by John G. Connor, M.Ac., L.Ac., edited by Barbara Connor, M.Ac., L.Ac.
Table of Contents
- Introduction to Acupuncture and Cranio-Sacral Therapy
- Conditions Shown by Studies to be Benefited by Acupuncture
- Conditions and Groups of People Benefited by Exercise
- Benefits of Acupuncture in Exercise
- Importance of Exercise
- Four Basic Dietary Prescriptions for Health and Fitness
- Ten Ways a Good Botanical/Nutritional Athletic Enhancement Program Increases Overall Performance
- What are Adaptogens?
- Herbs and Nutrients which Enhance and Support Exercise
- Foods that Improve Overall Health and Reduce the Risk of Disease
Introduction to Acupuncture and Cranio-Sacral Therapy
Chinese Medicine has been around for at least 3000 years since the Shang Dynasty when the hieroglyphs of acupuncture and moxibustion appeared. During this period the philosophical thinking of yin-yang and the five elements was formed. Two silk scrolls recording meridians and collaterals dates back to the third century BC. Golden and silver needles were excavated from the Han Dynasty in 113 BC. Health in eastern philosophies is regarded as a state of balance between these energies, where all the systems of the body, including mind and spirit, function in harmony with each other.
The view of health has successively changed and expanded due to the progress of behavioural sciences as well as by changing patterns of diseases in the western world. Thereby the biomedical view of health has changed into a more holistic way to look at health in human beings. This means that peoples’ experiences, thoughts, feelings, emotions, as well as other phenomena that cannot be measured are included in the concept of health. The body and the soul are regarded as closely related and health is viewed as a multi-facetted perfectible resource. (Svensson & Hallberg 2011)
The caduceus first appears as the staff of the legendary Egyptian high priest, Tehuty, later called Hermes by the Greeks. It also appears as the symbol of the later Greek physician Asklepios (or Aesculapius) who was probably a student and initiate of Tehuty. Asklepios and his two daughters, Panacea and Hygeia, established a healing temple, which became the Oracle of Epidauros. Asklepios came to be regarded as one who healed not only sickness but the soul as well. As such the serpent acquired even further significance as symbolizing both the subtle “currents” of the body and the “spiral windings of the soul’s evolutionary path”. (Bruyere, R., Wheels of Light, p. 130)
This duality is represented in Hindu mysticism by the Ida and Pingala — the male and female serpents that intertwine in the body. Ida = yin, moon, feminine current. Pingala = yang, sun, male current. When these “snakes” have risen to the top of the spine, some people say they sense an opposing downward force which is called sushumna. (Bruyere, R., Wheels of Light, p. 130)
In order to become whole (healed) we must integrate the polarities, the masculine and feminine energies within us. We must integrate the good and the bad, the light and shadow aspects of ourselves. To become truly whole we have to transcend the polarity of opposites. This is symbolised by the image of the wings that are aligned to the crown chakra, symbolising the flight to freedom, wholeness, completeness and ultimate union with Pure Consciousness/God.
Dr. Binod Kumar Joshi and his two colleagues, Drs. Ram Lal Shah and Geeta Joshi have found new information showing that the roots of acupuncture come not from the Orient but from ayurveda, an Indian form of healing. They found evidence showing that marmas mentioned in an ancient treatise called the “Sushrit Samhita” correspond precisely with traditional acupuncture points used to treat the vital organs and that the dhamnis and siras mentioned in the treatise depict meridians and channels that aid in the flow of qi. This may help us better explain some of the similarities found in the energetic Indian chakra system with the qi and meridian energy system of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The nadis of the Eastern yogic system are the same as the meridians which we talk about in Chinese Medicine. Every human body has 72,000 nadis — or meridians as the Chinese call them — and they represent the sympathetic strings on an instrument, while the seven main notes represent the chakras. (From the notes of the CD of K. Sridhar (sarod) and K. Shivakumar (violin) (Shrinagar, 1989)
The great Tibetan yogi Milarepa (1040-1123) – wrote: “In practicing the Nadis (Meridians), Pranas (Qi) and Bindus (Essence) I meditate on the Three Channels (Ida, Pingala and Shushumna) and Four Centers. As the attachment to the body is exhausted the ego gets dissolved into nothing. The Key-words of the Five Elements are purified, so they vanish not but become illumined. I behold the self-face of Reality, so there is no chance for me to make mistakes. The Pranas are all gathered in the Central Channel, and thus they hit the vital point. My mind is at ease and full of joy. I am ever happy.”
The relationship between acupuncture and yoga is described in a book entitled Moola Bandha. In this book it is explained that the conception vessel (also called the Ren channel) and governor vessel (or the Du channel) of the Chinese and Japanese acupuncture systems, correspond to the arohan and awarohan pathways of kriya yoga. Kriya yoga seems to have been known in China, for a system similar to kriya yoga is mentioned in a scripture called the Tai Chin Hua Tzang Chih (The Secret of the Golden Flower).
