (2007, December 1). Harvard Women’s Health Watch (HWHW). Retrieved from http://harvardpartnersinternational.staywellsolutionsonline.com/HealthNewsLetters/69,W1207c

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Healing Arts Press. Rochester, VT

Parrish, I. S. (2008). Military veterans PTSD reference manual. Published at buybooksontheweb.com, Bryn Mawr, PA

Rosch, P. J. (2012). Drugs for PTSD and other stress related disorders. Health and Stress. 1-13. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1024809238?accountid=158302

Sarris, J., McIntyre, E., & Camfield, D. A. (2013). Plant-based medicines for anxiety disorders, part 2: A review of clinical studies with supporting preclinical evidence. CNS Drugs, 27(4), 301-19. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1465556709?accountid=158302

Symptoms of PTSD (2015) Retrieved from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website, on the PTSD: National Center for PTSD page at http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/symptoms_of_ptsd.asp

Winston, D. (2014). Differential treatment of depression with botanical and nutritional medicines. Retrieved from: http://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/sites/default/files/ Proceedings/winston_david_-_differ_treat-depression.pdf

 

Our Guest Blogger this season is Mary M. Ernsberger, M.Ed. is a clinical herbalist, hypnotherapist and author of the forthcoming book, “un-Broken Children – Removing the Label, Restoring Health& Wellness”.

She is the founder of Nature’s Simple Remedies, a company that offers drug-free alternatives to support health and wellness. Her product line is created using certified organic whole herbs and essential oils. Mary utilizes her formal education background in both traditional, complementary and alternative medicine and education, in addition to her more than nine years of practitioner experience, to aid her clients in identifying the most effective and SAFE natural therapies to restore balance to their lives. She lives in Titusville, FL and can be reached by via email at NaturesSimpleRemedies@gmail.com or by phone at 360-525-8533. Call to schedule a FREE 30 minute consultation. Be sure to LIKE her Facebook page at Nature’s Simple Remedies and visit her website athttp://www.NaturesSimpleRemedies.com.

 

Visceral Manipulation.

abdominal massageEvery now and then we at Oregon City Acupuncture invite one of our favorite practitioners in our area to write a Guest  Blog.  This month we’d like to introduce Sarah Schlamp of MASSAGE SOLACE, 19142 Molalla Ave., Oregon City.

Visceral Manipulation.

Say what!?

My first introduction to visceral work came years ago when I was visiting my husband’s family in northern Canada. My 2 year old daughter had had constipation issues for most of her short life. Doctors weren’t too worried, because she could at least pass something 1-2 times a week. I’d tried everything I could think of. My mother-in-law told me about this woman in their community who she thought could help. I was a bit skeptical. The woman had no license of any kind and everyone simply referred to her as the woman with “the gift.” They told stories of how this gift had been passed down in her family line for generations and how she had started working on her dolls at the age of three. Hmmm.

I, too, had been dealing with some health issues: frequent bladder infections since the birth of my daughter. They seemed to believe this woman with “the gift” could help us both.

What did I have to lose? We went for a visit.

She was elderly. She wore a dress and had a thick German accent. Her name was Sally.

She started with my daughter. She felt around on my babies’ stomach and quickly declared that she had a twist in her intestine. She also felt her head: Had she bumped it recently? The bones were moved in such a way that her ear wasn’t draining properly.

Well, yes, actually she had bumped her head the day before on the slide at a park, and yes, I’d noticed her rubbing her ear.

My daughter was extremely shy at that age, so I didn’t really know if it was the discomfort of the work being done or the discomfort of having a stranger working on her. Either way, her sadness was rather short-lived.

When Sally worked on me, she said my uterus was sitting on my bladder wrong so that the bladder wasn’t draining properly or something like that. She proceeded to move it, which didn’t feel wonderful, and then told me not to lift anything heavier than 10 lbs for 6-8 wks. That was all. Come back in a week to make sure things were still in place. Thanks for coming.

Did it work?  Surprisingly, Yes! Did all our problems go away forever? No.

Fast forward a few years. I have my massage license and hear about classes that work with the abdomen. Am I interested? You bet!

Certainly there are different approaches to working with the structures of the abdomen. I’ve trained in several, but the one I’ve done the most training with is the Barral Institute. Jean Piere Barral is a French Osteopath who began working with structures of the body some 60+ years ago. This institution teaches a gentle approach of working with the structures of the body to help them function at their optimum. It’s a modality that works with restrictions in the body. Sometimes the fascia around an organ can thicken up. Have you ever injured a shoulder for example and then a few weeks later noticed it didn’t have as much range of motion? The same can be true for organs. Perhaps your liver has had to work really hard so the body sends extra fascia (connective tissue) around it to lend support. This can restrict the liver’s normal gentle movement which can then create tensions not only around the liver but also in surrounding areas. I’ve worked on several people with a chronic right shoulder and/or right arm pain that was relieved when we worked on the liver.

