Eastern Outlook

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EASTERN OUTLOOK

WHY DO I GET MIGRAINES?

I get migraines once a month; the pain is unbearable. Can TCM help?

Headaches present a major challenge for TCM practitioners. Six major meridians run through the head. One meridian alone or in combination with the other five can cause a headache. That makes 720 different kinds of headaches, which explains why certain medications may work for you but not your friend -- you each have a different headache. Headache pain in the back of the head is usually related to bladder energy; pain in the forehead relates to stomach energy. Out-of-balance kidney and/or liver energies are the source of headaches that throb at the top of the head.

Provided that your migraines aren't due to a serious physical condition, such as a tumor or cancer, there's an excellent chance TCM can help. Treatment depends on gender, frequency, hour of occurrence and location. Migraines that occur around menstruation aren't seen as a headache problem, but as a liver problem. But with proper diagnosis, acupuncture and herb treatments, TCM can fix this kind of migraine.

STAND & DELIVER

I'm on my feet all day and they hurt! Can TCM make my feet stronger and stop the discomfort?

It sounds like you're standing far too long without giving your body a chance to recuperate. According to TCM, standing puts an excessive energy demand on the bones, which draws off vital energy from the kidneys for support, creating a deficiency.

Vary your routine during the day and take extra care of yourself at night. Each night soak your feet in hot water for at least 10 minutes and then massage them for 10 minutes to improve circulation.

Eating bone marrow soup can also help. TCM believes "like organs" carry "like energy," and you can boost your bone energy this way. Remember, six meridians begin or end in the feet, so they should be treated carefully to protect long-term health.

OUCH! MY MOUTH!

I'm getting canker sores in my mouth. What does this mean? Can TCM treat it?

Canker sores in the mouth indicate that your body has an excess of internal heat. From a TCM standpoint, you have a Yin energy deficiency. TCM seeks to harmonize Yin and Yang energies within the body; when one or both are unbalanced, various health problems appear. A TCM doctor will prescribe certain herbs to reduce the heat. Watermelon's energy is also recognized as a heat reducer. One way to help your condition is to eat as much watermelon (or drink the juice) as possible. In addition, avoid spicy foods since these can aggravate the body's inner heat condition.

A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE HERBS

Which herbs are most used in TCM?

Literally thousands of natural herbal formulas are available to the skilled TCM doctor. One of the most widely used herbs is Chinese licorice (Gan Cao) -- not to be confused with the licorice Americans eat as candy. Chinese licorice is classified as a "harmony" herb because of its ability to harmonize all the herbs within a formula so they work together.

Dong quai is good for building up blood. Ginseng is good for building up vital energy or qi (chee). Very popular now with Americans -- it's the top herb for building up qi -- ginseng has a dark side. It can be addictive, and it's best to avoid it when you have a cold, cough or fever since the herb can actually drive these conditions deeper into the body, causing problems that are much more difficult to treat. I don't recommend this herb for anyone under 40.

Natural Way Publications, Inc.

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By Nan Lu

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