The main chakra energy centers are along the central vertical axis of the body, which is also coincidentally where the Governor and Conception channels traverse carrying Qi up and down the vertical axis of the body. These two channels are also closely linked with the other Extra channels and with the Kidneys. So during an acupuncture treatment we can consciously direct energy to a particular center. For example, the Head center can be accessed through the acupuncture point Yin Tang; the Heart center can be accessed through CV-17and the Body center can be accessed through CV-4 and so on. The acupuncture points and channels can therefore be seen as an interface between the physical and energy bodies, having aspects of each.
According to Charles Shang of the Emory University School of Medicine there is a relationship between the meridian system and embryogenesis. He proposed that the meridian system contains relatively under differentiated epithelial cells connected by gap junctions which transduce signals and play a central role in mediating acupuncture effects.
Shang explains that there are organizing centers which are high electric conductance points on the body surface. The high conductance phenomenon is further supported by the finding of high density of gap junctions at the sites of organizing centers. Both acupuncture points and organizing centers have high electric conductance, current density, high density of gap junction, and can be activated by nonspecific stimuli. Acupuncture points, which also have high electrical conductance and high density of gap junctions originate from organizing centers. So when we insert acupuncture needles into these points we activate this electrical conductance — or what we call Qi in Chinese Medicine.
The Buddhist conception of the five elements was imported to China from India. The Chinese speak of the Five Elements — wood, fire, earth, metal and water. In the Five Element System for example, from wood can be produced fire, and fire heats metal and makes it liquid. So it can be said that sprituality (fire) prevails over materiality (metal).
The key to diagnosis in 5 Element Acupuncture is discerning the root imbalance. Each element has a corresponding emotion, flavor, organ, sense, tissue, season, color, etc. that can be perceived when that element is out of balance.It is theorized that the meridian system lies in the superficial fascia of the connective tissue just a few millimeters below the surface of the skin. The Qi circulating within these channels is the bioelectric energies associated with the connective tissue structures of the fascia.
The meridians are the transmission lines among the various parts of the body, making the organism a unified whole.
The meridians and their tributaries provide Qi and Blood and thus warmth and nourishment for the whole body and also serve as lines of communication among the organs and the body.
By means of the interconneting system of the meridians, the five elements maintain a relative balance and coordination.
The meridians adjust the ebb and flow of Qi in the body and help maintain a balance of yin and yang, blood and Qi and defense and construction.
The craniosacral rhythm was first discovered and described by William G. Sutherland, D.O. in the early 1900s. However, it was not until the extensive work of John E. Upledger, D.O. beginning in 1970 that we were able to have what many consider today to be the clearest explanation of the craniosacral system and its rhythm.
Dr. Sutherland maintained that the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was the initial recipient of the potency of the Breath of Life — the life force that is considered to be the spark that is the life principle in the human body. The CSF is considered to be the agent by which this spark is conveyed to all the cells and tissues. One of the chief aims of craniosacral therapy is to assist the craniosacral system in expressing this healing and ordering principle and to help whatever has become restricted or chaotic to reconnect with this potency.
Craniosacral motion is a rhythmical motion felt in the whole body in response to the craniosacral system’s rhythm. This motion is probably related to the effect of the fluctuation of the CSF upon the nervous system, which in turn influences the tonus of the body tissues. Trained practitioners are able to palpate the motion of the craniosacral system anywhere on a patient’s body and by monitoring this wavelike motion can determine any restriction or dysfunction in the craniosacral system. Impairments to this normal physiological motion within the body are called restrictions. They can result from inflammation, adhesions, musculoskeletal dysfunctions and neuroreflexes. The dissipation of a restriction is called a release. A release is sensed as a softening of the obstacle against which the physiological motion was fighting. When a resistance melts there is a palpable relaxation of the tissues.
What role does fascia play in the craniosacral system? Fascia is the slightly mobile, continuous sheath of connective tissue, which invests all of the muscles, bones and organs of the body. It is fascia, which allows for the rhythmical internal and external rotation of the total body in compliance with the flexion and extension activities of the craniosacral system. During the flexion phase the body rotates externally and broadens. During the extension phase the body rotates internally and seems to narrow slightly. Because body fascia is a single system abnormal tension patterns in the fascia may be transmitted from one body part to another.
How do we use acupuncture and cranio-sacral therapy together? The cranio-sacral restriction patterns that we feel in patients may be due to injuries, repetitive stress, as well as patterns of emotional and physical stresses from general living. So each time we insert an acupuncture needle into a specific area connected with a fascial restriction, it moves the fascial, connective and muscle tissues that are holding these restriction patterns thereby allowing the body to move and shift out of these patterns.
