Five myths about Chinese medicine with Angela Hicks

Five myths about Chinese medicine with Angela HicksHicks_Principles-of-C_978-1-84819-130-3_colourjpg-web

When you hear the words ‘Chinese medicine’ what comes to your mind?  I bet you think of acupuncture!  Most people do.  But in fact there are five therapies included in Chinese medicine.

The five strands of Chinese medicine are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chinese herbs
  • Tuina (massage)
  • Qigong (exercises)
  • Dietary therapy

In my book Principles of Chinese Medicine I explain how each of these treatments are used, and I give lots of examples – so if you are thinking of seeing a Chinese medicine practitioner you will know exactly what to expect. All of these therapies have been tried and tested over thousands of years – and the research base from China and the West is extensive too – proving to us how well they work.

The truth about acupuncture needles

Acupuncture is the most well-known Chinese medicine treatment (which is why you probably thought of it first!) and perhaps the most frequently practiced in the West. Acupuncture is enjoyed by millions of people throughout the world and the benefits are huge. Sadly some people miss out on its benefits because they are afraid that needles will be painful.  So what is the truth about needles?

The good news is that needles create a dull sensation rather than pain.   In my book some patients give descriptions such as a ‘tingling feeling’, a ‘dull ache’ or a ‘pulling sensation’. Unlike when you see a dentist, which many people dread, patients are likely to enjoy visiting their acupuncturist.  They find treatment improves their well-being as well as curing their illnesses.

On top of this, a practitioner will use only a few very fine needles (and by the way, those awful photos of people with hundreds of needles in them are sensational and not realistic).  And finally, of course, all practitioners use impeccable standards of hygiene and all needles are disposable and used only once.

So if you want treatment and were put off by the thought of needles – maybe think again!

The truth about Chinese herbal medicine

There are still rumours that Chinese herbalists use animal products in their prescriptions, and also products that come from endangered species. Not true! In the West the use of animal products is not only prohibited but practitioners don’t even want to use them. The Register for Chinese Herbal Medicine, one of the largest Chinese herbal medicine professional bodies, says on its website, ‘we strongly condemn the illegal trade in endangered species and have a strict policy prohibiting the use of any type of endangered species by any of our members’.

Chinese herbs effectively treat many conditions and are used extensively in most Chinese hospitals.  Why are they used so much? Because they have been keeping Chinese people healthy for thousands of years. So maybe they could help you too – and you won’t be harming any animals in the process, only helping yourself.

Some dietary therapy truthsherbs

The final therapy in Chinese medicine is dietary therapy.  This is an age-old system of dietary advice that has been handed down through generations.  Dietary therapy is consistent, logical and tried and tested. In China many people are conscious of what constitutes a healthy diet. In contrast, in the West advice is constantly changing – the latest food ‘fad’ tells us to eat more meat, or more carbohydrates, or that fat is bad for you – or maybe good for you.  We are inundated with conflicting information. We are confused and no wonder. There is a myth that Chinese dietary therapy is just another fad.  No it isn’t. Chinese dietary therapy gives us a way of eating that is simple, nourishing and can keep us healthy for life.

The truth about Chinese massage treatments

When we think of massage we often think of relaxation. Patients who have Chinese massage say it is very relaxing in fact they may leave treatment as if floating on cloud nine! There is, however, a myth that this is all it can do. But there is much more to it than this. Tuina massage (pronounced twee nar) is also a very effective system of treatment. It not only deals with joint problems which you might expect, it can also help many other conditions including digestive complaints, lung illnesses, gynecological problems and much more.

In my book you will read the story of a patient cured of a stomach problem she had had for over 20 years that no one else could help! So if you come to have some tuina don’t rule out a miracle from that as well!

The truth about qigong practiceqi_gong_outside_web607

Qigong (pronounced ‘chee gong’) is an umbrella term that covers a vast array of Chinese exercises including tai chi.  They are not the usual exercises you might do. These exercises are gentler and are performed more slowly than exercises performed in a gym.  And you’ll have different results from practicing them than from going to the gym. The most common myth is that qigong is so gentle that it is less effective than vigorous exercise.  Somehow we feel we must do something and maybe push a bit to know exercise benefits us.  When you do qigong you might not even feel you are doing much. These exercises have, however, been shown to have a profound effect on people’s health. For example, here are results from studies into the psychological and physiological effects of qigong and tai chi covering a total of 6410 participants from 13 countries: Effects included improved bone strength, better lung and heart fitness including lower blood pressure, improved overall physical functioning, prevention of falls and improved balance. They also create better immunity, an improved general quality of life and a positive change in psychological factors such as general well-being, anxiety and depression.

