From the category archives:

stress

Pain in the Lower Rib Cage

by Ed

Many people get aches and pains or a feeling of fullness in the lower rib cage. Often they have no obvious organic cause and Western Medicine does not treat them. Even more often the symptoms are so vague that people don’t bother to tell their doctors about it.

Traditional Chinese Medicine recognises several conditions that could produce those symptoms. In fact they are often early warning signs which, if treated, can save a person from developing a more severe condition. If you have an intense pain that is localized on one side of the rib cage, you should see a doctor about it. If you have more vague pain on both sides of the rib cage, then try the tips at the end of this post or see your acupuncturist.

In Chinese Medicine, when we talk about the internal organs we are talking about more than the anatomical/ physiological organs as Western Medicine understands them. We are talking about their energetic functions along the entire course of the meridian they are associated with. Each organ is also associated with an emotion or complex of emotions, a body tissue, and a sense organ. The liver is associated with the lower rib cage. It is also associated with anger, frustration, stress, and suppression of emotions. It has to do with the free flowing quality in everything in our lives. Vague pain in the lower rib cage usually is a result of the liver energy becoming stagnant. This frequently leads to indigestion and gassiness as well.

I have three favorite ways of returning the liver to its natural free flowing state:

  • The Inner Smile I have described this one in an earlier post, here.

  • The Seven Shakes This is a good one to do in groups. If you are in a meeting or teaching a class and everyone is losing focus and looking sleepy get them up and do the seven shakes. Stand up and shake your right arm seven times, counting out loud. Then shake your left arm, right leg, and left leg seven times each. Then shake them 6 times, 5 times, etc., down to one time. Finish by jumping into a karate stance, or any stance you like and shout Ha!

  • Qi Gong: Liver Healing Sound Stand with your feet about shoulder width and parallel. As you inhale raise your hands into the air as if you were embracing th sky. Holding your breath, bring your arms down until the elbows are pressing your ribs cage and your palms are facing your face. Close your hands into fists and lean over as if you were skiing and exhale with the sound shhh. Repeat three to seven times.

Doing each of these exercises every day will certainly lower your stress and increase your energy. If your rib cage pain is due to simple liver energy congestion, it should relieve that as well. Have fun and keep moving.

Update: I am no longer accepting comments on this post. It is not reasonable for me to try to guess what your particular problem might be.

The Five Keys to Optimal Health

by Ed

Key #1 Nutrition

After spending billions of dollars, over the past thirty years, the American Cancer Society has begun to realize that searching for a cure may not be the answer. Now they are focusing more on prevention. And what is the best way to prevent cancer? Fruits and vegetables.

There has been a lot of controversy lately over the best diet: High protein? High carbohydrate? paleolithic? Mediterranean?

But one thing the experts agree on is that we need more fruits and vegetables in our diet. Dr. Bruce Ames, a leading cancer scientist has said that if you aren’t eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables, you might as well be standing in front of a low level X-ray machine, all day.

You may have seen the American Cancer Society’s ad campaign: “5 A DAY”. Actually, they recommend 9 servings a day of fresh fruits and vegetables, but they think five a day is easier to sell to
the American public.

The Framingham study looked at Stroke risks. They found a direct correlation between 3 servings a day and a 22% reduction in strokes. 6 servings a day; 44% reduction in stroke. 9 servings a day, 66% reduction in stroke. Now that’s pretty remarkable.

Let’s face it, most of us are not big fruit and vegetable eaters. But we should be. Fruits and vegetables are full of disease preventing phytochemicals, including the now famous antioxidants. We have
discovered hundreds, so far, but there are still many we don’t know about. And that’s one reason that taking vitamins is not the answer for a poor diet. I could go on for pages about other reasons. If you want more information on the research, let me know and I will send it to you.

Key #2: ExerciseEveryone knows we need more exercise. So, what’s your excuse?
Not enough time? Not enough energy? too boring?

In fact, once you get on a simple exercise program you create a spiral of success. More time, more energy, more joy in every area of your life

So how to start? Well, you need at least a little energy to get started. It may be that you need to improve your nutrition to get that energy. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less fat, especially saturated
and trans fat.

Ok, back to exercise: You should aim for an hour of exercise, almost every day. However, you can break it up into 6 ten minute chunks, throughout the day. During coffee break take a ten minute walk or
climb ten flights of stairs.

Buy one of those six foot rubber bands designed for exercising. They are great for mini work outs. Buy several. Keep one in your desk, one in the car and one or more at home. Buy a brand that comes with a video so you can learn the exercises. Then buy some cheaper ones for different places. Any time you have five to ten minutes pull it out. Learn a few different short routines and alternate them. One for strengthening the arms and upper back, one for the abs and lower back, and one for the legs. Plus one or two good stretching routines.

Once you start feeling healthier, you can sleep thirty minutes less and use that extra thirty minutes for a good aerobic workout, three days a week. On the other four days, you can meditate or read a good book
or enjoy a sunrise.

Obesity is becoming an American epidemic. One that leads to hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. The only healthy way to maintain a healthy weight is sensible eating and exercise.

Exercise improves our mood, our immune system, our stamina, our bone mass, and our ability to assimilate the nutrients from our food. So get up and have some fun.

Play with your kids.
Join a team.
Walk your dog.
Have fun!