Conditions Shown by Studies to be Benefited by Acupuncture:
- After-Treatment of Accidents
- Allergic Rhinitis and Allergic Asthma
- Balance Disorders
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia
- Crohn’s Disease
- Dental Pain
- Facial Muscular Pain
- Frozen Shoulder
- Headache and Migraine
- High Blood Pressure
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Knee Pain
- Low Back Pain
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Neck and Shoulder Pain
- Painful Conditions
- Painful Peripheral Neuropathy
- Premenstrual Syndrome
- Raynaud’s Syndrome
- Renal Colic
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Stroke Rehabilitation
- Tennis Elbow
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Weight Reduction
Conditions and Groups of People Benefited by Exercise
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Chronic Disease
- Memory & Cognition
- Muscle Strength
- Old Age
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Postmenopausal Women
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Weight and Fat Loss
Benefits of Acupuncture in Exercise:
In addition to its curative properties in various chronic conditions, demonstrated by the number of clinical trials, acupuncture has been recently applied as an enhancer of sports performance. Reviewed studies of published literature on the use of acupuncture in resistance and endurance sports activities demonstrated the association of traditional acupuncture protocol with increase of muscular strength and power. In cases regarding endurance activities, acupuncture treatment improved hemodynamic parameters of participants but not their aerobic performance. (Ahmedov S 2010)
Acupuncture may become an additional therapeutic strategy to improve the exercise tolerance of patients with congestive heart failure, potentially by improving skeletal muscle function. (Kristen et al 2010)
Traditional Chinese medicine methods, such as herbs, massage and acupuncture, were well applied in China for managing sports injuries. They were treated as a kind of effective alternative method, especially in treating ankle ligamentous sprain injury. The effect was already widely reported in the Chinese literature, and also in numerous studies in the English literature, on its analgesic effect to relieve pain, reduce swelling and edema, restoring normal ankle function. (Fong et al 2009)
Importance of Exercise:
The leading causes of death in 2000 were tobacco (435 000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (365 000 deaths; 15.2%) [corrected], and alcohol consumption (85 000 deaths; 3.5%). Other actual causes of death were microbial agents (75 000), toxic agents (55 000), motor vehicle crashes (43 000), incidents involving firearms (29 000), sexual behaviors (20 000), and illicit use of drugs (17 000). (Mokdad et al 2004)
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that most adults engage in moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise training for =30 min d on =5 d wk for a total of =150 min wk, vigorous-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise training for =20 min d on =3 d wk (=75 min wk), or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity exercise to achieve a total energy expenditure of =500-1000 metabolic equivalents (METs) min wk. (Garber et al 2011)
Ideally, exercise prescription for older adults should include aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening exercises, and flexibility exercises. All older adults should engage in regular physical activity and avoid an inactive lifestyle. (American College of Sports Medicine et al 2009)
Hippocrates, over 400 years BC, already suggested that the safest way to health would be the right amount of physical activity and nourishment. Specifically, exercise contributes to the prevention of several cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Also, recent studies have shown that exercise is not only good for the heart, lungs, vessels, muscles and bones, but it also improves the health of the brain. Physical exercise may contribute to the improvement of cognitive and behavioral functioning through neurobiological mechanisms necessary for neurogenesis, angiogenesis, synaptogenesis and plasticity. So, as aging speeds up degenerative processes, like sarcopenia, osteoporosis and cerebral atrophy, physical exercise increases lean body mass, bone mineral density and the formation of new neurons and neuroplasticity. (Andrea Deslandes 2013)
Four Basic Dietary Prescriptions for Health and Fitness:
- Maintain a healthy body weight by adjusting food intake and exercising.
- Eliminate or reduce your intake of commercial refined fats, specifically trans fats and processed fats, such as those fats found in most fast food, restaurants, and fried foods.
- Increase total complex carbohydrates, especially those from whole grains and brown rice. Reduce intake of refined starches and sugars.
- Eat 4-5 serving of fruit per day and 7-10 servings of vegetables.
Ten Ways a Good Athletic Botanical/Nutritional Enhancement Program Increases Overall Performance:
- Enhances and sustains energy and endurance, reducing fatigue to maximize energy transfer,
- Enhances the efficient utilization of glucose and insulin,
- Enhances the efficient utilization of fatty acids: by stimulating the use of fatty acids by the muscle, you reduce carbohydrate use, which allows for longer and more efficient exercise,
- Enhances oxygen utilization, by aiding in more efficient cellular ATP transfer and mitochondrial response
- Anabolic/anti-catabolic – Gaining lean muscle mass, reducing body fat,
- Shortens recovery and reduces the buildup of toxic waste substances resulting from intense training,
- Balances endocrine hormones, the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal-Axis (HPAA), particularly DHEA/cortisol, testosterone, thyroid hormone and human growth hormone; while aiding in the removal of various negative hormones and hormone-metabolites such as estrogen and excess insulin,
- Improves overall health and well being, giving support to the heart, liver, kidneys, immune and digestive system (athletes often have poor immune systems and reduced levels of glutathione, the body’s most important antioxidant),
- Aids in stress resistance and builds stress defense (stress is a major contributor to diminished performance, injury, and a shortened career),
- Reduces risk of injury, muscle fatigue and cramping.
