Chinese Medical Herbology 102

In our last blog we looked at the general principles of Chinese herbal medicine and how taste and flavor altered the properties of our herbal interactions. In this blog we will take a look at the movement of herbs and how they enter the channels and organs.

The actions of ascending, descending, floating and sinking refer to the upward, downward, outward or inward direction in which herbs tend to move through the body. Ascending action means moving or carrying the qualities of the herb to the upper parts of the body, head, neck, upper torso, while descending means just the opposite. Floating action means moving outward or sending to the surface, whereas sinking means going inside or purging away.

Ascending or floating herbs have an upward and outward direction and are used for elevating Yang, the motive warming aspect of bio energy. These herbs also relieve exterior syndromes like colds and flu by means of diaphoresis or sweating. These herbs dispel superficial symptom of wind and cold and can induce vomit or resuscitation.

Descending and sinking herbs have downward and inward directed actions and are often used for clearing heat and settling the mind. These herbs also purge, promote micturation, remove dampness, check the exuberance of Yang and redirect the adverse flow of Qi to stop vomiting. Descending herbs can relieve cough and asthma, improve digestion to remove stagnant food, and for herbs with heavy properties can be used for tranquilizing the mind.

Herbs of the same flavor generally have similar actions, while herbs of different flavors usually have quite different actions.

Channel Tropism

Channel tropism refers to an herb’s selective therapeutic effects on a certain part of the body. An herb may exert specific therapeutic action and physiological changes in certain channels and their related viscera, but with little effects on the others. For instance, among the heat-clearing herbs, some may clear the heat only in the lung channel and organ or in the liver channel or in the heart channel, etc. Also, among the tonics, some strengthen the lung while others strengthen the spleen or the kidney. The theory of channel tropism is summed up through clinical practice but the basic understanding is crucial to understanding the dynamics of herbal medicine.

The channel tropism theory should be associated with the theories of the four properties and five flavors and actions of Ascending, Descending, Floating and Sinking of herbs. Different herbs acting on the same channel have different effects owing to their different properties but herbs with similar properties can be used in con

So among the many herbs that clear heat we want one that also softens and purges phlegm we want to choose herbs that also have the action of outward movement and are focused on the organ and channel of the lungs.

Herb Toxicity

 Some herbs are labeled as slightly toxic, toxic, extremely poisonous or deadly poisonous these indicate that the therapeutic dosage of those drugs approaches the toxic level or is already within range of a toxic dosage and an over-dosage may lead to a toxic reaction. The toxic identifier may also indicate that an herb may give rise to severe side effects within this therapeutic dosage. The prerequisite concern is always safety for poisonous herbs and the toxicity of poisonous herbs can be eliminated or lessened by means of processing, dispensing and preparation.

Attributes and Actions of Herbs

The eight therapeutic methods are to promote sweating (Han), induce vomiting (Tu), purge (Xia), harmonize (He), warm (Wen), clear (Qing), tonify (Bu) and reduce (Xiao).

In the application of herbs, rarely is a a single herb is used alone and most often two or more herbs are used together. Using one herb to treat the disease is called going alone, single effect or Dan Xing.

The combined application of two or more herbs are known as mutual reinforcement, mutual assistance, mutual restraint, mutual detoxification, mutual inhibition or incompatibility. These expressions are referred to as the seven features of combined herbs.

Mutual reinforcement (mutual accentuation, Xiang Xu) Herbs of similar characters and functions are used in coordination to strengthen their effects.

Mutual assistance (mutual enhancement, Xiang Shi). Herbs that are similar in certain aspects of their characters and functions can be used together, with one as the principle and the other as subsidiary, to help increase the effects of the principle.

Mutual restraint (mutual counteraction, Xiang Wei). When herbs are used in combination, the toxicity and side effects of one herb can be reduced or eliminated by the other.

Detoxification (suppression, Xiang Sha). One herb can lessen or remove the toxicity and side effects of the other.

Mutual inhibition (mutual antagonism, Xiang Wu). When two herbs are used together, they inhibit or check each other to weaken or even lose their original efficacy.

Mutual incompatibility (Xiang Fan). When two herbs are used in combination, toxicity or side effects may result.

When two or more herbs are needed, they are chosen carefully according to the conditions of the patient, and the characters and function of herbs.

Mutual reinforcement and Mutual assistance make herbs work in coordination and enhance their effects, and therefore, should be employed as much as possible. Mutual restraint and Mutual detoxification can reduce or eliminate toxicity and side effects of herbs, and therefore, can be considered when using poisonous herbs.

Mutual inhibition and Incompatibility will weaken efficacy of herbs, or make them lose their efficacy, or even give rise to toxicity and side effects, and therefore, should be avoided.

