From the category archives:


Acupuncture better than surgery?

by Ed

Drug companies and other companies that have something to gain, are good at twisting research to make you believe what they want you to believe. If they can do it, so can I!

First a study on acupuncture from 2004. It was a very large and rigorous study that showed acupuncture is effective in treating osteoarthritis of the knee. The acupuncture group had 40% less pain and nearly 40% better function than either the sham acupuncture (placebo) group or the control group.

“For the first time, a clinical trial with sufficient rigor, size, and duration has shown that acupuncture reduces the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee,” said Stephen E. Straus, M.D., NCCAM Director. “These results also indicate that acupuncture can serve as an effective addition to a standard regimen of care and improve quality of life for knee osteoarthritis sufferers. NCCAM has been building a portfolio of basic and clinical research that is now revealing the power and promise of applying stringent research methods to ancient practices like acupuncture.”

Next a study shows that orthoscopic surgery is no better than placebo in treating osteoarthritis of the knee. So, you see acupuncture is better than surgery for pain.

Disclaimer: In the interests of honesty and integrity, my last statement was obviously a huge leap. And orthopedic experts find fault with the study on knee surgery. They say most of the patients chosen would not have been good candidates fo the study any way.

So, assuming the “experts” are right, what do we learn here? Well obviously, acupuncture is effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain. What I find interesting though, is that the placebo effect is so powerful. Why aren’t they studying that? Everyone in healing professions, including surgeons, should be learning how to enhance the placebo effect. Mostly, science is trying to discount it. Apparently it is the most potent healer.

Stop fighting it

by Ed

One thing I have learned, especially with pain, but also other symptoms, is to not fight the symptom. If you are experiencing pain, tensing up against it, does not help, it only makes it worse. If you can completely allow the pain, accept it with your whole being, not only will you feel better, but you may have a breakthrough in your healing.

There are several things you can try, to allow the symptom in.

  • Close your eyes and bring your awareness to the area that has pain or another symptom. As you breathe in imagine the breath going to that area. As you breathe out allow that area to soften. On the inhale you can also try breathing in light or warmth.

  • Imagine that your resistance is a fist held tightly around the symptom. Feel the fist and slowly let go. This can be combined with the previous point.

  • Just explore the sensations. When you get curious about pain, it’s quality changes dramatically.

  • Practice surrender. I am not sure how else to put it, but sometimes, when in intense pain, I just keep surrendering to it.

I have a food allergy, and one of my reactions is that my esophagus goes into spasm. It is incredibly painful and I can’t swallow for about half an hour. I have never felt pain as bad as that. One time when that happened I practice surrender and exploring the sensations, together. It was an almost ecstatic experience. The pain went away very quickly, but I almost wished it didn’t because I was enjoying it so much. I have never had that pain, so intensely, since that experience.

Book Review: Pain Free

by Ed

I became interested in Pete Egoscue’s work when a number of people I knew started benefiting from therapists trained by him. When I started reading his book, Pain Free, I realized he came from the same assumption that I come from, in treating pain. If the body’s structure is out of alignment, eventually there will be pain. If you correct the structure, the pain and related symptoms will go away, in most cases. The Egoscue method treats structural imbalances through exercise therapy.

After three chapters explaining how and why his method works, he goes through the body, in detail, from foot to head. He gives a set of exercises, he calls them menus, for pain in each area. I think that “recipe” is a better word than menu. You do not pick and choose your exercises, and it is important to do them in the correct order. Each exercise builds on the previous one, and you get faster results if the hips are aligned first. The pelvis is the foundation of the body, and it is usually at the center of the problem, wherever the symptoms might be. Once the pelvis is aligned, other parts of the body fall back into place.

“The Egoscue Method is unique in recognizing that therapy programs succeed only when they treat the body as a closely integrated unit.” That may be true in exercise therapy, but Chinese Medicine also agrees with that statement. Often I have seen physical therapy fail for that very reason. There is too much emphasis on the site of pain with out taking into consideration all of the underlying factors.