So who says you have to work hard to get results? There’s another saying – doing less is doing more – and in the case of qigong it’s very true.

 

Now that you know a little more about Chinese medicine you might have a dilemma.  Which one do I choose? I’m afraid you’ll have to make the choice yourself!  If you want more information, my book Principles of Chinese Medicine might help you decide.

 

 

 

 

Autumn Metal Element activities for children – by Karin Kalbantner-Wernicke and Bettye Jo Wray-Fears

Welcome back to the monthly series of stimulating Five Element activities that can support development of children in all ages!   If this is your first time reading our blog, you can go back to our first entry in May to view the WOOD Element activities.  All of the blogs can be downloaded in a pdf format by clicking on the link at the end of this article so that you can enjoy making your own notebook of Five Element exercises for each month and season of the year. 

November - metal imageThe transformation of the autumn leaves from their brilliant colors blowing in the wind to withered, crunchy piles on the ground shows us the natural capacity of our planet to let go of what is no longer   needed in life.  Autumn is the time of the Metal Element, where the cycle of life from beginning to end is most apparent as nature prepares for the hibernation of winter.  Fall marks the approaching end of the year and can bring a natural sense of reflection for us as we recognize how time passes season after season.

The Metal Element and the season of autumn are symbolic for many aspects of our lives.  It has clear demarcation of irreversible change representing the need to let go and create boundaries in order for balance and the cycle of life to continue.  It is the Metal Element that gives us the capacity to reflect on what has past, to keep what is most precious, and to cut loose what we no longer need so we can make room for what comes next.   When in balance, this function is as natural as breathing in, and breathing out, and one might even find oneself doing exactly that with the crispness of the autumn air.

For children, the Metal Element expressions are most visible in their sense of boundaries in their environment, bodies, space and time.  The young child that cries out, “No! That’s my toy!” is expressing a boundary of self and depending on the age is an appropriate and needed expression to come in touch with oneself.  Just as the 6 year old child that shows difficulty respecting the space of other children and their objects, likewise may be expressing an undeveloped Metal Element aspect.  Space, time, order, capacity to let go of one craft to start another, or just an ability to know when the time for stopping an activity, are all developmental pieces of the Metal Element that can be observed in children and adults.

The following exercises are games and activities that can be used to stimulate the Metal Element energy.  They can be used with a family, classroom, or a group of children to experience some fun qualities of Metal Element.

Do I Know My Size?

This activity is for a family or small group. Every member of the family/group gets a long rope (longer than what it would take to draw the outline of the body).  The rope can be inexpensive twine that is used to wrap packages.  Everyone uses their rope to try to create the outline of their body (in whatever shape they want) on the ground.  They cannot lay on the ground to measure; they have to try to do this from their idea of their own size and shape.  When everybody is done, all members of the group look and decide if they think the drawings are the correct size of each other or not.

After all the opinions have been shared,  each person will take a turn laying in their own shape while the other group members use different colours of wool or cotton balls to surround the actual shape of the person laying down.  Then they help the person surrounded by cotton or wool to stand up very carefully.  Now this group member can see how different the shape they made was to the real shape on the ground.

Having Fun with Boundaries!

2 people are sitting face to face at a table. The table should not be too big.  A cotton ball is placed in the center of the table.  Now, without using hands or any other objects, both people try to blow the cotton ball off the opposite side of the table in the direction where the other person is sitting. Of course it becomes harder and harder to succeed as the each person tries to keep the cotton ball from falling off the table on their side!Kalbantner-Wern_Children-at-The_978-1-84819-118-1_colourjpg-web

Click this link to download this article.

For more information about the Five Elements and the way they can support child development read Children at Their Best: Understanding and Using the Five Elements to Develop Children’s Full Potential for Parents, Teachers, and Therapists.

Emotional Freedom Techniques – an interview with Lawrence Pagett

When did you first become interested in EFT?

