Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Tips in Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment of Epidemics, Cold & Flu

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

In light of the concerns for the coronavirus and the common but dangerous flu this winter, I think it is useful to take a look at Traditional Chinese Medicine due to its long history of dealing with these health concerns.

Classical Chinese medical texts and medical records have multiple references to epidemic febrile diseases that exerted heavy burdens on Chinese populations throughout the ages. Because of the large impact of these pathogens, serious observational science went into crafting theories to understand these epidemics and then care was used to create herbal formulas to manage these epidemics, as well as less virulent pathogens like the common cold and flu.

The early classics of medicine (e.g. Huang Di Nei Jing, Nan Jing, Shang Han Lun, about 200 B.C.–220 A.D.) credited epidemic diseases to the invasion of the body by pathogenic cold and wind, classifying them as “cold damage disorders”.  This was essentially the origin of Chinese medical culture as we know it. Starting in the colder northern regions, they aimed to manage colds and flus which can be deadly if not treated properly. With the Shang Han Lun or Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders (written sometime before 220 AD) by Zhang Zhongjing, the “cold damage disorder” theory evolved into highly effective clinical principles regarding these environmental attacks. Considered invisible but dangerous material from the outside, these disorders usually entered the body in the form of 6 potential stages, with the internal health of the patient determining if the disease, here possibly a cold or flu, might move more quickly.

Much like we see in colds and flu now, one can often manage it by monitoring severity of symptoms and its aggression or latency.  However, Chinese medicine crafted complicated antiviral, antibiotic and antimicrobial as well as immuno-modulating herbal formulas to help stop these disorders.  These formulas from the Shang Han Lun work so well they are still used today all over the world. It is considered one of the greatest texts in herbal medicine, certainly in East Asia to this day (although as time moves on, many other classics now exist). Thus, while the common cold and flu are dangerous, Chinese medicine feels that if many more of us used the herbal formulas that have worked for them – and which are taken at the very first sign of trouble, and while practicing a healthy lifestyle, that many more people’s lives would be spared in the winter.

With the creation of the “School of Warm Diseases” (Qing Dynasty, 1644–1911), a new concept of epidemic diseases emerged: distinction between “warm diseases” and “cold damage disorders”, role of a warm “epidemic (or pestilential) qi” or “epidemic toxin” in their occurrence, body invasion through the mouth and nose, high contagiousness, specificity of the epidemic qi according to the species (human or animal) and the nature of the epidemic disease.  This is a result of Chinese culture and the kingdoms moving into the warmer and tropical regions, dealing with malaria and other very different and highly dangerous diseases. They recognized cold and flu formulas do not work in these cases and things were dire at times. These attacks are not stages like in cold disease theory, they fold into one of 4 stages and the disease was viewed as being able to move right into the deepest stage and are much more problematic if they get out of hand, thus they are more likely to turn into difficult to control and treat epidemics.  

Chinese physicians are a heroic sort and before these theories were understood doctors would go to villages and observe the people and issues.  In fact according to John Chen (PharmD, LAc, and scholar), classical Chinese physicians noted in writing that something “invisible to the senses is being passed between the people” a full 600 years before Western medicine would accept germ theory.  When they found a formula that was working to help, they would inscribe them on stone in the villages so the people and local doctors could have something they couldn’t lose or forget to get them started managing these epidemics. In fact, the Nobel prize for medicine was awarded a few years back to a modern Chinese biologist who also studies classical Chinese herbal medicine. Her findings came from isolating one of the compounds used in an herbal formula from in these older classical combinations.

It is worth noting in light of these theories that I have some colleagues who have other colleagues working in China modern day and dealing with coronavirus, and they sent over translated herbal formulas to let us know what Chinese medicine is currently using against the coronavirus.  Based on signs and symptoms, they do consider it a Warm disease which means it is more aggressive and dangerous if it gets out of hand. The climate of the disease does not matter. What matters is how the disorder presents through a patient’s collective symptomology. That being said, besides taking the herbs they would recommend for this disorder, observing the general rules for not passing germs and not exhausting your internal capacity to fight them back are important. 