Here are a few commonly asked questions:

What is Visceral Manipulation? It’s a gentle technique that works to release restrictions in the body that can create tension locally and refer that tension to other places as well.

Does everyone need it? Not necessarily, though in class it was often repeated that: “everyone can use a liver lift”. It really depends on your issues. I had a client come in with severe upper back and low back pain, mostly on the right. Her other symptoms seem to point to the gastro-esophageal junction. I asked if she had any stomach issues and sure enough, she had GERD(Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). When we worked on that area, it was very tender. Within a couple of visits, her back pain was clearing up, and she’d noticed fewer symptoms from GERD.

How do I know if I need VM? Sometimes VM is indicated when a person has had surgeries in the past, but really, we just listen to the body and see where it’s being pulled. Often times the body will prioritize a restriction; when we work the area, whether it was local to the pain or not, it often helps relieve that pain.

How does VM differ from regular massage? It’s quite different. Instead of dressing down the client will usually stay fully clothed in soft cotton clothing (not spandex). Depending on the area that the body is prioritizing, the client may be sitting up, or laying down and may be moving around a bit.

If this massage technique interests you or sounds right for you, contact Sarah at 503-756-9365.

http://www.massage-solace.com/about-us.html

 

Turmeric: The New Superfood

Turmeric powderTurmeric (Curcuma longa) is a culinary spice that spans cultures – it is a major ingredient in Indian curries, and makes American mustard yellow. Evidence is accumulating that this brightly colored relative of ginger is a promising disease-preventive agent as well, probably due largely to its anti-inflammatory action.

A comprehensive turmeric study was published by the respected ethnobotanist James A. Duke, Phd., in the October, 2007 issue of Alternative & Complementary Therapies, and summarized in the July, 2008, issue of the American Botanical Council publication HerbClip.

Reviewing some 700 studies, Duke concluded that turmeric appears to outperform many pharmaceuticals in its effects against several chronic, debilitating diseases, and does so with virtually no adverse side effects. Here are some of the diseases that turmeric has been found to help prevent or alleviate:

  • Alzheimer’s disease: Duke found more than 50 studies on turmeric’s effects in addressing Alzheimer’s disease. The reports indicate that extracts of turmeric contain a number of natural agents that block the formation of beta-amyloid, the substance responsible for the plaques that slowly obstruct cerebral function in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Arthritis: Turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including six different COX-2-inhibitors (the COX-2 enzyme promotes pain, swelling and inflammation; inhibitors selectively block that enzyme). By itself, writes Duke, curcumin – the component in turmeric most often cited for its healthful effects – is a multifaceted anti-inflammatory agent, and studies of the efficacy of curcumin have demonstrated positive changes in arthritic symptoms.
  • Cancer: Duke found more than 200 citations for turmeric and cancer and more than 700 for curcumin and cancer. He noted that in the handbook Phytochemicals: Mechanisms of Action, curcumin and/or turmeric were effective in animal models in prevention and/or treatment of colon cancer, mammary cancer, prostate cancer, murine hepatocarcinogenesis (liver cancer in rats), esophageal cancer, and oral cancer. Duke said that the effectiveness of the herb against these cancers compared favorably with that reported for pharmaceuticals.

How can you get more turmeric into your diet? One way is via turmeric tea. There are also extracts in tablet and capsule form available in health food stores; look for supercritical extracts in dosages of 400 to 600 mg, and take three times daily or as directed on the product.

And, of course, you can simply indulge in more curried dishes, either in restaurants or at home. However you do it, adding turmeric to your diet is one of the best moves toward optimal health you can make.

 

 Year Of The Ram

 Ram IIBased on the forecasted astrological events of the period, the 2015 horoscope and the Year of the Wood Goat (Ram, Sheep) promises much more favorable times as compared to the previous year. Many astrologists conclude from the conditions of 2015 that the processes that have been unfolding and spreading chaos for the past few years are finally wrapping up; both political and economic situations in the world are starting to stabilize. Many people’s quality of life is getting higher and the crisis that has been tormenting many counties for the past several years is finally promising to be over. In other words, the year of 2015 is a crucial one! In 2015, which is according to the Oriental calendar is a year of the Ram (also year of the Sheep or Goat), one epoch is coming to replace another and the whole mankind have once again high hopes for the future. Even though we have always been hopeful and will continue to be such, this time the whole humanity do have a feasible chance to change the world for the better! It goes without saying, one would hope we would truly be deserving of the positive changes and we would be allowed to create the small paradise on earth that we dream of. It must be said once again that there has never been this many signs and favorable planetary aspects confirming the positive nature of the upcoming changes – we simply can’t ignore these signs!