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Many years ago I witnessed my next door neighbour in his garden tapping furiously on top of his head and I wondered what on earth he was doing. He enthusiastically told me about Gary Craig the founder of EFT and rushed us into his house to give me one of Gary’s introductory training DVDs explaining the EFT basic recipe and how to conduct an EFT round. In fact, he insisted that we watch the DVD together there and then.  I was impressed by Craig’s presentation. I was also fascinated that this simple tapping procedure was said to be able to treat a wide range of serious conditions such as traumas in a matter of minutes. Sometime later I visited a fellow hypnotherapist friend who told me that he was a big fan of EFT and he successfully used tapping to treat all his clients’ fears and phobias.

What inspired you write a book about EFT?

In 2012 I had the opportunity to train with Dr Silvia Hartmann in Advanced forms of EFT and to gain the Master Practitioner in EFT I ended up writing a staggering 60,000 words. Additionally, I did plenty of hands on EFT on myself, my family, friends, my cat and clients. To write a book about EFT seemed the most natural next step so I approached Singing Dragon and within two hours they had accepted. I was excited because it had always been a lifelong ambition of mine to be an author. To get a book deal from a highly acclaimed international publisher like Singing Dragon seemed fitting and miraculous. I was overjoyed!

Why did you co-write it with Paul?

For lots of great reasons. If I had written it solo, then it may have turned out as a subjective account – EFT according to Energist Lawrence Pagett; whereas bringing in a writer, like Paul from a non-therapy background, to my mind gives the book depth bringing with it a wider perspective.

Paul, how did you first hear about EFT and why did you want to help write this book?

It was when Lawrence was doing his course. He came round one evening to try doing some EFT with me and within seconds of my first round of tapping I was in a state of ecstasy and bliss! It was then that I realised how incredibly powerful and amazing EFT could be. I wanted to write the book with Lawrence because I could see from my own profound experience how life changing EFT can be and it seemed to fit so well with my own personal spiritual beliefs.

What is so special about this book?

That’s a great question: The book is a must read for anyone who is genuinely interested in learning about, or advancing their EFT skills. Principles of EFT works on many levels. It is written by two writers, one from an educational and therapy background, the other from a more left brained orientation (Paul is a qualified accountant). Both are on the frontier in terms of spirituality. The book is well researched and has a plethora of tapping techniques for the reader to try EFT out for themselves – It is also humorous in places and contains within its pages an energy that lovingly takes the reader by the hand and leads them throughout their EnergyEFT adventure.

What do you consider to be the most important part of the book?

Chapter two is our “tour de force”, it is Pagett and Millward’s take on the deficiencies of the western scientific world view and why the West has been so doggedly slow at grasping Eastern energy concepts like EFT. Our notions around spirituality seep deep within Principles of EFT and serve as a backdrop for the spiritually aspiring reader to grasp concepts of Enlightenment. We suggest, as Dr Hartmann asserts, that EFT can be used to help take mankind to the next level of development and beyond. If Dr Hartmann’s contribution to EFT is EnergyEFT, then our contribution is SpiritualEFT.

That sounds fascinating, if not a little highbrow?

Whilst Principles of EFT is accessible to everyone, those that will appreciate it the most are likely to be more spiritually discerning. Some of the concepts might be challenging for the western mind to fully grasp; yet as we have already mentioned it’s a fun and easy read too. As Silvia Hartmann says “EFT should never be dour!”

Finally, what is the future for EFT?

It is our hope and prayer that people will enjoy and gain tremendous value and insight from Principles of EFT. EFT has traditionally been concerned with remedial EFT. The future lies with Silvia Hartmann’s positive EFT and a further exploration of what we call spiritual EFT – moving people into the bliss and bringing people to enlightenment.

To find out more about Principles of EFT, visit the Singing Dragon website.

Osmanthus – the Scent of an Oriental Autumn

 

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In Scotland, we have just enjoyed an uncharacteristically glorious summer, full of beautiful scents. Autumn can be wonderful too, but then it is more the rich pallete of colours that we appreciate – our visual sense tends to dominate the season. Here, if we are asked to identify the scents of autumn, we might think of fallen leaves, damp earth, pumpkins and gourds, bonfires, wood smoke, maybe coniferous forests. However, there is one beautiful scented flower that, in China and Japan, is very much associated with autumn, and that is osmanthus.