The optimization of mitochondrial function to improve energy production may depend on utilizing both carbohydrate- and fat-burning pathways. Adaptogens improve the ability to utilize carbohydrates and fats as well as proteins. This process can be further enhanced with the addition of critical nutrients that support mitochondrial function such as: Magnesium Glycyl Glutamine, Alpha Glycerol Phosphyl Choline, Pyridoxal Alpha Ketoglutarate, L-carnitine, and Alpha Lipoic Acid. These can greatly reduce oxidative stress and increase mitochondrial activity; thus inhibit or delay the onset of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer, as well as increase athletic performance, recovery, and longevity.
Other nutrients, such as vanadium, chromium and zinc are vital to increasing insulin sensitivity and signaling, neuroendocrine balance, energy efficiency and mitochondrial activity.
Adaptogens provide the basis through which people can build up energy reserves to enable the body to respond during times of acute stress. When the body needs it most is under extreme physical and/or mental tension and during recovery from fatigue, illness, or trauma.
What are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are plants that help us to combat the negative effects of stress and improve resistance thus improving our health and well-being. They increase the body’s vitality and reserve, enhance the life-force, encourage natural harmony and generate radiant health. A primary adaptogen is a remedy which: 1) Must be safe and have minimal to no side effects, even with prolonged consumption. 2) Must enhance the general resistance of the entire body. 3) Must act in a non-specific way having a ‘normalizing effect’ against all forms of stress. 4) Must have an ability to maintain or restore homeostasis. 5) Must also have solid scientific research validating its use as an adaptogen.
Examples of primary adaptogens are: Eleutherococcus senticosus (formerly known as Siberian Ginseng), Schisandra chinensis (Schisandra seed), Panax quinquefolius (American Ginseng), Rhodiola rosea (Golden Arctic root), and Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha root).
Secondary adaptogens meet most of the qualifications of primary adaptogens; demonstrate some normalizing activity, especially on the immune, nervous, and hormonal systems; and may offer a full range of non-specific protective effects to all organ systems when taken regularly, thus complimenting and lending attributes beyond the benefits of primary adaptogens alone. An example of a secondary adaptogen is: Ganoderma lucidum.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the art and science of herbal combining has been practiced for over two thousand years with the understanding of the synergy in creating a formula. The herbal and nutritive system we use combines the best of TCM, Ayurveda, and the Eclectic American Medical system. When building a formula and/or protocol for a person, we believe regardless of what condition they have, or what they present as far as symptomology, the foundation should be adaptogens and should include one or more flavonoid-rich plants. Rather than thinking in terms of the individual herbs and the specific individual effects they might have, we need to start thinking in terms of their synergistic blending. An important attribute of adaptogens is their ability to restore and/or maintain a healthy variable balance between the yin and yang energies throughout the body. They can also include plant extracts like cbd. You can also get these adaptogens in oil form, all you need to do is find out how to shop for CBD online.
Adaptogens work at the cellular level to help normalize the body’s various functions and stimulate the recovery processes needed to adapt to all of the different types of stress in our lives. Accumulative stress causes the body’s subsequent inability to perform key functions efficiently, and it is this cause and effect that has been linked with most illnesses, ailments and diseases.
Adaptogens assist the body because of their ability to normalize homeostasis, optimize metabolism, revitalize exhausted organ systems, and improve resistance to a variety of adverse factors without side effects. Adaptogens balance and rejuvenate the yin (inward) and yang (outward) energy. They help us to cope with stress more effectively, psychologically, mentally and emotionally. They enable us to stay strong and healthy during times that we may otherwise get weak and/or sick. They also resist or delay many of the negative effects of aging by providing us with better physical, mental and sexual energy; they delay the effects of aging of the eye, skin, heart, and all the organ systems. They improve sleep that might otherwise be disrupted. Therefore, herbal adaptogens hold great promise for the development and prevention of chronic illness due to their ability to enhance our resistance to a variety of adverse influences.
Adaptogens also lower plasma corticosterone levels, thus reducing the damage caused by excess cortisol. In other situations they potentiate cortisol and ACTH, sparing the breakdown of cortisol delaying the exhaustive state. Cortisol helps the body maintain homeostasis in the face of stressors, counteracts inflammatory and allergic reactions and controls the metabolism of protein and carbohydrates. Cortisol is a very misunderstood hormone. Balance, or better yet, harmony is truly the key. In naturally low doses it stimulates the immune system and in high doses, as prescribed in synthetic drug form, it can be immune suppressing. Remember that cortisol plays a role in counteracting inflammatory responses in the immune system and when cortisol is not available because the adrenal glands have become exhausted from too much stress, inflammation is allowed to continue unchecked and fatigue sets in. Adaptogens can in some way recognize the need to aid in providing more cortisol, or recognize when cortisol is being overproduced for no apparently good reason and needs to be suppressed. All of this over time strengthens and preserves our adaptive energy, preventing stress from causing disruptions, illness and premature aging. Being able to modulate either deficient or excess conditions is characteristic of a true adaptogen.
