One question that I hardly ever get asked is if I think alcohol is bad for humans to consume. I don't think people really want to know, or they have made up their mind already. Several studies have concluded over the past few years that a couple of drinks a day seems to be good for us, especially if the drink is red wine (due in part to the presence of resveritrol). Also, beer has seen some recent studies show it's health benefits. However, a very recently released study has concluded that no amount of alcohol consumption is good for us. This is from a global meta-analysis, meaning it looked at a whole set of other studies to reach its conclusion. From a western medicine perspective alcohol is a hepatotoxin. meaning it is toxic to the liver. This might not be a huge deal in moderation, but because of all the toxicity in our modern it might be best to be good to your liver. From a Chinese medicine perspective alcohol is damp and hot, and many of us will not benefit from adding more of this to our body. But I found a paragraph from an Atlantic article about this study that I think makes some sense and I will conclude with this: Even taken at the global scale, the harm associated with a single daily serving of alcohol was tiny—almost zero. So not everyone need worry. It’s difficult to think of anything in life that’s without risk, especially recreational activities. The risk of riding in a car to a bar is risky, as is going out into the world in any form. A sedentary, isolated life at home is also risky. The health benefit of any change in lifestyle can only be measured by comparison.
As the summer ends and we are going into fall, it is time to be thinking about the coming of winter, when we need to slow things down and store up energy for spring (the philosophy of the winter season is one of conservation and storage). Sounds strange huh? This of course is according to Chinese medical philosophy which is very concerned with preventing disease. Whether we feel it or not, according to this ancient and wise philosophy, our bodies do cycle as the seasons do. We should be doing different things through the year in order to stay healthy. Here is a quote from the Nei Jing (Huang Di Nei Jing (《黄帝内经》Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon) is the earliest and most important written work of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It was compiled over 2,200 years ago during the Warring States period (475-221 BC) and is regarded as the fundamental and most representative medical text): ' So the cycle can be seen. Spring is the beginning of things, when the energy should be kept open and fluid; summer opens up further into an exchange of communication between internal and external energies; in the fall it is important to conserve; finally, the winter is dominated by the storage of energy.' More later.
For many years we have noticed a significant uptick in the number of sciatica cases we see late in the summer so much so that we have called late summer 'sciatica time'. Some years are worse than others and this year is near the top. This cannot be a coincidence. In Chinese Medicine we know that our environment greatly effects our bodies. And toward the end of any season the body has been weakened to some degree by the relentless onslaught of the dominant environment. In late summer the dominating environment is hot and damp. And this year has been especially damp. It is the dampness that seems primarily to cause this uptick in sciatica in people. How does this effect how we treat sciatica? In this season of the year sciatica cannot be treated as just a simple structural disc problem. The dampness and heat that the body is experiencing must also be addressed. This is done by adding acupuncture points, working on the diet, and maybe prescribing some chinese herbs to help.
Benjamin Franklin said ' an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' over 200 years ago. And it is just as true now, maybe truer, than it was then. I look at a website daily called medicalnewstoday.com, which is a pretty good synopsis of current news in medicine. One thing that stands out to me about this site is that most of the articles are about the search for a new pill to solve a medical problem. There is usually nothing or very little about prevention. And this is the norm in our society, we wait until we are sick to think about our health. Then we search for a pill to make us better. In imperial China I have read that the emperor's court physician was paid when the emporer was healthy and payments stopped when the emperor was ill. In our society we have to take more responsibility than an emperor for our own health, but this type of thinking, that prevention is the way, can help us educate ourselves and make good choices.
One of the more common symptoms of perimenopause or menopause is poor sleep. As you might have heard, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help with this transitory time and the host of symptoms that can accompany it. It does this without the side effects or outright dangers that taking hormone replacement can have. So for anyone wishing to forgo taking hormones, Chinese medicine is an effective and health promoting way to help. As far as helping sleep goes, acupuncture usually combined with a Chinese herbal formula taken at bedtime will usually help. We have a number of formulas that we have found over the years to be effective for helping you sleep deeper and better.
In the last post I commented that eating pasture raised is best because the animals are eating what they are intended to eat and therefore are healthier and the products made from them are healthier for us. Another reason is that pasture raised animal products are higher in vitamin K2. In a post some months ago I mentioned a great book that tells us why we need vitamin K2. This book is called 'Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Pradox' and you can find it on Amazon. In short K2 tells our body where to deposit any calcium that we ingest including in supplements. As the book explains, most of us are indeed deficient in K2 and this causes our body to put calcium not in our bones but rather in our arteries and even in our brain! This can cause heart disease, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's. So this is really important!!! So I recommend that you add as much pasture raised products as possible. This includes meats such as beef and chicken and also eggs, yogurt, milk and cheese. Or you can take a supplement which comes in two forms: MK4 and MK7. Do a little research on google or youtube and get started soon.
Pasture raised products are showing up more and more in health-oriented as well as some more standard grocery stores as well and at farmer's markets. Why is this? Of course products will increase if they are in demand and for some reason people seem to be becoming more aware that grass fed or pasture raised is the way to go for health. A big problem in the US primarily is that we feed our animals what is cheap and will fatten them up the fastest instead of what makes them healthy. Previous to factor farming, animals mainly were raised in pastures and were much healthier. If you go to Europe, where factory farming is not done you will notice how much better the food is. But maybe the market is causing a change here. People are starting to realize that eating better food is perhaps the best way to stay healthy. Next I will discuss more specific reasons pasture raised products are better.
Monte Jackson, owner Acupuncture Center of Richmond