SPRING Is In The Air – The Wood Element

A time of new beginnings; birth. We notice the plants pushing upwards, awakening and refreshed after their winter hibernation. The sun rises earlier and we naturally awaken earlier. There is an energy of activity and fresh new life all around us – the energy of spring. This season correlates with the wood element ; the color green; liver/gall bladder; eyes; tendons; balanced natural state of passion, kindness, ease (imbalanced state being excessive anger, dissatisfaction, frustration, shouting).

We see green all around us – this tender new life nourishes our soul through our eyes. There is less desire to eat, as the body naturally cleanses itself in spring. Cleansing is not only residue from heavy winter foods, but of excess desire and pent up emotions of dissatisfaction, impatience, anger, and accompanying short sightedness. This season may bring clearer vision; new ways of seeing things. We are encouraging quickness, more rapid movement, more outward activity. Think of a deer leaping and bounding (such movement is governed by the quality of the tendons). A vital liver supports a calm, smooth, soothing way of being – body and mind; decisiveness; sound judgment; leadership capability; ability to bring one’s passion – ideas, creativity, projects out into the world.

Wood element and FOOD and food preparation:

This is the season to clean the liver and gall bladder. Simple food preparation, including raw and sprouted foods may be emphasized. A little bit of such foods can bring in the qualities of cleansing without too much cooling and/or overworking digestion in those who are in a delicate or re-cooperative state.

Select foods reflecting the yang, ascending and expansive energy of spring. These include young plants, fresh greens, sprouts (including wheat and other cereal grasses). Minimize intake of salty and heavy foods, particularly animal products.

Create your own inner spring by selecting sweet and pungent foods such as honey/mint tea, pungent herbs – basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill, bay leaf; complex carbohydrates which are primarily ‘sweet’ flavor (increased by sprouting) – grains, legumes, seeds; young beets, carrots, and other sweet starchy vegetables; raw onions and garlic (to rid the body of parasites).

Include raw food as appropriate. When cooking foods, cook at higher temperatures, with shorter cooking time than winter preparation. If oil is to be used, quickly sauté. When cooking with water steam lightly or briefly simmer foods.

What you can do:

Play Six Healing Sounds Qigong – emphasizing balance and harmony of the whole self, with special attention on the “shhhh” of liver.

Give more focus to playing Qigong practices for the eyes. Play t’ai chi with special attention on the tendons; your ability to feel springy like a deer. If you haven’t done the qigong practices in a class, ask me for details.

Though it is getting warmer outside, keep your neck warm (eg. Wear a scarf), and protect yourself from wind, especially after playing qigong/t’ai chi.

Enjoy getting out in nature; stop and ‘smell the roses’.

Explore your creativity and the projects you have been dreaming about; let them out into the world –the world is waiting for you to authentically, fully express yourself.

Tai Chi May Improve Symptoms and Functional Mobility in Fibromyalgia Patients

May 28, 2012 – Previous researchers have found that 10-form Tai chi yields symptomatic benefit in patients with fibromyalgia (FM). The purpose of this study was to further investigate earlier findings and add a focus on functional mobility.

In a study by Oregon Health & Science University, the researchers conducted a parallel-group randomized controlled trial FM-modified 8-form Yang-style Tai chi program compared to an education control. Participants met in small groups twice weekly for 90 minutes over 12 weeks. The primary endpoint was symptom reduction and improvement in self-report physical function, as measured by the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), from baseline to 12 weeks. Secondary endpoints included pain severity and interference, sleep, self-efficacy, and functional mobility.

Of the 101 randomly assigned subjects (mean age 54 years, 93 % female), those in the Tai chi condition compared with the education condition demonstrated clinically and statistically significant improvements in FIQ scores, BPI pain severity, BPI pain interference, sleep, and self-efficacy for pain control. Functional mobility variables including timed get up and go, static balance, and dynamic balance were significantly improved with Tai chi compared with education control. No adverse events were noted.

Twelve weeks of Tai chi, practice twice weekly, provided worthwhile improvement in common FM symptoms including pain and physical function including mobility. Tai chi appears to be a safe and an acceptable exercise modality that may be useful as adjunctive therapy in the management of FM patients.

This study is published by Clinical rheumatology in its latest issue.

Tai Chi Among American College of Rheumatology 2012 Recommendations for the Osteoarthritis Therapies

May 28, 2012 – The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has issued new recommendations for the use of non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic therapies in osteoarthritis of the hand, hip, and knee. Tai Chi is among the list. The recommendations, available in the April 2012 issue of Arthritis Care & Research, update the organizations 2000 recommendations.

To come up with the recommendations, a list of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic modalities commonly used to manage knee, hip, and hand OA as well as clinical scenarios representing patients with symptomatic hand, hip, and knee OA were generated. Systematic evidence-based literature reviews were conducted by a working group at the Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, and updated by ACR staff to include additions to bibliographic databases through December 31, 2010. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach, a formal process to rate scientific evidence and to develop recommendations that are as evidence based as possible, was used by a Technical Expert Panel comprised of various stakeholders to formulate the recommendations for the use of non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic modalities for OA of the hand, hip, and knee.

Both strong and conditional recommendations were made for OA management. Modalities conditionally recommended for the management of hand OA include instruction in joint protection techniques, provision of assistive devices, use of thermal modalities and trapeziometacarpal joint splints, and use of oral and topical nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), tramadol, and topical capsaicin.

Non-pharmacologic modalities strongly recommended for the management of knee OA were aerobic, aquatic, and/or resistance exercises as well as weight loss for overweight patients. Non-pharmacologic modalities conditionally recommended for knee OA included medial wedge insoles for valgus knee OA, subtalar strapped lateral insoles for varus knee OA, medially directed patellar taping, manual therapy, walking aids, thermal agents, Tai Chi, self management programs, and psychosocial interventions.

Pharmacologic modalities conditionally recommended for the initial management of patients with knee OA included acetaminophen, oral and topical NSAIDs, tramadol, and intraarticular corticosteroid injections; intraarticular hyaluronate injections, duloxetine, and opioids were conditionally recommended in patients who had an inadequate response to initial therapy. Opioid analgesics were strongly recommended in patients who were either not willing to undergo or had contraindications for total joint arthroplasty after having failed medical therapy. Recommendations for hip OA were similar to those for the management of knee OA.

These recommendations are based on the consensus judgment of clinical experts from a wide range of disciplines, informed by available evidence, balancing the benefits and harms of both non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic modalities, and incorporating their preferences and values. It is hoped that these recommendations will be utilized by health care providers involved in the management of patients with OA.