Osmanthus fragrans is a woody, evergreen flowering shrub. In China it is known as kweiha, and the scent of the blossoms is loved and renowned; and indeed has been described as the quintessential scent of China.  It has been cultivated for hundreds of years, and is often found at Buddhist temples, where it is planted in groves. Osmanthus is very much considered to be an autumn flower, despite the reality that some varieties bloom all year round, hence the name ‘osmanthus four seasons’.  The flowers range from silvery white to reddish orange, but the most fragrant are the orange-yellow varieties. Osmanthus blossoms fill the air with their diffusive, floral-fruity fragrance, and when they fall from the shrubs and carpet the ground, the scent persists for many hours (Kaiser 2006). It is no wonder, then, that they grace such special places, and are held in such high regard.

Traditionally, like jasmine, dried osmanthus flowers are used to flavour both green and black teas, however the scent is very different, and quite distinctive. An absolute can be extracted from the flowers. This is very costly – it is an amber or greenish, thick liquid, with a complex, rich, sweet, honey-like, floral scent with prominent notes of plums and raisins, and apricots (Warren and Warrenburg 1993; Kaiser 2006). Because of its complexity, and the unique relationship between its floral and fruity notes, the absolute has the qualities of a perfume, in that its scent has many dimensions. It is impossible to attribute its scent to a handful of constituents, however it would be reasonable to say that β-ionone (woody, floral, violet, slightly fruity, with cedarwood, raspberry nuances) and dihydro-β-ionone, γ-decalactone (powerful, peach-like) and related lactones, linalool (light floral, woody), nerol (sweet, floral, seaweed-like) and geraniol (sweet, rosy) have a major impact (Kaiser 2006).

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Turin and Sanchez (2009) discuss the use of osmanthus in perfumery; they suggest that it is actually a ‘ready-made’ fragrance, and that the perfumer’s skill is in reviving it after the solvent extraction process! They illustrate this with two fragrances composed by Jean-Claude Ellena – Osmanthus for The Different Company (2001), which is true to its nature with peach and lemon top notes, and the uplifting Osmanthe Yunnan for Hermès (2005) which pays tribute to its traditional uses by including Yunnan smoked tea notes alongside freesia, orange and apricots. Other well known, ‘mainstream’ fragrances that claim to include osmanthus or an osmanthus ‘note’ are Eternity (Calvin Klein 1988), Escape (also Calvin Klein 1991, but since reformulated), and Sunflowers (Arden 1993). The artisan perfumer Alec Lawless, who worked mainly with natural raw materials, commented on his experience working with osmanthus absolute when composing Kuan Yin (Essentially Me); it produced an unexpected, delicate note of peach blossom (Lawless 2009).

It would seem that the fragrance of osmanthus has, for a long time, been regarded as uplifting. A study on the mood effects of fragrance conducted by Warren and Warrenburg in 1993 included a synthetic version of osmanthus. It was shown to increase feelings of stimulation and happiness, decrease feelings of irritation and stress, and prominently decrease depression and apathy; it had no significant effect on feelings of sensuality or relaxation. So, in the west, where we cannot readily access the fragrant flowers, we could consider using the scent of the absolute to lift our spirits. As autumn progresses, and after the equinox the days grow shorter and darker, many of us experience low mood, lethargy or even ‘seasonal affective disorder’. Osmanthus can offer us a beautiful, safe way to restore balance.

Jennifer Peace Rhind is a Chartered Biologist with a Ph.D. in Mycotoxicology from the University of Strathclyde. Her long-standing interest in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has led to qualifications in massage, aromatherapy and reflexology. She co-founded the first professionally accredited CAM school in Scotland and remains involved in scent education. She has written several books on aromatherapy, published by Singing Dragon, the latest is Listening to Scent, a guide to training your olfactory palate. She lives in Biggar near the Scottish Borders.

References

Kaiser, R. (2006) Meaningful Scents around the World. Zurich: Verlag Helvetica Chimica Acta & Wiley VCH.

Lawless, A. (2009) Artisan Perfumery or Being Led by the Nose. Stroud: Boronia Souk Ltd.

Turin, L. & Sanchez, T. (2009) Perfumes: The A-Z Guide. London: Profile Books Ltd.