To care for yourself is important. It is prioritizing your wellness. 

Here are some tips on how to stay healthy this winter:

  • Good sleep (before 11pm) for 8 hours or more
  • Eating a healthy diet also according to Traditional Chinese concerns (stop icing drinks, over eating sugar or fake foods, eating too much or little or unregulated times.
  • Proper hygiene, washing one’s hands (20 seconds), not touching one’s face, cleaning surfaces you use often, covering ones face and mouth if sneezing, coughing (incidentally this is where face masks are helpful, to stop you from touching your face, but in reality won’t do much else to prevent spreading or these viruses).
  • Not walking into cold or wind without proper protection of the body, especially the back of the neck and face and especially after opening the pores from exercise.
  • Use a saline nasal rinse and gargle with hot salted water (this is more Auyervedic but a nice way to keep this tissue healthy and clear out any material unwanted in the area).
  • Taking herbs to help strengthen the body (adaptagens) like ginseng (American ginseng is most balanced) reishi fungus and astragalus.
  • Talk to your doctor about optimizing your vitamin D, zinc, and vitamin C levels. These nutrients are particularly important for optimal immune function and may be depleted in the typical diet, and in the winter depending on location.
  • Stay hydrated. Water is at the foundation of our health. Clean/filtered water consumed regularly helps keep our whole system functioning optimally, including our immune systems.
  • Don’t panic! An outbreak is scary, but most people will experience COVID-19 as a mild illness. Prolonged, toxic stress inhibits immune function, so whether it is fear about the virus or excess stress at home or work, do what you can to give your system a break and restore. 
  • Exercise, acupuncture, nutritional and herbal supplements recommended by your healthcare practitioner, qigong/tai chi, yoga, meditation, or whatever your “go-to” to unwind must take priority now. These are not luxuries! Take care of yourself.
  • Flu is a concern more than coronavirus in terms of probability. Vaccines attempting to mitigate the flu are widely available. If you are around small children, or the infirm, or the elderly often, or are older than 65, this is highly recommended. Speak with your doctor and decide what’s best for you.
  • A way to stay in front of viruses daily is by taking herbal medicines used for centuries to fight off a viral infection as SOON as you feel you may be getting sick or – even better – take some to be preventative. 

I started my own cold and flu line called HERBS FROM EAST, to help my clients fight back against these issues and have these easily on hand in easy to administer liquid tinctures. They are based on the Warm theory formulas.    

Here are the names of the herbal formula I based on traditional ones to help the immune system fight off viruses and in some formulas secondary bacterial infections while benefiting the immune system:

PREVENTION – to protect yourself before you get sick. Filled with adaptogens to help immunity.

INVASION – take this as soon as you feel issues especially in the throat and sinuses and head Our most commonly sold item with strong antiviral herbs.

ELIMINATION – take this if the issues move into your chest and there is mucus and difficulty expectorating.

You can buy them here or in my offices for a $5 discount. Otherwise they are shipped to you with priority mail asap. You can order them from this link below or simply email me back. It come’s out to roughly a little over $3 a day to fight back against viral illness using good quality, third party tested, herbs (no animal products and quality controlled).

http://herbsfromeast.com/

Needless to say I take my Chinese herbal tinctures every day, whether to strengthen my body or relieve something coming on.  I rarely get sick and have seen radical changes in my clients who learn to treat their cold and flu in the model I have been discussing.  

I have herbs prepared and ready to go if anyone needs a bottle – for clients or family or friends. I feel this information needs to get out.  We don’t handle colds and flus very well in the States I feel. Inoculate (get the flu shot) if you feel you need it – for certain for those with lower potential natural immunity, or if you live or work with them, then protect yourself at every turn with Chinese herbal medicine. This is the best method I have found. The reactions to these formulas has been often nothing short of astounding for many who take them.  The main goal and reality being one never gets fully sick and “dodges” these full on symptoms which would take you out of commission.

The ideas in Chinese medicine are that as soon as a virus (or pestilent qi) is in the body, attack it before it embeds itself deeper and it is more complicated to kill and the body is now compromised.  Close the door on the invading intruder in other words. While we don’t know if it fights off every strain of new flu, or the coronavirus specifically, these herbs have been helpful for centuries.

