INDIAN SUMMER, and the Tranisition between all Seasons: Earth

As we pay attention to the natural rhythms of life, we easily attune and find harmony. Now it is time to turn our awareness to Late Summer / Indian Summer – the Earth Element. This is the interchange of all seasons, the Center. It is the point of transition from yang to yin, between the expansive growth phases of spring and summer, and the inward, cooler, more mysterious fall and winter seasons. This is a pleasant, tranquil, and flourishing season. One may feel as if time stops and activity becomes effortless, dreamlike. Unity, harmony, and the middle way are summoned between the extremes. The interchange between periods (the two equinoxes and two solstices are also buffers between seasons, governed by the Earth Element), represents pivotal pauses in the light patterns we experience from the sun, the center of our solar system.

To attune with late summer, listen and pay attention, to its subtle current. Find the rhythms and cycles that make life simple and harmonious, centered and balanced. Yellow and orange are the colors of the season. Chaotic, rigid, discordant conditions, whether mental or physical, can be transformed through centering practices such as qigong and tai chi.

Foods: Choose foods for each meal that are harmonizing and represent the center – mildly sweet foods, yellow or golden foods, round foods. Select foods known to harmonize the center – millet, corn, carrots, cabbage, garbanzo beans, soybeans, squash, potatoes, string beans, yams, fresh tofu, sweet potatoes, sweet rice, rice, amaranth, peas, chestnuts, filberts, apricots, cantaloupe. Prepare foods simply. Practice moderation as a guide – preparation, cooking time, temperature, methods, use of oils and water.

You may choose this time of interchange to practice a purification – a mild cleansing. Naturally, these practices may be followed at any time of year to support balanced and harmonious experiences.

The Earth Element’s related organs, the spleen-pancreas and stomach, are primarily responsible for digestion and distribution of food and nutrients /life experiences and how they nourish us. The qi energy and other essencesextracted from digestion are used by the body to create wei qi (say ‘way chee’) or immunity, vitality, warmth, and formation of the body’s tissue and mental functions.

In balance, we are able to nurture ourselves and others; feel strong, active, and stable. We have good appetite and digestion, endurance. We feel organized and orderly; attentive; creative with a flourishing sense of imagination.

What you can do: Nurture – yourself, others; allow yourself to be nurtured…spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Play six healing sounds qigong, standing practices to ground and send deep roots into the earth.

Enjoy Indian Summer. May life be rich, vibrant, harmonious, peaceful, easy, and creative!

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.