Relieving Anxiety with Traditional Chinese Medicine

IMG_3833
These marks are from cupping and guasha. Inflammation is the muscles is relieved as it is dredged out toward the surface. The marks go away, and symptoms of pain and anxiety often follow.

🔥❣️This patient was dealing with a general feeling of anxiety, shortness of breath and brain fog. Acupuncture was done at key points to address dampness, strengthen the spleen, reduce heart heat and soothe liver Qi. After that, some tuina, cupping and guasha were applied along the Taiyang & shaoyang meridians of the back to clear heat and unbind the chest. As you can see, the scapular muscles (especially on the right) needed some attention!

☯️💧Anxiety is not always contingent on our emotional circumstances. Sometimes it is due to physical conditions affecting the viscera, such as the heart. For example? Drinking too much coffee or alcohol can inflame the blood, which can then irritate the Shen (aka the mind/spirit). By working with the physiological aspects of the body, and extracting the heat, the mind and spirit can be positively altered and anxiety can be relieved. It’s a win – win situation for muscle health and mental health! 😁

Cupping, for Muscular Tension & Liver Inflammation

One of cuppings’ most tantalizing applications is its ability to dredge the intercostals by gently sliding the apparatus along the muscular & fascial contours of the ribs. It can feel quite invigorating, and, as you can see, draws lots of “blood heat” out toward the epidermis, producing a skin redness akin to a guasha treatment.

⚛ Here I am working around 🌳Ganshu (BL18), the back shu point of the liver. Heat in the blood can come from overconsumption of fatty foods, drugs and alcohol—all of which are tended to by the livers enzymes & cytochromes. An excess of these foods and drinks can inflame the liver and irritate digestion and mood. Blood heat (inflammation) can also build up from stress and anxiety, which trigger production of immunosuppressant hormones like cortisol. No Bueno. 💣 The sliding cup helps pull out the heat while opening and dispersing stagnant materials in the exterior body tissues: pain is diminished as blood is moved. The serratus muscles are given a great release as well.

⚖ A reduction in body temperature is something I’ve often noticed, too. Quite a nice therapy when you feel hot all the time!

 

🔥🔥 come try it some time. You’ll not regret it~

5 Awesome Apps for Acupuncturists, Bodyworkers & Herbalists

For each patient there are many dimensions and parameters to consider as a holistic healer. On the one hand, L.Acs, Dipl. OMs and ABTs are taught  ancient diagnostic philosophies for identifying syndrome patterns (yin/ yang deficiency, liver qi stagnation, spleen qi deficiency, etc.). By scrutinizing the patient’s tongue and pulse, acupuncturists are afforded a plethora of biological information that can direct herbal prescriptions and enhance acupuncture protocols, without even vocalizing or subjecting a patient to inquiry. Yet, as we integrate Eastern and Western medicine, it becomes necessary to have the ability to easily read laboratory tests, remember point locations, herbal indications, and so on. It is a lot to ask of one human’s brain!

Thankfully we have our handy phones and tablets. The following apps have been absolutely pivotal to maintaining a good understanding of all the variables affecting my patient. Enjoy~

1. A Manual of Acupuncture

This is an amazing app that is essential for any acupuncturist or student of acupuncture. It is clean and well organized. The diagrams are very informative, and if you’re a fan of the book, then you’ll be pleased with the digitization.  The video examples are extremely informative, too. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this one.

