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It’s quite ironic how it’s illegal to sell drugs on the street corner, but yet completely legal to do so via the mass media. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to escape these annoying pharmaceutical adverts on the tele which invade your home, what seems like every 5 minutes. Ten seconds is devoted to the name of the drug and what it’s designed for, while the remaining 20 seconds is focused on the never ending list of side-effects; which are often worse than the condition the drug is supposed to treat. Not only are these commercials for drugs annoying and unethical, but they prey on the ignorance and fear of people who can easily identify with the set of extremely generalized signs and symptoms that they describe.
Yes, I get very irritated with these mass campaigns that mislead the public into thinking they have some condition, when in fact they don’t. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical companies are now in the business of creating diseases and conditions, so they can sell billions of dollars more of unsafe and unnecessary drugs. This Low Testosterone or Low – T as they have so poignantly coined it, is exactly this - a fictional condition which pharmaceutical companies have created and marketed to a large targeted segment of the population.
What exactly is Low Testosterone?
Low testosterone is NOT a disease / syndrome or condition of any sort. In fact, from both a Western and Eastern medicine perspective adults, after they pass the 40 year mark, loose up to 40% of their Yin (which translates into sexual hormones). This is a biological fact of life for both men and women that occurs just as naturally as the sun rising in the morning and setting at dusk. In women, there is a drastic decrease in estrogen, which is a natural part of the cyclic transformation between menstruation -- to -- menopause -- to -- post-menopause. The same is true in men, who are also tied into a reproductive cycle involving hormones. For men, their levels of testosterone decrease significantly. What we’re seeing with this Low – T campaign is just some ad executive’s idea to make billions of dollars on an untapped market. We’ve already experienced this same targeted marketing on the women’s side with the mass marketing of estrogen products for the fictional disease of hormone deficiency; now they’re targeting the men.
Unlike Western medicine that likes to generalize symptoms across the board, an Eastern practitioner will tell you that this natural declination in hormones (Yin) will occur to varying degrees in both males and females, and the effects will also be diverse, because the health of each individual is different. How much this decrease of hormones really affects an individual depends more on how balanced or imbalanced other systems are within the patient’s body. It's these imbalances which can create such generalized symptoms that can be contorted into a new disease, which of course the pharmaceutical companies have a drug.
Like most drugs on the market, there are no long – term studies. You are the guinea pig!
I can only hope that patients be diligent about their health, and realize that the “magic pill” scenario is not a healthy or wise choice. You have to take control of your health, which in the majority of cases means making healthy lifestyle changes that will bring a balanced wellness back into your life. These lifestyle changes should include reducing stress, maintaining a healthy diet, both physical and mental exercise, and doing things that make you happy. If you do have any health concerns, especially male or female reproductive issues, or endocrine concerns, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a licensed Eastern physician.
Back pain is one of the most common complaints heard by doctors. In the U.S alone, millions of people suffer from this often debilitating and quality of life altering disorder; which can make the simplest of daily tasks impossible to do. Unfortunately, when you see a Western doctor there isn’t much they can do to alleviate the pain and discomfort. More often than not, their solution is just a temporary fix which involves pain killers; which DO NOT resolve the problem, and tend to create more health issues from serious side - effects and addiction. On the extreme side you have more invasive treatments ranging from all types of surgical procedures, including the implantation of electrical devices to interrupt nerve impulses, to steroid injections. Many times these procedures do not work and / or create new problems as well.
It’s really important for patients to explore all the possibilities before submitting oneself to such extreme measures that could put your health at risk in other ways. One of the treatments that should be considered is acupuncture. I say this not because I’m an acupuncturist, but because I have suffered from chronic low - back pain myself; in fact, that was how I was introduced to acupuncture. I was so amazed at the improvement and pain reduction after my first treatment, that this was one of the deciding factors in choosing Eastern medicine as a career path.
From an Eastern perspective, back pain is one of the easier problems to treat, and involves a non-intrusive procedure. Along with acupuncture, other modalities may be applied such as: tui Na, cupping, electro – acupuncture, blood - letting, Chinese herbs, qi – gong or tai – chi, hydrotherapy, or yoga. The treatment for chronic low – back pain usually takes 1 – 3 months depending on each individual case.
Various studies have confirmed the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic low - back pain. Some of these studies focused on particular acupuncture points, while other studies included point prescriptions (several points used together), which were compared to traditional Western treatments. In all the studies it was concluded that acupuncture was a superior treatment in terms of pain reduction, longer lasting results, and effectiveness.
If you have any questions with regard to low - back pain and acupuncture, feel free to send an email or call:
Tel: (309) 764.4753
When you visit an acupuncturist you will notice two distinctive diagnostic features that differ from a Western consultation. An acupuncturist will feel your pulse for a few minutes or sometimes up to 30 minutes, and examine your tongue for about 10 – 15 seconds. You may say, “Wait a minute! Sometimes my doctor will feel my pulse.” This is true, but in Western medicine they’re only checking your heart rate; that is, is it beating too fast (tachycardia), too slow (brachycardia), or is it a normal pulse. In Eastern Medicine, we gather important information from both the tongue and the pulse that helps us with the diagnosis. First, let’s consider the pulse.
What can we tell from a pulse?
In general, the pulse informs us of the state of Qi, blood and fluid physiology/pathology, and gives us an image of the functional state of the internal organs both individually and as a system. In more advanced systems a skilled practitioner can detect childhood illnesses, mitral valve dysfunctions and other cardiovascular events, ulcers, and other various pathologies.
The pulse can also be used as a preventive measure to detect serious disease and illness before it manifests to a greater extent in the body.
Other arbitrary influences on the pulse include, but are not limited to: stress (including emotional disturbances), lack of sleep, medications, negative dietary habits, caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants, and sickness; especially the cold or flu.
How is the pulse felt?
The practitioner palpates the radial artery in 3 different positions on each wrist. Traditionally, on the left wrist, the bottom position represents the heart / small intestine. The middle position is for the liver / gallbladder. The upper position is for the kidney (yang) / bladder. On the right wrist, the bottom position represents the lung / large intestine. The middle position is the spleen / stomach. The upper position represents the kidney (yin), San jiao.
You might notice that the practitioner will press down on these positions, this is because there are 3 different levels to a pulse: superficial (qi level), middle (blood level), and deep (organ level). First, the practitioner will feel all three positions at once to get an overall image, then they will palpate each individual position for a more specific image of each corresponding organ.
Why do you have to look at my tongue?
Tongue examination is another important diagnostic tool in the acupuncturist's arsenal. The reason for this is because the tongue has a direct correlation to the visceral organs. As you can see in the image to the left, different areas of the tongue are representative of those specific organs. When we examine the tongue we're looking at the following attributes: texture, coating, color, shape, and mobility. By looking at these different aspects of the tongue we can determine the state of the Qi, blood, and body fluids. We can also determine the state of an illness and where that illness is located. Both tongue and pulse diagnosis are not meant to be used alone, but rather together along with patient observation, and other diagnostic information that is gathered from the patient interview.