The Chinese horoscope for the year of the Ram can also provide confirmation of the favorable changes in the upcoming year. 2015 will start on February 19 and end on February 7, 2016. The first thing that stands out in many oriental horoscopes for 2015 is the newly gained faith in a stable economic growth. In the Chinese traditional astrology 2015 as the year of Yui Wei or the 32nd year of the Green Wooden Ram (also Sheep or Goat) is allegorically represented as the period of a passing summer – the period of prosperity and wellbeing. Quite often one can come across the following wording: “The creative side of the Wooden Ram; its diligence applied to hard work ensures prosperity”… Let’s agree words like these don’t leave any room for doubt when it comes to the future wellbeing.

Western astrologists in their turn confirm the positive nature of 2015 by tracking positive signs of the planets’ changing aspects and their position relative to each other. Various zodiac horoscopes for 2015 highlight the overall tendency toward stabilization and general improvement; this will be aided by several astrological factors at the same time.

First, Saturn’s transition into the Zodiac sign of Sagittarius at the very end of 2014 will come into play. As early as January of 2015 all people on the planet will be able to tell the difference. Many political problems and economic issues will be viewed differently. Educational matters will move to the front seat and the main focus will be set on post-graduate education. All year long we may expect new legislative regulations which will allow for structural innovations in educational establishments as well as “order” in this branch of educational affairs. Apart from education, changes will also be introduced to the relations between countries; some of them will reach an agreement on visa-free entry and others, on the contrary, will close their borders. It should be noted, though, that this change will only be vocalized in 2015, and the main events will unfold in the following years.

Second, the tension between Pluto and Uranus that has been there since June of 2012 will finally ease up. This will bring many conflicts that have been persisting from 2012 to 2014 to an end. Surely, we can’t expect to know the winners and losers in this “war” since the underlying reason of all the outrages in the world has been of political nature. However, we can safely say that many processes that affected Europe, Ukraine, Egypt, Syria and a number of African countries will make it impossible for them to go back to their old system and maintain their political course. Let’s hope the changes in the above-mentioned countries will be more of a positive nature. The end of tension between the planets will mark the end of the whole epoch. Starting with 2015 most of the countries will be living in the post-industrial society. It should be noted that the innovations presented to us in 2015 can transform our life similar to the invention of the Internet or cell phones. The progress in the field of high technologies will make it possible to influence politics and this must be one of the crucial factors in the future formation of our society.

Third, in the first half of 2015 there will be a harmonious aspect between Jupiter and Uranus. This can have an unexpected effect on the development of the Internet technologies and wireless connections as well as those innovations that will only be presented to the key players of the high tech market. Jupiter is the planet of expansion and due to its influence many will notice that technologies have become accessible and available to practically everybody. Also, in 2015 the mankind may make some significant progress in space industry; for example, in the first half of 2015 there may be some “news” from the spacecraft sent to outer space for exploration and research. Received data can fundamentally change our interpretation of how the universe works, how life on earth came to be and whether there’s life on other planets.

Fourthly, in August of 2015 we will witness Jupiter’s transition into the Zodiac sign of Virgo. This will first and foremost positively affect the economic growth; the economics will rapidly stabilize and the markets will be quickly recovering from the losses suffered in the previous years. Another good promise of 2015 is the overall heightened attention to ecological issues, environmental protection, healthy eating habits and healthy life style. People’s health will become the focus. We can expect large-scale measures taken to improve health of entire nations. Unconventional medicine and the spheres associated with it will be of special importance.

Overall, it can be said that in the first half of 2015 the processes that have been in place for the past years will be over and in the second half of 2015 both political and economic situation in the world will be void of turmoil and conflicts. Closer to the summer months, when positive events will start overshadowing negatives ones, people of many countries will finally be able to sigh with relief and restore their faith in the future.