One bottle will last for many dosages and tinctures. They do not go bad on the shelf for years as they are partially preserved in alcohol. Take 2 to 3 half droppers full 2 to 3 x a day with a little water or add boiled water to evaporate the alcohol and then drink when cooled.

Of course integrative medicine is a smart way to be a modern human. So if these herbs are taken at first signs and your initial condition does not improve in 4 days, and particularly if it gets worse, you should contact your physician as usual. Lungs are “delicate organs” according to Chinese medicine and in reality.

The idea with adding Chinese herbs to your cold and flu regiment is not to sit idly by while it gets worse and instead fight back.  Also a reminder antibiotics don’t help initial viral infections (most all colds and flu) so be careful about asking for some. We don’t want to create a super-bug that is resistant to these drugs one day.

I hope this email is helpful for those of you curious about the evolution of medical perceptions on epidemic diseases through Chinese classics of medicine and how we can use them to help modern day concerns. Chinese medicine stresses the importance of the growing awareness of variations in local and regional environments, and how we can use these ideas to effectively fight back and aim to manage these issues while they arise.

Chinese herbal medicine and wisdom learned from managing epidemics have been used for thousands of years, but Mother Nature finds new ways to express these illnesses and there are times where there is a gap between what we know can work and what is working. Stay vigilant, as there are no guarantees in medicine – but there are best bets for fighting back.

Any questions please email me.

Warm regards,

Mitchell Harris LAc

Maximize Positivity This Winter!

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

Fortunately (you will understand why I say this later), this cold fall season has turned quickly into something colder and winter-ier. As this happens take a little mental note right now. What emotions do you notice around this topic? I’m not talking about the potential feelings of having family events soon for the holidays. I’m talking about the words…

WINTER

in

CHICAGO.

Do you feel:

Joy / Appreciation / Delight

Or

Fear / Anticipation / Agitation

It is human nature to commiserate with each other whenever we can. It brings a small group into unity under an idea or value. In Chicago, we tend to collectively enjoy this bonding over being, well, basically frustrated and upset that this season is upon us. While it’s an attempt at a group harmony, and a natural reaction to a winter experience in a city that does not have much value for snow beyond traffic, it is important to think about your holistic view of health in body and mind in your approach.

Chinese medicine teaches us that every emotion has an energy imprint associated with it. When we read your pulse, look at your tongue and ask you questions and hear your symptoms we are evaluating that “energy” and its effects on the body and mind. And I am here to tell you, those little things we do every day add up. I see it on my treatment table every week.

I know we have reason to be concerned about the weather. A cold snap can tighten the body and the snow here often turns to street mush. As you may have guessed, the emotions associated with Fear / Anticipation / Agitation are quite a bit more harmful than those or Joy / Appreciation / Delight although to be honest the Eastern philosophy wants a balance of them all and don’t chase joy around either necessarily. However, frustration and anger every time you look at the weather report for 6 months out of the year.

So my question to you is, what if we did not experience frustration automatically for all the months that we have winter? Who would we be and would we want to be that person more? What symptoms may get better in ourselves and what may open up?

I am like everyone else. I suffer from dreading the winter snap and I feel that I can lose half the year waiting for warm weather again.

Think about the American winter schedule. We have something possibly look forward to or get stressed about at the end of November with Thanksgiving, depending how well we get along with family.

Then we have Hanukkah sometime around then and Christmas in December.
Then….
crickets….
nothing….
we just
….wait.
Wait for the start of spring which can be May or even June for it to truly warm up in Chicago. That is 5-6 months where the main feeling is frustration I would say and nothing cultural as a celebration of the season to celebrate anymore. We are not setting ourselves up for success if you ask me.

I often aim do a creative project to come out of winter with something, but this year I decided I want to do more for my health.

So for inspiration I tend to look at other cultures and aim to understand how they have approached a topic.