In addition, adaptogens have been shown to help our bodies tolerate stressful stimuli (including hard athletic training) by normalizing the body’s metabolism and stimulating the body’s immune system. Some of the specific results of this are: 1) An increased and steadier flow of energy throughout the day, 2) Much lower feelings of stress, 3) Increased endurance, 4) Greater mental alertness, and 5) More restful sleep. In addition, certain adaptogens have a profound anabolic effect. This means they help the body rebuild damaged muscle tissue rapidly and thoroughly following strenuous training.
Herbs and Nutrients which Enhance and Support Exercise:
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) – A recent study assessed the effects of Withania somnifera and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults. The authors concluded that Withania somnifera may be useful for generalized weakness and to improve speed and lower limb muscular strength and neuro-muscular co-ordination. (Sandhu et al 2010)
Ashwagandha is specific for a wide range of conditions including arthritic inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, respiratory disorders including emphysema, asthma bronchitis and coughs, nervous disorders, gynecological disorders, especially functional female and male infertility and impotence. From this it would seem that Ashwagandha should be considered for all immuno-compromised diseases including TB and AIDS, chronic upper respiratory diseases, degenerative symptoms attendant to aging, juvenile mal-development and growth, chronic neurological diseases especially anxiety, nervousness, depression and insomnia, weak digestion, fluid retention caused by lowered body metabolism and for low sexual libido.
Ashwagandha is considered a premier herb for all negative conditions associated with aging. This includes its use for the prevention and inhibition of senile dementia and arthritis. This herb acts as an excellent overall tonic.Curcumin – One study examined the effects of curcumin on inflammation and recovery of running performance following downhill running in mice. The results of the study support the hypothesis that curcumin can reduce inflammation and offset some of the performance deficits associated with eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. (Davis et al 2007)
Turmeric (Curcuma longa and Curcuma domestica) – This study examined the effects of curcumin on inflammation and recovery of running performance following downhill running in mice. The results of this study support the hypothesis that curcumin can reduce inflammation and offset some of the performance deficits associated with eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. (Davis et al 2007)
Actions of Turmeric:
- Anti-Carcinogenic: Skin, Melanoma, Multiple Myeloma, Breast, Colon, Prostate, Lymphomas, Cervical, Oral, CML, CLL, PML, Neuroblastoma etc.
- Anti-Inflammatory: Inhibits NF-kappaB, COX-2, LOX-5 & 12, IL-6, TNF-a, suppresses PG2
- Anti-Angiogenesis & Anti-Metastatic: Inhibits VEGF, bFGF, EGF, PDGF, and MMP-2
- Anti-Oxidant/ Free Radical Scavenger/ Protects Against Lipid Peroxidation, increases glutathione peroxidase, glutathione S-transferase and NADPH: quinone reductase
- Inhibit chemical carcinogenesis
- Pro-oxidant: Selective cancer cell pro-oxidant: increases the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) selective to cancer
- Anti-Thrombotic: inhibits platelet aggregation and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-stimulated proliferation
- Anti-Mutagenic, Anti-Tumor: activates T-cells, tumor-fighting cytokines, inhibits NF-kappa B
- Normalizes cellular behavior and gene expression: down-regulates the anti-apoptotic gene Bcl-2, IkappaBalpha, Bcl-x(L), cyclin D1, and interleukin-6, activates caspases-3,7,8 and 9, igniting cancer cell apoptosis
- Chemotherapy Enhancement and chemo-related protection (heart, liver, kidney and brain), overcomes chemo-resistance (MDR) and induces chemo-sensitivity
- Radiation protective and radiation sensitizing
- Neuro-protective: reduces beta-amyloid, inhibits Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia
- Multiple sclerosis (MS): May block the progression of MS
- Adrenal Health: enhances adrenal steroidogenesis – adaptogenic – stress protection
- Anabolic – stimulates muscle regeneration
- Cardiovascular Health: lipid lowering – Elevates HDL Cholesterol while Lowering VLDL + LDL Cholesterol, improves blood motility, anti-atherosclerotic, inhibits platelet aggregation, plaque formation and lipid oxidation
- Gastrointestinal Health: Anti-ulcerogenic, choleretic, dyspeptic conditions, including loss of appetite, postprandial feelings of fullness, and liver and gallbladder complaints
- Pancreatitis Treatment – via antioxidative
- Anti-viral: Inhibits HIV Replication
- Liver Protective: modulates Phase I & II enzyme systems, prevents alcohol and chemically-induced liver disease
- Anti-arthritic and Antioxidative
- Detoxification of heavy metals (iron, mercury, copper etc.)