Download here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/a-manual-of-acupuncture/id472969769?mt=8

 

2. Eastland Herb – Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica, Formulas & Strategies. By Dan Bensky et al.

This app is a fantastic addition to any TCM herbalist’s arsenal. Every digital entry of the herbal specimens mirror the physical book’s information, but it is organized in such a way that makes it easily searchable, and about 20 lbs lighter! If you enjoy high quality reference material, with well integrated knowledge of both herbal singles and the popular formulae that use them, this is a great app for you. My favorite part about the literature is the well researched history of each herbs

Download here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/eastland-herb-chinese-herbal/id737380894?mt=8

 

3. AnatomyMapp

One of my favorite books for bodywork and tuina is The Trail Guide to the Body. It is incredibly informative, full of fantastic tips for understanding the body’s anatomy in a biological and holistic sense. The author worked diligently to illustrate the body in very organized segments, from the head to the toes. The muscle groups, their functions, nerve connections, insertion and origins are detailed scrupulously investigated and detailed. This app is similar to the Deadman app, as it streamlines a lot of data and makes it accessible in a clinical setting. I highly recommend it.

Download here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/anatomymapp/id510119487?mt=8

4. LabGear

LabGear is an app that makes the effective herbalist much more powerful and ensures a greater level of security and care for the patient. As we all know, herbs are filled with biochemicals that are often used as the basis for prescription medicine and pharmaceuticals. When herbs and drugs are combined, many interactions can occur, and without proper administration, the health of a patient can be affected. With LabGear, an herbalist can easily read and understand the CBCs, hormone panels, liver panels and so on. Combined with Eastland herb’s app, and its biochemical information,  you’ll be ensuring a better practice for both you and your clients.

 

Download here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/labgear-medical-lab-tests/id350942163?mt=8

5. Essential Anatomy 5

While BodyMapp and A Manual of Acupuncture offer excellent 2-dimensional resources for point location, Essential Anatomy 5 presents a 3-dimensional perspective, which affords both practitioner and patient the ability to perceive what tissues, vascularization, tendons, nerves are being pierced of manipulated. When a patient can literally see the pathway of nerves, lymph and blood, it becomes easier to explain concepts of Qi Stagnation, Blood stagnation and how pain along particular meridians manifests. Moreso, it enhances our understanding of a body’s holistic interconnectivity. A great addition to your app arsenal.

Download here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/essential-anatomy-5/id596684220?mt=8

 

I hope these apps help you as much as they have helped me in my practice. I will continue to search and document useful tools for your knowledge. It takes a lot of resources to maintain the overwhelming about of medical data that exists presently. By expanding our toolkit, we ensure the best for our patients.

 

 

 

Tuina Techniques

Have you heard about Tuina? Tuina loosely translates to “push grab,” and it is an ancient form of bodywork that is still practiced today in China. Now it is rising in popularity in the United States & Europe. I was introduced to tuina when I began studying at integrative medicine many years ago, at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. I took courses on Tuina and even completed a thorough internship focused on tuina therapy. When I combine tuina with cupping, guasha and medical Qi gong, the pain experienced by clients seems to melt away. Tuina is a wonderful treatment for people who have a fear of acupuncture. 

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Tuina has specific techniques such as:

  • Yizhichan Tui – working with one thumb
  • Na – grasping 
  • An – pressing with the finger or palm
  • Mo – rubbing with the palm
  • Rou – kneading 
  • DiAn – acupressure with the knuckles
  • Gun – rolling 
  • Zhen – vibration
  • Cuo – foulage (twisting)
  • Mo – wiping
  • Tina – lifting and grasping
  • AnRou – pressing or kneading
  • Boyun – kneading with the forearm
  • Ji – striking 
  • Pai – patting
  • Dou – shaking
  • Yao – rotating 
  • Ban – pulling/ stretching joints
  • Bashen – pulling and extending for traction

This list of techniques was sourced from Dr. Xiangcai Xu’s book “Chinese Tui Na Massage: The Essential Guide to Treating Injuries, Improving Health and Balancing Qi”. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Tuina has helped me in my own recovery, too. I was experiencing a lot of pain in my hip, lower back and neck since a hip & shoulder injury I endured a few years ago. I’ve received treatments of all sorts, but mostly Tuina & Acupuncture. Combined and with self applied techniques I’ve learned, my body is pain free and more flexible. 

