Dark Chocolate: A Tonic for Qi & Blood

When a patient has symptoms of a pale tongue, low energy, pallor, fatigue and muscular weakness, I tend to suspect a deficiency of qi and blood. My favorite food-medicine for less severe qi & blood deficiencies is dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is high in iron, fats, fiber and xanthines like caffeine and theobromine. High quality dark chocolates with 70%+ cocoa solids are ideal. This percentage guarantees that you’ll get a significant amount of dense mineral nutrition. I believe that the iron and fats of dark chocolate are good for building blood, while the xanthines help to move blood and increase energy. The fiber itself is good for the  regulating the intestinal system, improving bowel movements and any stasis in the middle jiao. When the intestines are clean, there are less toxins proliferating in the colon. This reduces autoimmune activity, improving energy reserves.

A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains (1):

  • 11 grams of fiber.
  • 67% of the RDA for Iron.
  • 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
  • 89% of the RDA for Copper.
  • 98% of the RDA for Manganese.
  • It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.

—https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate/

Qi relates to the fundamental energy we are born with and the caloric energy that we generate as we consume & metabolize food, as well as the oxygen we breathe. Blood is the fluid of the heart, and is responsible for nourishing & moistening the muscles, tendons and other body tissues. There is a saying that “blood is the mother of qi.” This could be likened to the fact that blood relies on iron, which is needed for oxygen transfer throughout the body. Symptoms of hypoxia can arise in anemic persons, as the lack of iron could inhibit qi from reaching the distal extremities. Qi moves blood, so if there is a lack of one, it feeds into the pathos of the other.

Iron helps red blood cells deliver oxygen from the lungs to cells all over the body. Once the oxygen is delivered, iron then helps red blood cells carry carbon dioxide waste back to the lungs to be exhaled. Iron also plays a role in many important chemical reactions in the body.

—http://www.medicinenet.com/iron-page2/supplements-vitamins.htm

If blood isn’t moving, then that means the erythrocytes (red blood cells) are sitting around with lots of carbon dioxide… Perhaps this leads to inflammation, pain and autoimmune reactions in tissues, from muscles to bones. I believe Qi gong, tuina, reiki, acupuncture and herbal therapies could really benefit the person who is fatigued due to blood disorders like this. The vibrational, energetic and manual therapies can help to move the blood, and the herbal and nutritional therapies could restore the person’s qi and blood.

Cacao beans (an herb nonetheless).

So, choose any dark chocolate you like, and let your blood cells rejoice.

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.