Atlantic Acupuncture’s goal is to provide education and therapeutic support for people who are interested in alternatives to conventional medical models and modalities. As part of our ongoing educational outreach we are publishing a series of articles on acupuncture, herbal medicine, meditation and Qigong to help our patients and friends develop a greater understanding of the dynamics of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

In our next segment we will look at four botanical formulas that cover a myriad of conditions and concerns.

Yours in good health,

Robert Kienitz, DTCM

Chinese Herbology 101

Atlantic Institute is the parent company of Atlantic Acupuncture, Earth Wind Botanicals and Prof. K Enterprises. Our goal is to provide education and therapeutic support for people who are interested in alternatives to conventional medical paradigms and modalities. As part of our ongoing educational outreach we are publishing a series of articles on acupuncture, herbal medicine, meditation and Qigong to help our patients and friends develop a greater understanding of the dynamics of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Herbal medicine is the primary foundation for the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Until very recently, little information was available to the Western world regarding the practice of this medicine that existed since prehistoric times in China. Archeological evidence demonstrates that at the dawn of Chinese history, before the second millennium BCE, The primary health care providers were Shamans (Wu). This is true for all cultures throughout the prehistoric world.

Among the first written medical works on this planet was the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic (Huang Di Nei Jing also known simply as the Inner Classic), compiled by unknown authors between 500 BCE and 100 CE, during the period of Chinese Spring-Autumn Fighting countries. Also known as the Warring States Period this was the time period during which formal Confucianism, Taoism, Medicine and other Philosophies appeared in standardized written form.

The Inner Classic is divided into two sections, Basic Questions (Su Wen) and Miraculous Pivot (Ling Su), Ling Su is also called the canon of Acupuncture.

Foundation of Materia Medica

The Divine Husbandman’s Classic of the Materia Medica (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing), also known as the Classic of the Materia Medica (Ben Cao) was the first written iteration of herbal research and the empirical processing of medicinal herbs. The Ben Cao was first developed to elucidate the secrets of longevity, primarily for the Imperial Court, and was compiled by unknown authors between 221 BCE and 200 CE.

The “great grandfather” of Herbal prescriptions was Zhang Zhong Jing; a  doctor in the Eastern Han dynasty (300 CE). His book Jin Kui Yao Lue (Synthesis of Prescriptions of Golden Chamber) contains 260 Herbal prescriptions. Prior to this time only single herbs were known to have been prescribed for illness.

The Ben Cao was a compilation of 361 medicinals that were mostly herbal in nature along with some animal and mineral sources. Medicines were classified by seven types, also called the seven forests. They were Jades and Stones, Herbs, Woods, Animals, Fruits, Vegetables and Cereals. Compare this number to contemporary volumes of the Materia Medica which list ten times as many medicinal substances all of which we loosely refer to as “herbs”.

General Principles

 Each herb has its own specific nature or character. The different natures of herbs are employed to treat diseases, rectify the hyperactivity or hypo activity of Yin or Yang, and help the body restore its health. The various natures and functions of these herbs concerning medical treatment include the herbs properties, flavors, actions (lifting, lowering, floating and sinking), channel tropism, toxicity, etc.

It needs to be understood that these principles of herbal medicines are true for Indian Ayurvedic herbs, European and North American herbs and any other herbs on the planet that can be used medicinally. The key is to use one’s knowledge of herbal medicines to decipher the nature, function and tropism of any herb, and translate that into the language of TCM.

Properties and Flavors of Herbs

 Properties and flavors are also known as the Four Qi and the Five Tastes. Every herb has its property and flavor. “Properties” or the Four Qi refers to the cold, hot, warm or cool nature of an herb. These properties of herbs are sorted out according to the different actions of the herbs on the human body and their therapeutic effects. For example, herbs which treat heat syndromes (Yang syndrome) have a cool or cold property, whereas herbs which treat cold syndromes (Yin syndrome) have warm or hot property.

Herbs of cold and cool natures and herbs of warm and hot natures are of opposite properties. A cold-natured herb is different from a cool-natured one only in degree, as is a warm-natured herb from a hot-natured herb. Herbal medicine is therefore allopathic medicine in that medicines are used to treat diseases that have the opposite nature. This is contrary to the concept of homeopathic medicine in which, for instance, a substance that produces fever like symptoms is used to treat febrile conditions.

“Flavors” or the Five Flavors of herbs are pungent, sweet, sour, bitter, salty, tasteless and astringent. Since sweet and tasteless usually correspond, and since sour and astringent herbs have the same effects, pungent, sweet, sour, bitter and salty tastes are the cardinal flavors and are known as five flavors.