Other countries do things differently, through culture, philosophies, collective insight, through survival instincts. So I am looking north to places that actually dare I say ENJOY the winter. Even when it’s dark – a lot – and for a loooong time.

Turns out a researcher, Kari Leibowitz, went to Norway to find out why a country that has at some points 24 hours of darkness, does not seem to suffer from what we like to call this concern: Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD).

What this researched asked was “Why do you think your country does not suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder as much as other places?”

They responded.

“Why should we?”

Norway has some key ideas to take away. Here are the tips.

https://www.fastcompany.com/3052970/the-norwegian-secret-to-enjoying-a-long-winter

Tip #1: Aim to enjoy more than endure.

What I take from this is that they have many mini holiday and social events linking them to their community and the more beautiful parts of winter. (The snow, the coziness, the fireside warmth, the glogg )

This is simply something that one can adjust by perhaps creating your OWN holiday in between – I plan to treat it like I would summer. Get a vacation or stay-cation weekend and appreciate the weather or the mood, or if its truly harsh outside, enjoy the vibe of being cozy inside. The point is to take time. Celebrate the season more often, and without the holiday or family stressors.

http://www.midwestliving.com/travel/around-the-region/15-great-midwest-winter-weekend-escapes

Tip #2: Get your Cozy on and Create Your Own Winter Community.

Norwegians also have the word “koselig”, which means a sense of coziness. We may escape into netflix binging but I want to point out that often this word also is associated with being in evoked in groups – similar to what happens if you camp out with people and bundle up when its colder out at night.

So they don’t tend to do this alone. They have many mini festivals and social gatherings to maximize the fun. Check out this simple wonderful winter activity that is one of my favorites – a Soup Swap where everyone brings some soup and every one walks away with 6 or more different soups to enjoy the rest of the winter and a festive cozy time is had in the process. You can set one up for your and your local community of friends and neighbors!

https://www.thekitchn.com/soup-swap-101-how-to-throw-a-soup-swap-gatherings-from-the-kitchn-214884

Tip #3 Get Out and In It.

Find the right gear and get dressed appropriately and check it out outside! Even when it is dark out there is an appreciation for the lighting and winter weather in Norway.

We tend to curse the wind. And it can howl at us. But it is also a powerful experience and if dressed right can be invigorating. And if that is too much
perhaps a trip somewhere calmer where you can enjoy the winter in a more serene way is best. The city may not always seem pretty but if you take time you can find it.

I plan on doing something more outdoors this winter. I went skiing last year for the first time in 25 years and I hope to be able to perhaps snow ski also somewhere along the lake. Maybe find a cozy cottage and enjoy some winter walks around some beautiful trees. I even found a tree house Air BnB that looks like a fun winter getaway to appreciate nature within.

https://hikinginfinland.com/2014/02/layering-guide-how-to-dress-for-winter.html

Tip #4 – Get your Herbs Game On.

This one has to do with something I know Chinese culture figured out. They have amazing anti-viral herbs for colds and flu. We have antibiotic medication. Colds and flus are often viruses. So it makes sense to practice the Chinese methods. It’s as simple as that. You can beat back a cold before it even gets started.

Please feel free contact me as soon as or before you get a cold or the flu so I can try to help you with Chinese herbal medicine and a treatment and you can often prevent or cut short a cold.

Chinese culture celebrates nature deeply but has warnings about the cold. The fall early winter is also a time when the Lungs are energetically not at their peak and so upper respiratory issues come quickly. Never fear, because of this some of the earliest classical Chinese medicine texts evolved out of a desire to combat winter colds and flu. I have many herbal formulas in easy tincture or pill form that can help you stave off a cold before it even gets going, seriously. Truly amazing stuff and enough information for another email.

Learn more here:

http://herbsfromeast.com/

Be well until then!

Sincerely,

Mitch Harris LAc

P.S. Don’t forget, initial consultations are always free. Come on in, meet with me, and see if my personal blend of holistic medical services are a good fit for you or someone you care about.

The Largest Acupuncture Study You Have Never Heard Of.

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Have you ever had someone ask if acupuncture has any scientific and clinic basis beyond it’s long history of use?