Pain Free is a very readable and very practical book. Most people who read it and do the exercises get great results. If you buy it and it does not work for you, don’t throw out the Egoscue Method. A book can not see all of your dysfunctions. Pete has treated thousands of people, so he knows the most likely scenarios for any given symptom, but you are unique. I have known many people to benefit from doing the exercises in the book, and I have known some people who needed more individualized treatment. The book is cheaper, so try it out first. It is also an enjoyable and educational read.

Anthony Robbins said, “This book is extraordinary, and I am thrilled to recommend it to anyone who’s interested in dramatically increasing the quality of their physical health.”

Deepak Chopra said, “Pain Free is based on a very sound understanding of human physiology. It shows how we can break the circuit of pain and naturally heal one of the most significant disabilities of our time.”

In Canada, you can buy Pain Free: a Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain here.

In the USA you can buy Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain here.

First Aid Kit

by Ed

Carrying on from my last post, today I’ll talk about Chinese remedies that are good for first aid.

For burns, nothing beats Ching Wan Hung. It is an ointment about the consistency of skin cream. I am amazed by how well it works. If you can’t find it aloe vera is next best. Keep a plant around, and when you burn yourself, just cut off a leaf and squeeze the juice out of it onto the burn. Warning, home remedies are good for first degree and mild second degree burns. If you have severe blistering or any charred skin, please see your doctor.
For bumps, bruises, and sprains, there are a number of ointments. Traditionally in China the martial artists also knew enough about medicine to treat themselves for their injuries, as well as toughening their skin and bones to make it harder to injure them. This branch of medicine is called Hit Medicine.

Dit Da Jow is the most common name for ointments for sprains, etc. There are many brands. Most of the commercial ones are ok to pretty good. If you want really good quality, find a martial artist that makes his own, preferably from an old family recipe.

Zheng Gu Shui is very similar. Originally it was of very good quality. It was designed specifically to speed healing of broken bones. About ten years ago they changed the recipe, and now it is not as good as it was. If you can’t find a good quality dit da jiao, this is a reasonable replacement.

White Flower Oil is good for insect stings and bites. It is also a pretty good analgesic. Rub it on a painful area and it will ease the pain. Great for headaches, but don’t get too close to the eyes. The volatile oils in it can sting them.

Yunnan Paiyao is probably the most important thing to put in your first aid kit. It stops bleeding and greatly speeds healing of injuries. It can be used topically on bruises and cuts, as well as internally to reduce inflammation and speed the healing of all injuries. Some women with painful periods say it relieves the pain. Taking it before surgery improves recovery time significantly. Taken internally, it can also help with altitude sickness. If you are going mountain climbing, start taking it about a week before your trip.

Pain Relief Visualization

by Ed

Here is a simple visualization for relieving pain.This technique can heal underlying problems, however, it may just relieve the pain, without affecting the cause of pain. Therefore, just as with pain medications, be sure you know the cause of the pain. Pain is a warning that something is wrong. If you just get rid of the pain you could end up a lot worse off.

That said, for pain relief, try this visualization:

First get into a very comfortable position. Become aware of your breath. Just notice the movement of your breath, in and out, for a minute or so. Then move your awareness to the site of pain in your body. Just notice it; its size and shape, its qualities. Then imagine, if you could see it, what it would look like. What color is it? Is it a red ball, a black, amorphous blob, a greenish pointy thing? Visualize it as vividly as you can, and get very familiar with it.

Next, find a pathway out of your body for it. For instance, if it is in your shoulder, it could move to your elbow, wrist, finger, then out. Or if it is in your stomach, it could move to your pelvis, then down one leg to the knee, ankle, toe, and out.

Now that it is outside of your body, look around for some place where it it my stay. For instance, if it is a red ball, and you can see a traffic light, send it there. If it is an amorphous blob, send it to the corner of a room, where the dust collects.

Now that the pain is outside of your body, it should not bother you so much. Enjoy!