The flavors don’t necessarily refer to the actual tastes of the herbs. Sometimes they are sorted out according to herbs actions as opposed to what the tongue actually tastes.

Pungent flavors disperse and circulate, and are for symptoms that are superficial or mild and tend to enter the lung. Herbs that are pungent in flavor have the effects of dispersing exo-pathogens from superficial aspects of the body and promoting the circulation of the vital energy and blood. Pungent herbs are usually used for the treatment of superficial and mild illness that are due to affection by exo-pathogens, stagnation of vital energy and blood stasis. Pungent herbs tend to have warm or hot natures.

Sweet flavors nourish and tonify or harmonize other drugs and relieve pain. Sweet flavor herbs typically enter the spleen and stomach. Herbs of sweet flavor have the effects of nourishing, replenishing, tonifying, or enriching the different organs or parts of the body, normalize the function of the stomach and spleen, harmonize the properties of different drugs and relieving spasm and pain. Sweet herbs tend to have warm natures.

Sour flavor herbs are astringent and usually enter the liver. Herbs of sour flavor have the effects of inducing astringency and arresting discharge. Sour herbs tend to have cool natures

Bitter flavor herbs clear heat, purge fire, correct the flow of Qi and enter the heart. Herbs of bitter flavor have the effects of clearing heat, purging fire, sending down the adverse flow of Qi to treat cough and vomiting, relaxing the bowels, eliminating dampness. Bitter herbs tend to have cold natures.

Salty flavor herbs purge, soften, and enter the kidney. Herbs of this taste have the effects of relieving constipation by purgation, and softening and resolving hard mass. Salty herbs tend to have cool to cold natures.

Tasteless or neutral flavor herbs eliminate damp and are for the urinary system. Neutral flavor have the effects of excreting dampness and inducing diuresis, and are commonly used for edema, disurea and others. This class of herbs is linked with sweet flavor herbs because they both focus on disharmonies related to the spleen and stomach. Neutral herbs tend to be slightly cool or warm in nature.

Astringent herbs are sour in nature. Herbs of this flavor have similar actions as those of sour flavor, are functionally interchangeable with them, and tend to have cool natures.

We mix and match the various flavors of herbs in order to provide a more complete therapeutic experience and to eliminate the potential for negative side effects. For instance, if we are using salty and bitter flavored herbs to relieve blockage due to an internal heat we would include in the formula some warming and moistening herbs to prevent the potential development of internal cold and dry causing constriction and blockage.

In our next segment we will look at the actions and “channel tropism” of herbal medicines.

Yours in good health,

Robert Kienitz, DTCM

So, Ya Wanna Live Forever?

While many are familiar with the herbs and acupuncture of traditional Chinese medicine, few understand the larger picture of what TCM is and how it came to be. There are several paths that have been taken in the development of this medicine, one path was and is to help an individual maintain good health and freedom from disease.

Another path is to ensure as long a healthy life as possible in order to develop the assets of the body mind toward a goal of spiritual and mental fulfillment. The goal of the Court Physicians throughout the history of China’s dynasties was to ensure the health of the emperor and the royal family but even more so to give the emperor the ability to remain strong and mentally bright throughout his long life.

Longevity and immortality were sought as a prize not simply to ensure a long dynastic reign, but also to promote the highest potential for the emperor.

Herbal medicine for the imperial court was largely the use of exotic herbs and minerals like jade, ginseng, cinnabar and antlers to create a state of “exceedingly good health” and long life.

But, why live so long?

The basic paradigm of our medicine is that from the food we eat and the water we drink, we collect sufficient nutrient to grow and nurture our physical body. The mechanism is that when we ingest food and drink it is sent to the stomach to be processed and subdivided, the pure usable substance is sent to the spleen for further processing and the mostly turbid matter is sent to the small intestine. At the spleen the pure usable substance is further processed and subdivided, the purer substance is sent on to the lungs while the more turbid matter is also sent to the small intestine.

In the small intestine the turbid substances are again processed and subdivided, the pure sent back up to the spleen and the turbid to the large intestine.

In the lungs the pure substance is again subdivided, pure fluid from pure substance. The pure fluid is transported by the lungs and “misted” throughout the body moistening the organs and tissues. The pure substance is alchemically mixed in the lungs with the clear air qi that we breathe and is transformed into blood.

The blood is carried by the heart to nourish the other organs and tissues. The blood, which is always replete in a healthy body, stores in the liver and some of that stored blood is transformed into qi, the warming and animating substance of the body. The motive functions of the qi move the blood and the blood, by nourishing the liver, creates more qi.

At this point the body is in harmony and all of the organs and tissues are suffused with qi and blood. If the diet and fluids that are taken in are of high quality and sufficient quantity any surplus of blood and qi will be stored in the kidneys and become jing or vital essence.

