As most of us will agree, the typical American diet is not a very healthy one as diets go. There are many factors involved and I will go over some of them in future postings. To me though the number one problem might just be the large amounts of sugar we ingest here. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I want to recommend that you watch a documentary that covers this issue very well. Its called 'That Sugar Film'. The film follows the main character as he eats the average amount of sugar in the average american's diet (which is about 19 teaspoon a day or 66 pounds a year!) for 2 months. The interesting thing is that he does this without eating anything that we typically think of as desert or even as sugary foods. He only eats things that have added sugar. So, what he is eating most people would consider healthy food. You can probably guess what the results are (think of a similar experiment you might have seen in the movie 'Super Size Me' that came out in the 90s). One interesting fact from the documentary was that if you took everything off the shelves of the average American grocery store that had added sugar, only 20% of the products would remain! So, 80% of things in our grocery stores have sugar added in order to sell their product!!!
I made a statement the other day to one of my patients who was in the office for trigeminal neuralgia. What I said was this: I have never treated anyone for trigeminal neuralgia who wasn't a women over 40. Never. Of course this is just my experience. This age can be around the start of peri-menopause. When women start peri-menopause the inflammation in their body increases, as does the chances of illness such as TN or even something like rheumatoid arthritis. And even though someone might be well past menopause the inflammation can continue for many years. From a Chinese medical perspective this is all that is going on. So with our medicine the solution is rather simple and that is to use acupuncture and Chinese herbs to cut this extra inflammation (called heat in Chinese medicine). And our results are often quick and very good.
One of the things that I like about Chinese medicine is that it treats disease from the inside out. This means that, unlike western medicine, we are not just treating the symptoms. This is a bit harsh because some of the western medicine does treat the cause, such as in an infection. An infection is cause by a pathogen and drugs are given to kill the pathogen. But in many cases and especially in chronic conditions, the symptoms alone are treated. For instance migraine is treated with drugs to kill the pain. But the underlying cause of the migraine, the reason one person gets migraines and another person does not, is not addressed. In Chinese medicine we will always ask why (unless you fell off your bike hurt your knee and there is no doubt). This is what I mean by treating disease from the inside out. To really cure something the deepest cause must be fixed. If the symptoms alone are treated than the disease mechanism which underlies it can, and usually will, go right on marching alone, getting stronger. And often a root cause that is not addressed will go deeper. This is how severe chronic conditions are created and how nearly untreatable disease can happen. It's always easier to treat a disease before it settles deep in the body. It's always easier for instance to treat a skin condition before it does deeper and effects the muscles and even deeper and effects an organ.