It is hard to report on 2015 in detail, but one thing is for sure: the events that 2015 has in store will prove unforgettable! Unbelievable striking events are ahead – we just need to be patient enough to wait for them to happen…

Reprinted from:   http://www.gotohoroscope.com/2015-horoscope/

 

 

 

Wrap up in Winter

Carol in WinterScott in WinterWard Off the Winter Chills

You know that scarf your Aunt Betty gave you for Christmas several years ago? You tossed it on the shelf in your closet and forgot about it!  It is one of the best things you own to ward off winter colds.  Winter wind, cold and damp can easily invade your body through acupuncture meridians and points on your head, neck and shoulders.  Protecting them from winter weather with a scarf and a warm cap goes a long way to keeping the sneezes, sniffles, coughs, aches, chills and fever from making you miserable over the Holidays.  When you are out in the wind, cold and rain, be sure to wear that scarf and cap. and when you see Aunt Betty, tell her thanks.

Return to Spring

RETURN TO SPRINGreturn to spring

Feeling generally fatigued all the time?  Older than your years?  Memory not what it used to be?  Hair getting prematurely gray?  Are you easily startled or frightened?  Experiencing night sweats?  Low back and knees sore and achy even though you have not injured them?  Libido not what it used to be?

These are many of the symptoms addressed by the Traditional Chinese herbal formula known as Huan Shao Dan.  The name translates as “Return to Spring”, or “Return to Youth”.   This ancient herbal formula consists of over a dozen herbs which warm and strengthen the digestion, the Heart (Spirit), and the Kidney Yang Qi.  According to the original source text, “Secret Formulas of the Yang Family”, one should notice a difference between five and thirty days of use.  It is safe for long-term use as well.  As with many herbs and medications, “Return to Spring” should not be taken during pregnancy.

Winter is the best time to nourish warm and tonify the Kidney Qi.  If you are concerned about your Yang Qi, consult your friendly neighborhood acupuncturist.  Oregon City Acupuncture offers current patients a 10% discount on “Return to Spring” through February, 2015. We cannot ship.   

Jing Ball Recipe

  Herbal Tonics need not be bitter teas or handfuls of pills.  In fact, one of the best ways to nourish and tonify is by creating foods and treats one can enjoy.  The following recipe is adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal:  A Guide to Living Life with Energy, Health, and Vitality.

He shou wu, or fleece flower root, is one of the chief herbs in the Chinese material medica for nourishing Jing. The name of the herb literally means “Black-haired Mr. He, and is based on the legend of Mr. He restored the color of his hair, vitality, and youth by using the herb.Jing Ball Dish II

  •  1 cup Tahini or Almond Butter
  •  ½ cup Honey
  •  2 tbsps. powdered He Shou Wu   (Sometimes sold as Fo-Ti*).
  •   1 tbsp. powdered dried nettles*.
  •  Carob powder.

*Fo ti and nettle herb can be found at The Herb Shoppe in Portland, Oregon or on-line at Mountain Rose Herbs. 

Optional:

  •   Shredded Coconut
  •  Raisins, currants, or chocolate chips

Mix tahini or almond butter and honey.

Combine powdered herbs to make a thick dough.

Mix in whatever options such as coconut, chips or raisins you might like.

Add enough carob powder to thicken into dough.  Roll into small balls.  If you like, roll in coconut to coat.  Store in the fridge where they will keep for two to three months, but why wait that long?  Snack on a couple each day!  Jing balls make a wonderful holiday treat, too!

Put the Jingle Back in your Jing this winter.

Put the Jingle Back in your Jing this winter.   Sleigh bells

   We are all born with an intrinsic energy known as JingJing, or Essence, is a Chinese term for the fundamental energy of life.  Jing is stored in the Kidneys and determines our vitality and resistance to disease. In a sense, Jing is like our life’s battery.  Winter is the time to nourish kidney energy such as Jing.  As the energies of the natural world return to the roots of plant life, so to in winter should we nourish our own root energy.

Jing controls a number of essential functions such as the substances and functions of reproductive organs, power and clarity of the mind, integrity of one’s physical structure and sense organs.    Strong Jing leads to a long and vigorous life. Its loss will result in physical and mental degeneration.  Jing is easily used up, but it is difficult to replace.   Jing is burned up in the body by life itself, and even more so by chronic and acute inflammation and stress. Jing is also used up by behaviors such as overwork, excessive emotionalism, drug and alcohol abuse, chronic pain or illness, and sexual excess (especially in men).  Excessive menstrual patterns, pregnancy and childbirth can result in a dramatic drain on the Jing for women, especially in middle age.

As we use up Jing, we lose our ability to change and adapt easily and appropriately.  Therefore we easily become imbalanced, toxic, stagnant, and more susceptible to disease, inflammation, and/or cancer. Our reproductive system weakens and degenerates. Our mental energy dissipates. We lose our memory, our creativity, our motivation, our ability to focus, our mental endurance.  In short, one may age quickly and dramatically.