The kidneys store the jing essence like a battery stores electrical potential and when the jing itself becomes replete it is further transformed and rarified.

Through the combination of mind will, breathing techniques and physical movement the vital essence that is stored in the kidneys is transported up, through the spinal column to the “lucid orifice” i.e. the brain, where it becomes shen.

Mind will is the collective term for mental concentration and visualization, it is not enough to think a thing, one must also envision the thing. The most common way of thinking about this is a meditative mind but it is more than that because mind will asks the practitioner to see the process, of jing traveling up the spine for instance, in the mind’s eye.

Breathing techniques can be the regulated breathing of meditation but can also include the synchronized breathing of calisthenics or even running.

Physical movement is usually thought of in terms of Chinese yoga or dao yin, qigong and tai chi but so called external martial arts like kung fu and running can be used as the physical movement for this part of the triad of the movement of jing.

There are several types and kinds of shen which can refer to the complexion and general healthy demeanor of the body as well as the brightness in the eyes that shows us that “someone is home”.

Shen in its highest sense is consciousness and it is the natural inclination of human beings to expand their personal consciousness for the good of the self, the species and the environment.

Since ancient times the search for longevity foods, elixirs, exercises and spiritual practices has been to create a temporal platform in which the shen could thrive and the consciousness could grow to its fullest.

Atlantic Acupuncture offers herbal medicines like Brain Food and Strength & Stamina to encourage a state of “exceeding good health” and exercises and breathing techniques like Jade Dragon Qigong and Tai Chi. We also offer individualized programs for the enhancement of the body mind and the development of shen.

Yours in good health,

Robert Kienitz, DTCM


Cornell-China-Oxford Project

In the early 1980’s, nutritional biochemist Dr. T. Colin Campbell of Cornell University, in partnership with researchers at Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, embarked upon one of the most comprehensive nutritional studies ever undertaken known as the China Project.

China at that time presented researchers with a unique opportunity. The Chinese population tended to live in the same area all their lives and to consume similar diets unique to each region. Their diets (low in fat and high in dietary fiber and plant material) also were in stark contrast to the rich diets of Western countries. The truly plant-based nature of the rural Chinese diet gave researchers a chance to compare, among other things, plant-based diets with animal-based diets.

Sixty five counties in rural China were selected for the study and dietary, lifestyle and disease characteristics were studied. Within each of the 65 counties, 2 villages were selected and 50 families in each were randomly chosen. One adult from each household (half men and half women), 6,500 people aged 34-64, for the entire survey, participated. Blood, urine and food samples were obtained for later analysis, while questionnaire and dietary information was recorded. The same counties and individuals surveyed in 1983-84 were re-surveyed in 1989-90, with the addition of 20 new counties in mainland China and Taiwan, and 20 additional families per county, for a total of 10,200 adults and their families.

The Project compared the eating habits the Chinese with the same number of Americans and Britons. This is the largest study, of any kind, ever undertaken. Ninety percent of the Chinese subjects were provincials who ate locally and followed a traditional diet.

Some of the findings of this study were:

  • Rural Chinese consumed many more grains, vegetables and fruits than the average American or Briton.
  • Daily fiber intake for the rural Chinese was three times higher than the average American.
  • The average Chinese derived 6-24% of their daily calories from fat vs. 39% for Americans and 45% for Britons.
  • In most Chinese provinces in this study people ate meat only one time per week. In counties where meat consumption was higher, incidence of cardiovascular disease was proportionately higher.
  • Rural Chinese ate more total daily calories per pound of body weight than their American counterparts did but virtually no obesity was reported.
  • The average Chinese serum cholesterol level was 127 (milligrams per deciliter) vs. 212 in the U.S.
  • Rates for chronic degenerative disease were overall much higher in the U.S. than in rural China but, in the areas of China where more meat products were consumed, rates of chronic degenerative disease were also on the rise.
  • It was noted in the second phase of the study that many previous participants had relocated to urban areas of China and because of the prevalence of western dietary culture in those cities the incidence of heart disease and other degenerative diseases were increasing.

There are a lot of people who extrapolate from this research that we should all become vegetarians or vegans but there is nothing further from the truth.

The reality is that the theory of the Chinese dietary therapy has one simple axiom that guides the rest of the theory, “eat a little bit of everything and not too much of anything”. The theory holds that if one eats from a wide variety of foods, not over-consuming any one thing, the full range of dietary therapy is made available and there is little or no need for remedial supplementation like vitamins and minerals.