Warren, C and Warrenburg, S. (1993) Mood benefits of fragrance. International Journal of Aromatherapy 5, 2, 12-16.

 

VIDEO: The Spiritual Practice of Walking, Standing, Sitting and Lying Down with Cain Carroll

Cain Carroll, author of The Four Dignities, briefly talks about the power of Embodied Presence and the significance of approaching walking, standing, sitting and lying down as four interrelated methods of spiritual cultivation:

The Four Dignities

“Cain Carroll has produced a must-have book that is essential reading for any self-respecting person on the path of self-cultivation. A wonderful collection of wisdom from diverse traditions that serves to illuminate the simple universal truths at their heart. This book needs to be with you standing, walking, sitting or lying down.

Gordon Faulkner, Principal Instructor, Chanquanshu School of Daoist Arts and author of Managing Stress with Qigong

 

Singing Dragon attends the annual British Acupuncture Council conference

The annual British Acupuncture Council conference, this year held for the first time in Daventry in Northamptonshire, took place on 26-28 September and was a great success.

Franglen, NoraEckman, Peter (photo by Marina Chentsova Eckman)This was my first trip to the conference representing Singing Dragon as Senior Commissioning Editor and I was thrilled with our strong presence at the conference and to witness the real buzz around our books, particularly those authored by conference speakers. Our authors Peter Eckman and Nora Franglen spoke at the conference; Nora delivering the Keynote lecture on Saturday and Peter delivering a two-part lecture on ‘Resonance and spirit’. This was Peter’s first visit to the UK since 1997 so it was a privilege to hear him speak and the British Acupuncture Council were delighted to welcome him to conference.

Kevin Durjan, Conference Manager, said last year that he was trying to bring back the spiritual side of acupuncture to the BAcC and this was clearly evident in the choice of the theme of ‘Shen‘ for this year’s conference. The lectures, sessions and workshops ranged from very practical sessions with skills which practitioners could immediately take back to their practice (Andy Harrop’s wonderful two-part ‘The treatment of scars using Japanese acupuncture’ is a prime example) to excellent insights into classical theory relating to spirit (Peter Eckman’s talks, and those of Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallee).

Buck, CharlesBuck_Acupuncture-and_978-1-84819-159-4_colourjpg-webSinging Dragon’s expansive book list was commented on by many visiting the stand and we sold many books, particularly Peter Eckman’s The Compleat Acupuncturist, Nora Franglen’s series on Five Element Acupuncture, and of course Charles Buck’s new book Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Singing Dragon sponsored the wine reception on Saturday evening and we had a fantastic book launch of Charles Buck’s book. Charles and I enjoyed introducing the book to all those assembled in the evening sunshine and he then signed copies afterwards. The book is an accessible and engaging journey through the history of Chinese medicine that explains how modern practice has evolved and, importantly, reminds us that it will continue to evolve and adapt to modern circumstances.

As Charles says in his introduction, ‘We will see that classical Chinese medicine is really not a single tradition but the constant reinterpretation and adjustment of classical doctrine to meet the changing clinical challenges of different times, and yet supported by the structure that the ancient truisms gave‘.

By Claire Wilson, Senior Commissioning Editor for Singing Dragon

Master Zhongxian Wu provides an introduction into the history of the Dai Family Heart Mind Six Unions Martial Arts

Wu_XinYi-WuXing-He_978-1-84819-224-9_colourjpg-printIn this article for Tai Chi Chuan and Oriental Arts magazine, Master Zhongxian Wu provides an introduction to the Dai Family Internal Martial Arts by deconstructing the components of its traditional Chinese name and how each affects the spiritual practice.

He explains the traditional Chinese meaning of each component and how it effects the spiritual practice.

Read the article…

Master Zhongxian Wu’s DVDs ‘XinYi WuXing’ and ‘XinYi BaGua’ are available from the Singing Dragon website.

An Introduction to the Bowen Technique – extract from Using the Bowen Technique to Address Complex and Common Conditions

Wilks-Knight_Using-the-Bowen_978-1-84819-167-9_colourjpg-printIn this extract, John Wilks and Isobel Knight provide an introduction into the history and general usage of The Bowen Technique using a very unusual metaphor.

Read the extract…

Using the Bowen Technique to Address Complex and Common Conditions is available from the Singing Dragon website.