- Ocular Health: prevents age-related cataracts – via antioxidative; inhibits corneal vascularization (Macular Degeneration), treats chronic anterior uveitis
- Skin Health: treatment for skin/mucosal conditions: protective against skin cancer, age-related and oxidative damage; treat scabies and other skin disorders
American Ginseng – The major finding of this investigation was that the production of plasma creatine kinase (CK)* during exercise significantly decreased for group American Ginseng (AG) over group P (P<0.05). (Hsu et al 2005) * The plasma creatine kinase (CK) marker is used to determine muscle damage.
Panax notoginseng (PNG) – Based on this study, we conclude that 1,350 mg per day PNG supplement for 30 days improved endurance time to exhaustion, and lowered mean blood pressure and Vo2 during endurance exercise. (Liang et al 2005)
Echinacea, Rhodiola, Ginseng – It seems that the prevalent effect is adaptogenic rather than ergogenic, with a better tolerance of the exercise induced stress, related to enhancement of the whole immune system and decrease of the oxidative damage. (Megna et al 2012)
Eleutherococcus senticosus – This animal study was designed to ascertain the anti-fatigue property of Acanthopanax senticosus by load-weighted swimming test, sleep deprivation test, also to isolate and characterize the active constituents. The eleutherosides possess potent abilities to alleviate fatigue both in physical and mental fatigue. (Huang et al 2011)
Eleuthero is a primary adaptogen. It is thought to help support adrenal gland function when the body is challenged by stress. Eleuthero enhances physical capability and stamina and stimulates mental work ability (quality of work). The Leaf extract is more effective in mental and physical stimulation while the root extract is more effective at sustaining performance over a long period of time. The leaf is also more effective for balancing blood insulin and glucose levels than the root. Using the leaf and root extract together appears to be more effective than either one used alone.
Actions of Eleutherococcus:
- Anti-fatigue effect – enhances mental acuity and physical endurance, work and exercise capacity, without the letdown that comes with stimulants such as caffeine products
- Increased noradrenaline and serotonin and quicker recovery from acute stress
- Improves oxygen uptake by the exercising muscle enabling longer workouts and quicker recovery in performance athletes
- Anabolic effect showing to stimulate protein synthesis in the pancreas, liver and adrenal cortex
- Improvement in learning and memory
- Protects against environmental pollutants and radiation
- Normalizes body temperature, thus treating hypothermia
- Regulates blood-sugar levels (leaf extract is more effective than the root)
- Protects the liver and enhances its ability to break down and eliminate drugs from the body
- Increases the body’s ability to resist infection, prevents colds and the flu, shortens recovery time
- Supports optimum endocrine function
- Antiviral, Anticancer, Anti-alcoholic and Antitoxin
- Inhibits metastasis of cancer
- Decreases the side effects of toxic therapies like chemotherapy and radiation
- Strong antioxidant against free radicals and antilipid peroxidative activities
- Improves visual acuity and color perception
- Protects against bone loss induced by steroid hormones
- Improves circadian biorhythms
Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) – On the basis of our findings, a high dose (400 mg/kg, i.p.) of the extracts of Ocimum sanctum increased the swimming time in mice suggesting a central nervous system stimulant and/or anti-stress activity. The effect produced by the extract was comparable to that of desipramine, an antidepressant drug. (Maity et al 2000)Modern research has confirmed dozens of Holy Basil’s traditionally known actions and therapeutic uses including its remarkable adaptogenic and anti-stress activities, as well as its powerful support for the immune system. Holy Basil modulates the “stress response,” increases adaptive energy and elevates the spirit.
Actions of Holy Basil:
- Decreased the incidence of gastric ulcer,
- Increased endurance,
- Adaptogenic – lowered the stress-induced release of adrenal hormones, 1
- Increased physical performance,
- Antioxidant: reduced oxidative stress, modulated inflammation (COX-2 inhibition), Liver protective
- Eye health – anti-catarrh
- normalized blood pressure,
- cardio-tonic, inhibition of platelet aggregation,
- anti-diabetic activity.
- Anti-cancer, protects against radiation and chemotherapy-induced damage
Quercetin and vitamin C – Supplementation with quercetin and vitamin C for 8 weeks did not improve exercise performance but it did reduce muscle damage and body fat percent in healthy subjects. (Askari et al 2012)
Quercetin and Lactobacillus probiotics – Evidence is accumulating that some nutritional supplements including flavonoids such as quercetin and Lactobacillus probiotics can augment some aspects of immune function and reduce illness rates in exercise-stressed athletes. (Walsh et al 2011)
Quercetin is a flavone, a sub category of a class of water-soluble plant pigments called flavonoids. It is found in apples, onions, broccoli, eucalyptus, green, black and red tea, and blue-green algae. Apples contain a variety of phytochemicals, including quercetin, which contribute to apple’s overall health benefits. Flavonoids are reported to exhibit a wide variety of biological effects, including antioxidant and free radical scavenging activities. Quercetin is not only useful in preventing allergic reactions, but also as a useful agent for the prevention and treatment of cancer, heart disease, inflammatory condition, such as psoriasis, urticaria. Quercetin possesses anti-viral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer abilities.