Foreign visitors I have known coming to America for the first time are startled and amazed by our grocery stores, it is mind boggling to them that in out produce sections one can purchases any fruit or vegetable, locally in season or not. You can get a pineapple 365 days a year, and at a reasonable price. The problem most of us have is that we do not make use of the vast richness our local groceries provide, we tend to eat very few of the same fruits and vegetables year in, year out and that mundane diet makes for an unhealthy body.

The most frequently asked question by patients in my Vero Beach practice is, “what diet I should follow?” My answer depends a lot on what your diet is like now. The main things to consider are the ratios of foods you are eating. This is also the simplest way to modify your diet because it may only require you to change the quantity of foods you are eating as opposed to the types of foods you are eating.

In your mouth there are four basic types of dentition or teeth that perform three basic functions, half the teeth in your mouth are of the premolar, incisor and molar variety. These teeth are most useful in masticating or chewing fibrous foods that are of the fruit and vegetable variety. The canines and incisors make up about one fourth of your dentition and are useful for ripping and tearing meat. The third group of teeth is; the premolar and molar variety that are useful for grinding grains, seeds and nuts. The three types of dentition overlap in function and make it possible for us to be what we are: omnivorous, that is, we can eat just about anything we can fit in our mouth.

Simple logic implies that if our dentition is structured so that half our teeth are for fruit and vegetable matter, one fourth for seed, nuts and grain and one fourth for meat, then we should be following that as our basic dietary pattern.

My advice is simple and straight forward, let half of your daily caloric intake come from fruits and vegetables, fresh is best, as is wide variety. Let one fourth of your daily caloric intake come from grains, seeds and nuts (breads and pastas are included in this category), and let one fourth of your daily caloric intake come from protein sources (which include meat, poultry, dairy and some legumes).

The next question you have should be, “what is my optimum daily caloric intake?” The answer is “who are you and what do you do?” If you are a large person, 180 – 220 pounds for instance, and you have a sedentary job and home life you may only really need 1200 – 1500 calories per day for simple maintenance. If you have the same body type but you work high steel all day and train for triathlons at night you may need upward of 3000 calories per day for maintenance. The Food and Drug Administration has touted a 2000 calorie a day diet across the board for everyone the last thirty years and we are a nation of obese people as a result of it.  The FDA has also promoted that two thirds of your 2000 calorie a day diet come from grain products and we are a nation of hypoglycemics as a result of it.

I advise you to ignore the food pyramid in favor of the food circle, and as your mother used to say, “Eat your vegetables!”

Yours in good health,

Robert Kienitz, DTCM


You are getting sleeepy…

An Mian means peaceful sleep and in the diagnosis of disease in Traditional Chinese Medicine one of the important facts we need to know is if one has peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. Of the top conditions we see at Atlantic Acupuncture, insomnia and other sleep issues are at the top of the list.

A good night’s sleep makes you feel energized and alert the next day. Being engaged and active feels great and increases your chances for another good night’s sleep. When you wake up feeling refreshed and use that energy to get out into the daylight, do active things, and engage with your world. You’ll sleep better the next night and increase your daily energy at all levels. But why is that?

The TCM explanation of sleep is that the shen (mind/spirit) is produced by an abundance of jing (essence) in the body that is the result of normal physiological processes. The jing is produced mainly in the kidney and is transported to the brain via the heart along regular meridian pathways. Sleep is the nocturnal travel of shen to the heart and the jing from the kidneys to the heart to restore and refresh the shen.

If the heart is not quiet the shen cannot abide there, if the heart is weak it cannot move the shen to the brain. If the body is malnourished there is no production of essence and if the brain is confounded by substances like alcohol and drugs including caffeine, nicotine and refined sugars the shen cannot settle and is not calm.

So the main reasons for insomnia and difficult sleep are weakness of the heart, improper diet and nourishment and the use of mind altering substances. All three of these causes are a response to stress.

When your body is sleep deprived, it goes further into a state of stress. The body’s functions are put on high alert, which causes an increase in blood pressure and the production of stress hormones. High blood pressure can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke, and the stress hormones make it harder to fall asleep. Learning relaxation techniques like meditation and Qigong can counteract the effects of stress and help you to fall asleep faster.

Increased stress hormones caused by lack of sleep also raise the overall level of inflammation in your body. This again can create a greater risk for heart-related pathologies, as well as cancer and diabetes. Inflammation in fact, is thought to be one of the chief causes of physical deterioration as we age.

Sleep also plays an important role in a process called memory consolidation. During sleep, your body may be resting, but your brain is busy processing your day, making connections between events, sensory input, feelings, and memories. Deep sleep (Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep) is a very important time for your brain to make memories and links, and getting more quality sleep will help you remember and process things better.