Chinese massage therapy (referred to as tuina) is commonly defined as the ancient healing art of fingers and strength [24]. Tuina has been practiced in China for over 5000 years [25]. It is a well-respected treatment modality known to be helpful and safe for a wide range of conditions. For these reasons, it is rapidly gaining international favor [26]. Tuina involves a wide range of technical manipulations conducted by a practitioner’s finger, hand, elbow, knee, or foot applied to muscle or soft tissue at specific body locations. It incorporates many of the principles of acupuncture including the use of acupoints. For instance, tuina often uses manual techniques such as pushing, rubbing, kneading, or high-intensity, high-frequency patting to clear energy blocks along specific meridians associated with particular conditions —http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4228121/

Check out that research article above to learn more about how research is being conducted on Tuina’s effect on lower back pain. It looks like very promising data will manifest. I’ve seen wonderful transformations of patient’s posture and health. I personally think all you need is a single treatment to become a fan of Tuina. 

If you’re in Austin, Texas, feel free to book an appointment. If you’re far away, we can do a call and I can show you how to treat yourself with acupressure and tuina! I think you’ll really enjoy this amazing technique of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

What are some of my techniques?

What are some of my techniques?

TUI NA

Tui na  is an ancient technique defined by strong and precise pressuring & manipulation of specific tissues and points, which regulate the harmonious flow of qi in every body.  Combining knowledge of modern anatomy with Traditional Chinese Medicine, careful stimulation of specific acupuncture meridians are assessed and focused upon throughout the treatment. The entire body typically achieves complete relaxation, as the individuated treatment relieves aches, soothes nerves, and promotes detoxification in the brain, heart, spleen, lungs, kidneys and liver.  It provides great relief to overworked muscles and sore joints.

GUA SHA

Gua Sha is a powerful technique for releasing wind-bi from the muscles, purging inflammation and moving stagnant qi from sore spots like the shoulders and neck. The muscles in our body can build up and retain inflammatory substances that perpetuate chronic irritation. Gua Sha breaks apart the densely knotted muscular tissue and vents the blood, promoting relief while dispersing excessive body heat. Oil and a metal / horn tool are used to dredge the microfibers of muscle, which provoke a colorful response from the skin. The marks typically remain for no longer than one month.

CUPPING

Cupping uses glass or plastic cups to create vacuums on the flesh. This pressure helps draw out stagnant blood from muscles, which can build up due to tension and poor posture. Regulating the flow of blood and qi through cupping can improve energy, motivate circulation and reduce pain. The result often looks like a crimson moon has been stamped onto the skin. Marks typically disappear within one month or sooner.

Enkephalin, the Acupuncturist’s Opioid

Have you ever heard of an endogenous opioid peptide? It certainly is a mouthful. I had no clue what it was until I was first introduced to the term Enkephalin in an anatomy audiobook from Audible. The lecturer was listing off advances in peptide research. Then I read about enkephalin in Kiiko Matsumoto & Steven Birch’s book Reflections on the Sea. They mentioned that notable studies were correlating an increase of enkephalin with patients receiving acupuncture treatments. I found this to be so fascinating that I wanted to know more distinctly what enkephalin looks like and how it operates.

A few facts about enkephalin / endogenous opioids:

  • It is a pentapeptide. This means it has five amino acids (Tyr, Gly, Gly, Phe, Met).
  • It is an opioid peptide. These are short chains of amino acids that bind to opioid receptors in the brain. The activation of these receptors inspire the similar responses as an opiate like morphine would.
  • “Brain opioid peptide systems are known to play an important role in motivation, emotion, attachment behaviour, the response to stress and pain, and the control of food intake.”—Wiki
  • Its “brother & sister” peptides are endorphins and dynorphins. Pain and our mood do seem to wax and wane together, don’t they?