Quercetin protects LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) from becoming damaged. Quercetin blocks an enzyme that leads to accumulation of sorbitol, which has been linked to nerve, eye, and kidney damage in those with diabetes.
Resveratrol – In this animal study resveratrol (RES) supplementation produced dose-dependent decreases in serum lactate and ammonia levels and creatine kinase (CK) activity after the 15-min swimming test. (Wu et al 2013)
Resveratrol – Exercise training improves endurance capacity by increasing both skeletal muscle mitochondrial number and function, as well as contributing to favourable cardiac remodeling. Interestingly, some of the benefits of regular exercise can also be mimicked by resveratrol. (Dolinsky et al 2012)
Actions of Resveratrol:
- Anti-Carcinogenic – inhibits proliferation, angiogenesis, tumor invasion, metastasis, enhances immune response, and induces apoptosis.
- Chemopreventive – anti-inflammatory, estrogenic/anti-estrogenic
- Potent inhibitor of NF kappa B, AP-1, COX-2, PG2, TNF-alpha, IL-6; also inhibits inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase.
- Powerful Anti-Oxidant – inhibits lipid peroxidation, food preservative, free radical scavenger, glutathione sparing
- Immune Cell Function – modulates cytokine activity
- Cardioprotective – anti-atherosclerotic, improves venous insufficiency,
- Lung health: treatment for COPD
- Skin Protectant – antimicrobial, enhances diabetic wound care, inhibits MMP-8
- Gene normalizing
Rhaponticum carthamoides – Soviet and Russian athletes have used and still use rhaponticum to improve athletic performance, endurance, and recovery from intensive training. Regular use of this herb promotes the building of muscle tissue, enhances the excretion of uric and lactic acid, and stimulates blood flow to the muscles and brain. (Winston & Maines, Adaptogens : Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief; Healing Arts Press, 2007, page 189)
Actions of R. carthamoides:
- Increases protein synthesis, reduces adipose tissue, builds muscle mass
- Increases stamina, endurance and athletic performance, and work productivity
- Improves mental health, learning and memory
- Improves adaptivity to cold climates
- Enhances immune activity
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Reduces body fat/increases lean muscle
- otent antioxidant
- Anti-arrhythmia, anticancer and anti-epileptic
- Stimulates erythropoiesis, increasing erythrocytes and hemoglobin
- Sexual enhancement, improves sperm number and quality
Rhodiola rosea – The purpose of this double blind placebo-controlled randomized study was to investigate the effect of acute and 4-week Rhodiola rosea intake on physical capacity, muscle strength, speed of limb movement, reaction time, and attention. Acute Rhodiola rosea intake can improve endurance exercise capacity in young healthy volunteers. (De Bock et al 2004)
Actions of Rhodiola rosea:
- Antifatigue – increases physical endurance, work productivity, longevity, shortens recovery time between bouts of high-intensity exercise. Studies include normal people as well as Olympic-level athletes.
- Increases memory and learning capacity,decreases the level of psychic fatigue and anxiety
- Balances nervous and endocrine systems – superior to ginseng during acute stress, preventing stress-induced disruptions: improves the HPA response, and enhances performance
- Sexual enhancement
- Assist in Weight Reduction
- Antidepressant, Anti-arrhythmic
- Immune system enhancement, biological response modifier
- Antimutagenic, Anticarcinogenic and Antimetastatic
- Chemoprotective, chemopoteniating
- Radiation protective
- Cardioprotective – prevents stress-induced catecholamine activity in cardiac tissue and reduce adrenaline induced arrhythmias in animals. RREregulates blood pressure and heart rate
- Resistance to altitude sickness: improves sleep, breathing, and fatigue
- Protective action against a lethal heat shock
- Antioxidant activities – increases intracellular oxygen diffusion and efficiency of oxygen utilization and reduces oxidative damage
- Antidiabetic, insulin-tropic – enabling better insulin sensitivity and signaling
- Prevents ischemic brain damage
- Prevents lung damage in pulmonary hypertension
- Reduces inflammation: Lowers C-Reactive Protein
Fenugreek seed – The 300 mg/kg fenugreek seed extract group showed a significant increase in swimming time to exhaustion as compared to the control group in this animal study. These results suggest that improvement in swimming endurance by the administration of fenugreek seed extract is caused by the increase in the utilization of fatty acids as an energy source.(Ikeuchi et al 2006)
Creatine and sodium bicarbonate supplementation independently increase exercise performance. These data suggest that combining these 2 supplements may be advantageous for athletes participating in high-intensity, intermittent exercise. (Barber et al 2013)
Creatine supplementation significantly increased body weights of the athletes of endurance trial. (Tang et al 2013)
Sodium bicarbonate supplementation is likely to be beneficial to the performance of those competing in 2000m rowing events, particularly in the second half of the event. (Hobson et al 2013)
Taurine – Additional supplementation of Taurine with branched-chain amino acids would be a useful way to attenuate delayed-onset muscle soreness and muscle damage induced by high-intensity exercise. (Ra et al 2013)
Compliance with moderate-to-high-intensity endurance training enhances the positive effects of a model of the Mediterranean diet on the regenerative capacity of endothelium and on the fitness of metabolic syndrome patients. (Fernandez et al 2012)
Compliance with the Mediterranean diet, combined with regular moderate exercise, improves age-provoked microcirculatory endothelial dysfunction and increases exercise tolerance, both responsible for reducing cardiovascular risk in this age group. (Klonizakis et al 2013)
Foods that Improve Overall Health and Reduce the Risk of Disease:
Free range eggs: Eating up to 2 eggs each day does not increase the risk of heart disease. One large egg contains only 75 calories and provides the highest quality protein available. Eggs are also good sources of chromium, choline, vitamins B12, D and K (essential for healthy bones), folate, carotenoids and iron.
