Medicine Is Change
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Throughout its history, Chinese medicine has been full of ideas, theories, and truly amazing perspectives based on necessity. The Ming dynasty (1368–1644) scholar Zhang Jiebin said that “Medicine and the Changes have the same source.” The changes he was referring to are those described in the “I Ching,” a book which reflects the underpinnings of not only Chinese culture but of health itself: Yin and Yang, or more appropriately Yinyang.

Yin and Yang have been portrayed as opposites; male/female, sun/moon, hot/cold, and so forth. But that’s not exactly accurate. It’s more like something is more warm or more cool than something else. Is it more masculine or more feminine? Yingyang is more like a system of measuring degrees of quality. Applying the principles to ourselves or to our daily lives is like asking whether or not I feel more energetic or less energetic. Do I feel warmer or slightly chilled? Get the meaning here? Ok, let’s get back to change and medicine.

Things don’t typically happen just out of nowhere. Even if we don’t know about it, can’t see it, or, maybe, aren’t directly involved, there’s something happening. It begins with a thought, then intent, and then action-reaction-action. Somewhere, eventually, a pause or rest and possibly more action-reaction.

So, how might we apply the ideas of change to medicine for our 21st century lives? What are our common “dis-eases”? What do they stem from? With certainty I can tell you that most things are generated by our lifestyle choices.

Some simple remedies for common problems are:

  • For fatigue try going to bed a little earlier. You might be getting enough sleep hour-wise (quantity), but maybe you’re too tired by the time you get to bed and your rhythm is off.
     
  • For non-optimal digestion, you will need to put on your detective cap. Before jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon (or any other extreme approach), start by cleaning up your fueling habits and partake in an elimination diet. Get all the processed and packaged food out of your system, get clean, and then reintroduce suspect foods back in one at a time and avoid the obvious no-no’s!
     
  • For feelings of stiffness or feeling older than you really are, get up and move. Hours in front of your keyboard or your steering wheel haven’t helped you much. (And your clutch isn’t helping your left hip either!) Simple daily movement and mobility work such as a 20 minute walk and 10 minutes of mobility to start would be appropriate.
     
  • For general stress and feelings of being overwhelmed (my number one complaint), the first thing I recommend is to learn to breathe from your lower abdomen. Go take a meditation class, in person and not online. Minimize the content you’re inputting to your brain: less news and less internet time. (Don’t worry, you won’t miss much as you think!)

Keep in mind that a product or prescription probably won’t be what rescues you. You’ll rescue yourself by creating change in your daily life and your personal habits. My suggestions are general and you may very well need some assistance. Schedule time on my table and I can assist you in achieving the changes you desire. Make change your Go To medicine!

David EngstromComment
Trump Your Pain (or Stress)
Lower back pain is one of the most common and avoidable problems resulting from poor posture while working at a computer and in particular a laptop.

We were taught in healthcare education that certain topics of conversation were to be avoided with patients. Religion, politics, and other emotional trigger topics (possibly the Seahawks) were best not mentioned.

Times have changed, if you haven’t noticed. Our newly elected president has taken a “business not as usual” approach to his first 100 days of office, though actually it began way before that.

A stir was created and has not stopped and I’ve been hearing about it now for months.  I won’t make any forecasts of what is in store, but I will make a few recommendations that might help:

  • Go on a limited print and digital media diet. Staring at your computer screen or phone taking in more of the “doom & gloom” isn’t going to make you feel any better. Rent a Hollywood created comedy, pop some popcorn, kick back, and turn down the lights. Laugh, knowing that what you’re watching is made up for your entertainment!
  • Self medicating isn’t going to make the news stop either. Moderate whatever it is that you’re consuming; sugar, alcohol, cannibus, 1980’s music videos on Youtube, or whatever.
  • Get some exercise, preferably wherever there isn’t a television screen with a news channel playing. Outdoors, away from power sources and USB ports.
  • Give yourself permission to put that hand held device down, or if possible, just put it away.  Don’t feel guilty if you miss a social media post notification!
  • Sit down with a person or group that you’re fond of and do something not often seen these days and have a real conversation face to face, eye to eye. You might even take your phone dominant hand which won’t have a phone in it and reach out and touch them.

My final tip is to smile and breathe. This isn’t covered by your insurance company I’m sure, but you can do it independently and not have to have a prescription, schedule an appointment, or travel across town. It’s not packaged, there’s no patent, and there’s not yet been an executive order saying you can’t do it!

Perhaps taking the mindset of the founders of our country and be “revolutionaries” (creating) rather than “reactionaries” (bracing), we can live the lives that we truly wish to live.

David EngstromComment
Does Your Home Have Healthy Qi?
How good is the air quality in your home?

You are doing your best to take care of yourself. Eating well, working on getting to bed at a reasonable hour, getting to the gym a few days a week, and maybe an occasional home yoga practice. But for some reason, you’re not feeling your best. Maybe it’s that seasonal allergy, but then again maybe not. Your coworker things you’re gluten intolerant. Your answer may be “right under your nose” or hidden in plain sight!

Have you looked around the house? Behind the bed or dresser that are pushed up tight against the wall and in a corner? Do you vacuum the wall to wall carpet weekly? Do you wear shoes in the house?

Where to start? First, ask these basic questions:

1. What is the age of your home? Was it built before 1978?

2. Do you have or had mold in your home and/or work environments? (Bathroom- around the tub. May be black brown or pink.) Have you ever smelled or seen mold in your home or work environment? If so, where?

3. Do you feel better after being away from home? Especially when the windows are closed? Have you noticed that you feel better when away from your home? During the fall/winter/spring months?

4. What kinds of personal care and home cleaning products do you use? What kind of store bought cleaners and personal care products do you use?

If you have any questions about the health of your home environment, you can reach out to a fantastic local resource, the local chapter of the American Lung Association and schedule a Health Home Check Up. For more info click here

Another fantastic resource is The Environmental Working Group. On this site is lots of helpful information about the environment and the latest news on consumer products.

Improving the “Qi” of you home can powerfully impact the quality of your life. If you have questions or are looking for other resources to make improvements in your health or the health of your home, by all means get in touch with me!