Picture of enkephalin structure below

Biochemistry has done a great job of exploring the mechanisms of these endogenous peptides, but I wondered more about how acupuncture could elicit or provoke the release of enkephalin. I scavenged research such as the following articles / books:

Acupuncture Therapy for Neurological Diseases: A Neurobiological View 

This book compiled many different research experiments and compared the literature & statistics. It seemed like the actual points, depth of insertion and intensity of manipulation were not scrutinized exceptionally. They had methodologies that compared chemical profiles of animals, before & after acupuncture. I found the following excerpt to be very informative:

“It has been well documented that opioid receptors play a crucial role in many of the effects induced by manual acupuncture/ EA. The simplest and strongest evidence is that many of the acupuncture effects can be eliminated or attenuated by the opioid receptor antagonists.” — Xie et al. 1985, 1989; Zhao et al. 2002; Tian et al. 2008a, 2008b.

Substances like Naloxone are opioid receptor antagonists. This substance blocks the effects of opioids by shielding or de-activating the receptor. Naloxone is widely used as a remedy for opioid overdosing, and is being sold over the counter in many states now to combat the drug epidemic in America.

Check out the similarities between Enkephalin and Morphine

Morphine itself also comes from older medicinal traditions, namely Herbalism. The herb Ying Su Ke (Poppy husk) has been used within the Chinese herbal pharmacopeia for a long time. The actual opium war was not due to Ying su Ke, but rather British imports and imperialist trading habits that inundated China with strong opium (though it was nothing compared to modern pharmaceutic productions). That caused all sorts of trouble, and I wager we’re seeing history repeat itself presently in the context of America’s opioid crisis. Acupuncture could be the key to positive change in the healthcare of our country, by circumventing the need for chemicals to relieve patients of their suffering.

Acupuncture is widely used in drug detoxification and for suppression of symptoms of addiction. Associations like NADA—National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, certify healthcare providers of all realms to perform an auricular protocol that was developed for meth and heroin addicts. It might be anticipated that the activation and proliferation of endogenous opioids helps to level out the body’s cravings for chemical stimuli. I am starting to see how acupuncture can be good for both pain relief, as well as reducing stress of those recovering from addiction and withdrawal.

Unfortunately, it seems if a person is taking Naloxone while receiving acupuncture, the pain relief effects are greatly diminished. Enkephalin relies on the availability of opioid receptors, though one might wonder if the body still accumulates the peptides, and if they can be absorbed after Naloxone is excreted. The following research on mice could help explain:

Electroacupuncture in awake mice produced analgesia to noxious heat stimuli causing a 54% increase in latency to squeak. Subcutaneous naloxone completely abolished this acupuncture analgesia implicating endorphin. Naloxone injections in control mice caused a 17% hyperalgesia suggesting that “normal” mice also release endorphin. These results imply that endorphin is released at a low basal rate in “normal” mice, and at a much higher rate during acupuncture.

Naloxone blockade of acupuncture analgesia: Endorphin implicated
Bruce Pomeranz, Daryl Chiu

There is a ton of research regarding this subject, and it is very promising to see biochemistry helping to bridge the gap of efficacy and understanding within the realm of Acupuncture. And, in spite of Naloxone, I believe there are many other vectors and mechanisms of acupuncture that can relieve pain and improve bodily function (check out this article to learn more about that). So, even those with Naloxone prescriptions could find it beneficial to some degree, especially if they are seeking to diminish all chemical consumption.

Enkephalin is definitely a key player in understanding acupuncture and, really, the way pain works in response to stress and other deleterious effects of living on this planet. I will continue to explore how peptides, neurotransmitters and other chemicals promote amelioration in the body. Stay tuned, and maybe schedule an appointment so we can get some enkephalin brewing in your body!