It has been found that people who sleep fewer than 7 hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese and it is thought that a lack of sleep impacts the balance of hormones in the body that affect appetite. The hormones ghrelin and leptin, which regulate appetite, have been found to be disrupted by lack of sleep. If you want to maintain or lose weight, don’t forget that getting adequate sleep on a regular basis is a huge part of the equation.

Sleep impacts many of the chemicals in your body, including serotonin. People with serotonin deficiencies are more likely to suffer from depression. You can help to prevent depression by making sure you are getting the right amount of sleep: between 7 and 9 hours each night.

Sleep is a time to relax, but it’s also a time during which the body is hard at work repairing damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays, and other harmful exposure. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping. These protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair the damage. Sleep is crucial for athletes because this is the prime time for tissue recovery.

Both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help in the recovery of proper sleep and one of the herbal medicines we have developed that helps most people with sleep disorders is Peace & Sleep. This formula contains herbs that act as precursors to the manufacture of serotonin and melatonin in your body. By helping your body create its own supply of these hormones you are assured of a proper balance that cannot be achieved by taking the raw hormones from and outside source. This use of precursor herbs is fundamental to how Chinese herbal medicine works.

Peace & Sleep is available at both our Vero Beach clinic and our online store.

Wishing you peaceful sleep for good health,

Robert Kienitz, DTCM

Tai Chi and Me…

When I was in high school I was not interested in football, baseball or basketball and when my biology teacher, who was also the coach for the school football team, asked me what I was interested in I told him sword fighting sounded pretty cool to me. Since the school did not offer swordsmanship as an elective sport he referred me to a friend of his who was part of a group of men who met regularly to practice sword and shield fighting with homemade armor and weapons. I took to this unusual sport as a duck to water, met with the group three evenings a week for several years for individual and group instruction. The thing I liked most about this strange sport was working out with men who desired from their training, among other things, a chance to manifest their personal “warrior’s code”. These men took me under their wing and tried to groom not only my sword skills but also my blossoming personal ethic.

After high school my interest in the sword led me to the college fencing team and I was advised by the fencing instructor that learning Judo would help me with my centering and stances on the piste or fencing strip. I loved Judo and even though I was in a very light weight class the matches against heavier opponents did teach me the value of very low stances which greatly improved my leg strength and my fencing form.

Immediately after college I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Hui Chen. Dr. Chen had been a medical herbalist in Taiwan and was an expert in Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong. He held classes at his home and depending on his work schedule we met two to three times per week. After years of tuition Dr. Chen deemed me fit to become an instructor myself and since then I have been teaching Tai Chi and various forms of Qigong at Colleges, Universities, Park and recreation facilities and martial arts centers around the US.

After my time with Dr. Chen I still yearned for the discipline, camaraderie and sport of the so called external martial arts and studied for many years achieving expert ranking in the Chinese arts of Yu Long Gong Fu, Chuan Fa, Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong. I also studied extensively the Japanese arts of Aikido, Judo and Iado (Japanese sword, back to my old friend the sword) and Korean Se Jong Taekwondo with Professor Randy Miskech, one of the greatest martial artists it has ever been my pleasure to know.

Over the forty year span of time from Dr. Chen to Professor Miskech, the matrix that held everything together was the daily practice of Tai Chi and Qigong. As I become older in years and wisdom, I recall the advice of Dr. Chen that as I age I should “put away the hard yang of the external arts in favor of the soft yin of the internal arts so that you can experience the bright yang of the spiritual arts”.

The matrix to the “bright yang” that I offer to you is the Jade Dragon. This is the one system of Qigong that I, as a physician and practitioner, can endorse for just about anybody regardless of his or her medical model. The system is so balanced that in the decades that I have been teaching and prescribing it to patients, I have never once had any negative feedback associated with it. It is also so easy to learn, that it is one of the few Qigong systems that can be taught via DVD. One to one instruction is best, and that goes for the Jade Dragon Qigong as well. But, the Jade Dragon DVD was developed by a doctor for his patients, and as such is quite unique in the realm Qigong DVD instruction.

The same is true of Jade Dragon Tai Chi, another component of the Jade Dragon family of internal martial arts. Both the Tai Chi and Qigong forms are available on the same DVD and were written and produced by myself. I make myself available for questions and critiques of your form via email or video and have had wide success with this manner of teaching.

The DVD and written manual are available for $40.00 which includes shipping and handling. I highly urge you to take advantage of this beautiful Qigong and Tai Chi system and I look forward to assisting in your learning experience.