 

Life itself depletes Jing. A happy, balanced life depletes Jing slowly.

 

Everyone would like more vitality so everyone needs to nourish Jing.  It is most important to avoid harmful habits.  However Jing can be obtained from food and herbs to support the Jing one has from birth.  Nutrient rich foods such as micro-algae—chlorella, spirulina and blue green algae– or wheat grass are rich in nucleic acids and other constituents which protect the body from degeneration.  All seeds, according to Chinese theory, nourish Jing.  Fresh raw almonds and sesame seeds, especially black sesame seeds, are good for the Jing.  Herbs such as nettle, Solomon’s seal, and he shou wu (sometimes called fo ti) are said to nourish the Jing.  Spiritual practices such as yoga, Tai qi or qigong can also enhance the cultivation of one’s Jing.     

  Creating the best plan for nourishing your Jing requires an assessment of our general constitution and lifestyle so that herbs can be personalized for you specifically.  If you’d like to put some jingle back into your Jing, set up a free ½ hour consultation at Oregon City Acupuncture.

 

 

Don’t Be SAD This Winter

 Snow Man During the cold dark days of winter, is it hard to get up in the morning?  Do you always feel fatigued in the winter months?  Is it difficult to concentrate?  Feel less frisky in the romance department?  These are symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.  Other symptoms might include sweet and starch cravings, weight gain, irritability and anxiety.  There may also be other symptoms such as guilt, hopelessness, and headaches.  SAD symptoms return year after year and tend to come and go about the same time each year.

SAD may affect as many as half a million people in the US.  Another 10% to 20% may experience mild SAD.  SAD is more common in women. It is uncommon in those under 20.  SAD is more common in northern regions such as the Pacific Northwest.

Some scientists believe SAD may be a biological response to less winter sunlight.  Melatonin is involved in setting your biological clock.  Morning sunlight tells your brain to begin your daily rhythms.  Although Sad’s exact causes are not yet understood, it is likely that serotonin levels in the brain are disrupted leading to depression and other symptoms.

There are several ways to address SAD naturally.  One of the easiest ways is light therapy.  Light therapy uses a special light box to expose your face to light for 30 minutes in the morning simulating summer morning light.

Fight carb cravings, and eat healthy protein such as nuts, eggs, meats, and beans with each serving of carbohydrates.  Choose complex carbohydrates from whole grains and vegetables.

There is a link between low levels of Vitamin D and SAD.  Most data supports a daily dose of 2000 IU of D3.  Other sources of Vitamin D are cod, salmon, herring, sardines, fortified cereals and milk.  Adding supplements of omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, melatonin, St John’s Wort and amino acids such as 5-HTP may be useful too.  There may be potential drug interactions with these therapies, so check with your health care provider.

Exercise is an important in addressing depression.  Get out and walk for 20 minutes regularly.

Acupuncture shows promising results in treating SAD by releasing serotonin and other hormones and has no side effects.  Acupuncture is also an effective treatment for insomnia and fatigue.  A treatment plan created with your acupuncturist can improve mood and energy by restoring balance to your body’s systems.  Don’t be SAD this winter. Consult your Naturopathic Doctor or Acupuncturist if you believe you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

 

Defend Your Vital Energy This Winter

The concept of QI or vital energy is central to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  Qi changes its form according to its location and function. The lungs are associated with Wei Qi.     Fall is the time to nourish and strengthen the lungs.   Wei Qi translates as “defensive vital energy”.   In other words, your immune system.  According to TCM theory, your Wei Qi is derived from food and water.  The lungs regulate the circulation of Wei Qi beneath the skin, and control the opening and closing for the pores.  This explains the holistic tradition of promoting sweating when one has a cold or flu.   The invading pathogen obstructs the flow of Wei Qi, blocks the pores, and impairs the controlling function of the lungs.  By promoting sweating with herbs, for example, the pores are unblocked; sweat comes out and with it the pathogenic factors causing your cold.  Then the Wei Qi is free again to circulate and defend.

When Wei Qi is weak, you can become prone to frequent colds.  It is important to nourish and strengthen the lungs and therefor the Wei Qi in the fall.  There are several herbs and formulas one may use in the fall to nourish the Wei Qi.  Depending upon your personal constitution, herbs such as Ginseng, Astragulus or Reishi mushroom or formulas including them might be recommended to strengthen your Wei Qi for the cold and flu season.  Consult your acupuncturist at Oregon City Acupuncture to find out what is best for you and avoid those winter colds and stay healthy.