Despite the easy act of looking in PubMed (a major respected resource for scientific studies) for Acupuncture related articles and over 7,000 hits coming up, there are large Meta-Analysis (Vickers et al. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Oct 22;172(19):1444-53) looking at multiple random controlled trials at once on Acupuncture and Chronic pain showing statistical benefits (P values). However one of my favorites for clinic insight and sheer impressive volume was performed in 1990s, the German Federal Committee of Physicians and Statutory Sickness Funds initiated a large-scale observational study to determine the effectiveness and adverse effects of acupuncture in real-life clinical practice in patients with chronic headache, low back pain and osteoarthritic pain.

The primary outcome was the physicians rating of the therapeutic effects of the acupuncture. Overall, 454,920 patients were analyzed within the first 2 years, with over 3,840,000 acupuncture sessions between them, making this the largest acupuncture study in history as well as one of the largest observational studies in the history of medical research.

Almost half of these patients were treated for chronic low back pain, followed by osteoarthritis and then headache. The physicians involved in the study, who were all medical doctors with training in acupuncture ranging from 140 hours to 350 hours, scored each of their patients to determine if there was improvement from the acupuncture. Overall, 21.8% of patients showed “marked improvement”, 54% showed “moderate improvement”, 16.1% showed “minimal” or slight improvement. Only 3.9% showed no change or got worse and 4.2% were unable to judge, while 9.4% stopped treatment for various reasons. Overall, there were not many adverse effects, those that were are almost unheard of from Licensed Acupucnturists due to far superior clincal training. Somehow the study (performed by MDs) makes the dubious claim that more acupuncture training my MD’s performing acupuncture did not make a difference in safety (comparing I guess 150 hours to maybe 300 hour?) while Licensed Acupuncturists earn approximately 1000 clinical hours in the USA of acupuncture training and have demonstrated higher safety stats elsewhere.

Take in these results considering the question posed at the start of this post. This means 450,000 patients and over 3.8 million acupuncture treatments for over 2 years performed by clinician MDs (who are most likely not advanced at acupuncture) and their success rates for moderate to marked improvement were at roughly 75% in total for all who were in this HUGE trial.

So for lower back, osteoarthritis or headaches – all very common ailments acupuncture can be backed up to show moderate to marked improvement with frequent care (weekly most likely) that involved no major risk to their health statistically and no drug or surgical intervention whcih minimizes the cost and risk of further complications. No matter how acupuncture works, this means it is safe, effective for these conditions – especially when looked at in conjunction to the meta-analysis of chronic pain. And this can only be improved upon with better trained clinicians performing it, as Licensed Acupuncturist are compared to medical doctors, chiropractors or physical therapist who perform acupuncture or dry needling.

This data was gathered by Germany, one of the most respected health systems in the Western world, and their state run insurance agencies ended up covering acupuncture for these medical reasons for the simple and obvious fact that it would reduce the dependence or risk for more costly procedures.

One must ask ourselves then why in America have we not adapted this strategy? Could it be that power and financial interests run deeper in our health care system than others? That medical professions or corporate companies are acting as turf protectors of patient dollars? Capitalism can good for many reasons if it is reigned in for the benefit of the people it is meant to serve. Is our health care serving our best interests and who are making these decisions considering the data that is available on the safety and cost effectiveness on acupuncture for some of our most common medical ailments?

Sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18054725
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22965186

How the time flies! Centered Studios reaches 3 years old. Wellness and yoga studio venture with EIH had another Bday~

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

The joint venture of Centered Studios came together when Mitch’s wife, Amy, discussed her dream to opening a yoga studio in her neighborhood partnered with Mitch’s desire to have an acupuncture practice closer to home and in his neighborhood. They opened Centered Studios 3 years ago in Rogers Park in April and have since provided a space for movement, healing, peace, community, meditation, events, pop ups and other healing arts colleagues to offer their services to the far north side of Chicago. Mitch and his practice work at Centered every Wednesday and Saturday from 2-6 pm in two rooms. You can book at this site. Oh, and your FIRST clas is always FREE at Centered Studio! Check it out and enjoy~