Yours in Health,

Robert Kienitz, DTCM

Vero Beach, FL

Modern Oncology and Chinese Medicine

Oncology tells us that a cancer cell is an irregularly formed, rapidly regenerating type of mutant cell that can appear almost anywhere in the human body. Normally human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells age and weaken or are damaged they die and new cells take their place. When mutant cells develop this orderly process breaks down. As cells become more and more abnormal, old or damaged cells survive when they should not and new cells form when they are not needed. These mutant cells can divide continuously and may collect to form growths called tumors.

Cancer cells can move through the body along regular pathways, like the lymphatic system, in a process called metastasis. Metastatic cancer holds a similar molecular feature to the original cells so breast cancer that has metastasized to the lung is still breast cancer but now resides in the lung.

For a very long time the conventional wisdom in the biomedical treatment of cancer was some combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. That is, cut the tumor out, burn it, poison it or all three. Most recently, over the last twenty years, biomedicine has been exploring the potential of immunotherapy also known as biotherapy for cancer treatment. In biotherapy the subject’s immune system is enhanced using specific or broad spectrum protein antibodies like immunoglobulin either to enhance the body’s entire immune system or to focus an attack on particular types of cancer cells.

Your immune system is a collection of organs, special cells, and substances that help protect you from infections and other diseases. Immune cells like white blood cells, and the substances they make, travel through your body to protect it from germs that cause infections. They also help protect you from cancer, there are mutant cells forming in the body all the time and the immune system regularly purges them from our systems.

The immune system keeps track of all of the substances normally found in the body. Any newly introduced substance that the immune system doesn’t recognize triggers an immuno response, causing the immune system to attack it. For example, germs contain certain proteins that are not normally found in the human body. The immune system sees these as “foreign” and attacks them. The immune response can destroy anything containing the foreign substance, such as germs or cancer cells.

Another cutting edge concept in cancer therapy is starving cancer cells of certain amino acids like glutamine and even glucose, yes, that’s sugar. While the science of cancer cell starvation is just being looked at, we in traditional Chinese medicine have been using both the starvation of cancer sites well as the use of immunological enhancements for cancer disruption for quite some time.

Chinese medical literature suggests using herbal formulas that are also used for chronic viral diseases, i.e., biotherapy. Chronic viruses integrate into the DNA which must then be activated for a virus to express itself within the body.. Cancer cells similarly have a DNA segment that causes uncontrolled reproduction of cells that must also be activated to stimulate this growth. The Chinese anti cancer formulas use herb combinations that prevent the activation of dormant DNA strands that can cause the disease.

Chinese medicine has also been using herbs and formulas that break up what we refer to as stasis to reduce tumors, cysts and other unwanted growths for hundreds of years. Modern research in China is now showing that the herbs that break up the tumors are in fact introducing chemicals to the tumor that inhibit the uptake of certain key nutrients by the cancer cells, thus starving them and causing them to die off without subdividing.

Here in the Western world we usually offer traditional Chinese medicine as a support for more conventional cancer therapies. We are able to offset many of the debilitating side effects of chemo and radiation therapies and help people survive their cancer and flourish afterward. It is our hope here at Atlantic Acupuncture that more and more people will start to utilize the concepts of cutting edge oncology that have been used successfully by Chinese doctors for hundreds of years.

Yours in good health,

Robert Kienitz, DTCM

Atlantic Acupuncture of Vero Beach FL.

Golden Needles & Electric Qi

In the middle of the last century there was a Master Acupuncturist in China named Wang Le-Ting. Master Wang was renowned for many important accomplishments throughout his career and there have been several books written by and about him.

I came to know of Master Wang’s writings years ago through my Chinese professors and became fascinated by one of his key theories about the practice of acupuncture, that is, the “herbalization” of acupuncture.

Wang believed that just as herbal medicines have specific functions like clearing heat, draining damp and breaking through blood stasis, so too, specific acupuncture points had the same effects on the bioenergetic system. He went on to develop acupuncture formulas to match herbal formulas so that any given herbal formulas actions could be duplicated and reinforced by this system of acupuncture.

Take for instance the formula Si Jun Zi Tang also known as Four Gentlemen Decoction. This is a formula that tonifies the Qi and strengthens the primary digestion of the spleen and stomach. This base formula can be combined with other herbs to treat everything from hypothyroidism to eczema and irritable bowel syndrome to hepatitis.

The composition of the formula is:

Ren Shen Ginseng tonifies Qi and strengthens the spleen and stomach for primary digestion.

Bai Zhu Atractylodes strengthens the spleen, augments Qi and drains damp accumulations.

Fu Ling Poria dries damp accumulations and strengthens the spleen.

Zhi Gan Cao Glycyrrhizae harmonizes, warms and strengthens all of the organs of the middle torso.