CAIN Healing Arts

Hello! My name is Jacob Cain McRae, and CAIN Healing Arts is my attempt to inspire self-healing and rejuvenation in the world. I am currently in graduate school for Integrated Medicine, Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. I never imagined pursuing a career in this discipline, as I was an English major who worked primarily administrative jobs. Yet I was called toward healing, because my life was riddled with a lot of trauma, especially from childhood. The older I get, the more distinctly I comprehend how these issues are knotted together, and by working with them holistically, a greater transformation of the body, mind and soul can occur.

I offer bodywork therapies and methods that helped me heal from both physical and spiritual injury, including: Tui na (Chinese Medical Massage), Cupping, Gua Sha (Scraping), Medical Qi Gong, Reiki, and Chakra Flow Yoga. My passion lies with herbs, and I seek to help people understand how to use them safely. Please enjoy my blog!

Stay tuned for more posts about healing, from a perspective that bridges the mystic with the scientific. Also if you’re in the Austin area and you’re looking for a healer, buy some time by visiting my booking site. I’ll gladly do a phone consultation or e-mail, as well, so feel free to contact me! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyday Medicine: Chocolate

Everyday medicines are things we use on a daily basis to help our bodies manage stress and recover from day to day wear and tear. Diseases have been treated for eons through nutrition, so they are also often born from nutritional deficiencies. One sort of deficiency could be anemia. Anemia has many different forms, from macrocytic to microcytic, and it is typically defined by iron deficiency or absorption issues. Iron is a very important mineral that helps maintain oxygen levels in the blood, which nourishes the distal tissues. When there isn’t enough oxygen to support cellular function, hypoxia tends to manifest. The lack of oxygen can be the underlying reason for pain, fatigue, even disease.

An “everyday medicine” that could help with these issues is dark chocolate! Dark chocolate is very high in iron, as well as xanthines. These nutrients can help the body build better, denser blood, and increase energy by stimulating neurotransmitter behaviors (xanthines include chemicals like caffeine). Additionally, those dark chocolates which are processed minimally are high in fiber. This can help the body to purge accumulations in the GI tract, thus improving the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Feeling fatigued? Bite into a bar of chocolate! I recommend taking chocolate around 12PM, the time when the heart’s energy is . The bitter flavor of dark chocolate can help to clear out heat, while tonifying the “yin” of the heart blood. The heaviness of the iron can be very sedative to the mind, and even help with anxiety. This is a reason why chocolate is so coveted by emotional persons.

What is Tui Na?

Tui na is an ancient form of medicine that we all perform, to some extent. When you get a headache and rub your temple, you are performing tui na. You might not know which acupuncture points you are activating, but you are definitely utilizing the local and superficial energetics of your body in order to inspire relief at a biochemical and structural level. Your body is instinctually programmed to self-heal and rejuvenate!

Tui na is similar to massage, but has a greater tradition and assortment of techniques. It uses a lot of theory and methodology derivative from Tradition Chinese Medicine. Meridian theory is something I use a whole lot in my Tui na practice. Meridian theory exposes the trajectories of qi, the body’s life force energy that can be subdivided according to its relationship to yin & yang, as well as each individual organ in the body. Think of it this way: there are many rivers and wires in your body that work together, and when they become blocked, tangled or withered: pain and disorder result.

For example, the stomach meridian begins beneath the eye, centered with the pupil, then descends along the nasal cavities. It is often implicated in nasal allergies, as the stomach mucosa is prone to inflammation (think: crohn’s / gluten intolerance). This can manifest as what modernity refers to as allergies, with swelling and fluid accumulation in the body. When treating such an issue, I might go toward the calf to a point called Zusanli or ST-36. The stomach meridian descends through the anterior body all the way down the leg into the second toe. By utilizing these lower points, we can positively affect the flow of qi which may have coagulated in the upper channels of the body.

Combined with herbal medicine to address deficiencies and excesses, these therapies can lead toward a complete elimination of allergies! Next time you have allergies, try rubbing the tender points along the zygomatic bone, and the muscles of the front calf. A great way to promote self-healing.

Schedule a session