Key #3 OxygenAre you breathing? Many people seem to barely breathe when under stress, sitting at a computer, and other times. Some people seem to barely breathe, all the time. Abundant oxygen is vital to our wellbeing. It is even more important today, than it was 30 years ago. Besides all of the toxins in our water, food and air, and our stress levels, all of which require more oxygen to healthfully process, we have a lot less oxygen in the air we breathe. You have heard about greenhouse gases and global warming, by now. Did you ever stop to think what all those greenhouse gases are replacing? Oxygen. Oxygen levels are getting dangerously low, about three percent lower than they were a few decades ago. Levels are within a couple of percent of being unable to sustain our lives, especially in cities with high smog levels.

We need to be breathing more deeply just to maintain normal levels of oxygen, let alone levels necessary to help us combat pollution and stress. Get more aerobic exercise and take several deep breathing breaks, throughout your day.
Key #4 CleansingIn the 21st Century it is impossible to escape toxicity. Our air, food
and water are all polluted. Not to mention all of the toxic ingredients
they put in our personal care products and packaged foods.
Regular internal cleansing has become essential to maintain good
health.

The two main areas that require cleansing are the digestive tract
and the Liver/ Gall Bladder. For most people, I recommend an
intestinal cleanse and a Liver cleanse, as well as a Gall Bladder
flush, every Spring. Many people with allergies, for instance, find
that a regular Spring cleaning brings a lot of relief, through out the
year.

Because cleansing can release toxins into the body, it is important
to be careful. I always recommend a gentle cleansing. Eating lightly
with an even greater emphasis on fruits and vegetables
(I suggest 5 servings of each during non cleansing times),
is always a great way to reduce our toxic burden and begin a
cleanse.

It’s important to cleanse your digestive tract gently so as not to shock your system or release excess toxins into the body. An herbal fiber supplement makes a great colon cleanse because herbal fiber can work slowly to thoroughly sweep the colon clear of impacted waste and toxins without disrupting daily life. When combined with herbs to soothe and stimulate the digestive tract, a fiber supplement can make a great spring cleanse. 

Click here to see my other posts on cleansing.

Key #5 State of mindCheck out my many posts on the importance of our state of mind, particularly this one. Positive states of mind keep our immune systems robust, and help us ward of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. A positive state of mind makes it easier to maintain the other four keys. See this post for tips on staying happy.

Stress: Good for Cancer Cells, Bad for Us

by Ed

A recent study published here, suggests that the stress hormone, epinephrine, may cause changes in prostate and breast cancer cells that makes them more resistant to cell death.

Stress reduction will not only improve your chances of recovering from cancer it will probably decrease your chances of getting it in the first place. Exercise, relaxation, and behavioral changes are the most important ways to reduce your stress. I recommend a combination of aerobic and relaxing forms of exercise. By relaxing forms, I mean exercise like hatha yoga and tai chi. Both relaxation and behavioral changes can be achieved by self-hypnosis and certain kinds of meditation.

One high fat meal can ruin your whole day

by Ed

The CBC has run this story on research into the effects of eating a high fat breakfast.

The researchers found that when healthy college students ate a high fat breakfast their blood pressure was higher and their resistance to stress was lower than when they ate a low fat breakfast with the same number of calories and amount of salt. Even one of the authors of the study was surprised by the difference. She said it would change her eating habits.

Just one more reason to eat more plants.

Tapping Into Health

by Ed

For thousands of years, people in the orient have been tapping acupuncture points to relieve headaches, improve their immune systems,and treat a variety of health complaints. In the past thirty years or so, several Western energy therapies have been developed, based on the acupuncture system. Many of these therapies also use tapping on the points for healing.

One of those methods, EFT, is great for dealing with post traumatic stress, allergies, phobias, and many stress related symptoms. You can learn the self-help basics of EFT here. If you are interested in EFT and find that you need more than self-help, contact me. I am happy to provide consultations, by phone or email. See my About page for my email address.

Beating Heaven’s Drum is a traditional technique for relieving headaches, dizziness, and waking up the brain. Cover your ears with your palms and tap the muscles at the base of the skull. Tap gently for about one minute.

Knocking at the Gate of Life is another traditional Chinese technique. The gate of life is the area where, according to Chinese Medicine, our basic vital energy is stored. Tapping the points associated with it helps to increase the flow of energy and gives a feeling of vitality. There are two points. The first one is about two inches below the navel and the other is on the spine, directly opposite the navel.
Stand with your feet a little wider than the width of your shoulders and place one fist just below the other and the other on your back opposite your navel. Then begin to turn your body, at the waist from side to side. As you turn, let your arms swing around. As you turn left your left hand should tap your back and your right hand should tap your belly. As you turn right your right hand should tap your back and your left hand should tap your belly. The arms should be very relaxed. Let the turning of the waist swing them around, without using any arm strength to tap your body. Do this exercise for a couple of minutes, every day.

Taping to boost the immune system. This is a modern technique, as far as I know. There are three points to tap. The first point is the last point on the Kidney channel. The Kidney channel is also associated with the Gate of Life. The point is just under the collar bone, in the depression just outside of where the collar bone meets the breast bone. The second point is on the breast bone, about two inches below the top. The thymus gland, an important immune system organ, is directly below this point. The last point is near the bottom of the rib cage. It is about level with the bottom of the little bone that sticks down from the bottom of the breast bone and about three inches from the midline. You will notice a little dip in the rib cage in that area. Tap between the ribs. These points stimulate the Spleen and the Liver, both of which influence the Immune system.

Tap each point, in order, about twelve times. The first and last points can be tapped on both sides at the same time. Breathe slowly and deeply while tapping the points. You can do this once or twice a day.