Organic whole milk dairy, such as yogurt.
Fresh fruits: Citrus fruits in general are great sources of vitamin C, folate and antioxidants such as flavonoids and carotenoids.
Fresh vegetables: Both cooked and raw.
Fish, cold water fish, wild salmon, anchovies, sardines, shrimp, etc: These varieties of fish are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They are low in calories and total fat, but are high in protein, and vitamins B6, B12, and B3.
Nuts: Walnuts and almonds are rich in alpha-linoleic acid, unsaturated fats, protein, omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. Eight walnut halves, or 14 almonds supply about 100 calories, so don’t eat nuts by the bagful. Instead, eat a small handful in place of chips or crackers when looking for a filling healthy snack. You can also choose other nuts, or natural-style peanut butter.
Legumes, such as soybeans, lentils, peas or beans: Not only are these foods high in protein, fiber and anti-oxidants, they are also low in fats and inexpensive. Try substituting vegetarian baked beans, vegetarian chili, or dishes with tofu for foods usually made with meat.
Olive oil is high in mono-unsaturated fats. Use it in cooking, and stay away from fast foods and commercially baked products such as muffins which are often made using fats that are high in artery-clogging trans-fatty acids. Vegetable oils are some of the few sources of vitamin E.
Whole grains breads: Make sure “whole grain” appears as the first ingredient. Whole wheat, corn, rye, spelt, and oats are good sources of phytochemicals, magnesium, fiber, manganese, pantothenic acid, as well as vitamins K, B6 and B3.
Meats such as bison, wild turkey and lamb: These meats are less processed and healthier than the typical commercial meat selections. Eat more vegetarian sources of protein [beans, nuts, and whole milk dairy] and less animal meats.
Epidemiological and clinical studies have linked environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle to cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and neurodegenerative disorders. All of these conditions, as well as the aging process, are associated with oxidative stress due to elevation of ROS or insufficient ROS detoxification. (Limon-Pacheco & Gonsebatt 2008)
Oxidative stress results when production of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) such as superoxide anion radicals, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl radicals exceeds a biological system’s ability to detoxify these reactive intermediates. Overproduction of these free radicals can damage all components of the cell, including proteins, carbohydrates, nucleic acids and lipids leading to progressive decline in physiological function and ultimately cell death. (Adibhatla & Hatcher 2009)
Antioxidants – The beneficial effects of exercise and a healthy diet are well documented in the general population, but poorly understood in elite athletes. In this study training status correlated more strongly with antioxidant status than diet. (Braakhuis et al 2013)
Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that are naturally formed when you exercise and when your body converts food into energy. Your body can also be exposed to free radicals from a variety of environmental sources, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and sunlight. Free radicals can cause “oxidative stress,” a process that can trigger cell damage. Oxidative stress is thought to play a role in a variety of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and eye diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. (nccam.nih.gov)
Foods rich in antioxidants include cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, beans, artichokes, Russet potatoes, prunes, apples and pecans. Other powerful antioxidants include N-acetylcysteine, alpha-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, green tea, curcumin, vitamin C and vitamin E.
The combination of cranio-sacral acupuncture and other body work modalities, life style choices for stress reduction, exercise, herbs and nutrients, proper diet, and spirituality, leads to optimal health.
To penetrate into the essence of all being and significance, and to release the fragrance of that inner attainment for the benefit and guidance of others, by expressing in the world of forms, truth, love, purity and beauty— this is the soul game which has any intrinsic and absolute worth. All other happenings, incidents and attainments can, in themselves, have no lasting importance. — Meher Baba
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Compassionate Acupuncture and Healing Arts, providing craniosacral acupuncture, herbal and nutritional medicine in Durham, North Carolina. Phone number 919-309-7753.