In this formula we have two herbs that tonify Qi, four herbs that strengthen the spleen and stomach, two herbs that dry the damp accumulations that cause retardation of digestive function and one herb that warms the organs helping that part of the digestive function that relies on metabolic warmth.

Our acupuncture formula wants to follow the same functions as the herbs so we can choose two points that tonify the Qi like Qi Hai CV 6 and Tong Gu BL 66. We can also use points to fortify the spleen and supplement the middle organs like Di JI SP 8 and Gong Sun SP 4. We can choose two herbs that dry damp accumulations like Fu Liu KI 7 and San Yin Jiao ST 36. We also want to choose a point that will warm the intended organs like Yin Bai SP 1.

Using this method of selection we are able to duplicate all of the intended actions of the herbal formula Four Gentlemen Decoction with a matching acupuncture prescription except for one.

In our herbal formula we provide substances (Ginseng and Atractylodes), that actually create Qi in the body. In our acupuncture formula the points we use to tonify Qi actually do not add anything to the body, they encourage the tonification of Qi through normal organic functions. The needle themselves cannot add qi to the body except with the use of one thing, electric Qi.

If the concept of bio electricity had been known by the ancients it would have been one of the definitions of Qi. Further, I believe that the definitions of Qi that developed over time were in fact attempts to explain the electrochemical nature of the human body.

Electricity by definition is hot in nature and flows along regular pathways (circuits). Electricity animates (provides movement to machines and bio entities) and disperses if it is not contained. Electricity Illuminates, always seeks a ground (Yin) and moves with great speed. Electricity is matter without form and it transforms as in an electrochemical reactions. In TCM we know the nature of a thing by observation of its characteristics; the above is a clear definition of nothing other than Yang Qi.

By adding mild electrical stimulation to the points that we chose for augmenting the Qi we are actually adding Yang Qi to the body at those points. This completes the reproduction of our herbal formula, Four Gentlemen, with our acupuncture formula. They now match each other in every way.

The herbal medicine works on the body from the inside out exactly as the acupuncture works on the body from the outside in. This dynamic brings about a more timely and effective therapeutic response than either therapy alone.

If you are receiving herbal medicine and acupuncture from us at Atlantic Acupuncture of Vero Beach, this is the paradigm from which we work and one of the reasons for our incredible success with our clients and friends.

Yours in good health,

Robert Kienitz, DTCM

Placebos, Faith Healing and Modern Medicine

I began my studies of traditional Chinese medicine In the mid 1970’s, I was perusing an undergraduate degree while working part time as an animal handler at an equine veterinary clinic in Phoenix, Arizona.

Dr. Saum, the vet, had gone up to Vancouver BC to learn animal acupuncture from a famous Chinese doctor. When Doc returned he was so excited about acupuncture it was the only modality he wanted to use to treat the horses and other large animals we saw at the clinic.

One of my jobs was to take the horses from their trailers to the treatment stalls and “gentle” them with a brush or by caressing their muzzle with calming words and gentle songs while we waited for Doc. That was the best part of the job.

Because acupuncture was new to Doc and I was handy, he would talk to me about where each needle went, how deep and at what angle it should be inserted and all about what the Chinese said the needle would accomplish. I think by downloading the information so precisely to me he was keeping it straight in his own mind.

Once I overheard Doc and one of the cowboys whose horse we were treating talking about the placebo effect, the cowboy thought that was all there was to “this Chinese voodoo” that Doc was practicing. Doc asked the cowboy if he had had any conversations with his horse about acupuncture. The man said no. Doc asked me if I had been talking to the horse about the wonders of acupuncture and I said I hadn’t. Doc said as far as he knew the horse had no conception at all about the effects of acupuncture and had no personal opinion about medicine, Chinese or otherwise. “When I put a needle in a horse to make him eat, he eats. When I put a needle in to make him poop, he poops.” “There ain’t any placebo effect in animal acupuncture”.

Faith healing is modern Christianized term for shamanism. A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world that exists between the physical and that which is beyond our normal senses.

A Shaman is one who practices divination and healing using herbs, incantation, ritual and imagery. Archeological evidence demonstrates that at the dawn of Chinese history, before the second millennium BCE prior to the Shang dynasty the primary health care providers were Shamans (Wu). This is in fact true for all cultures throughout the prehistoric world.

In ancient times disease was thought to originate from one of two probable causes. Either one had done something to aggravate the harmony of one’s ancestors or one had been invaded by an evil immaterial entity. There were two clear courses of therapy for these disease causes; either the ancestor was placated through ritual and offerings or the evil entity was induced to leave the host using shock and fright with loud noises and flashes of light like fireworks in China. The shaman might also menace a possessed host with scary chants and sharp sticks or spears to drive the evil entity away. Some anthropologists believe that the sharp stick thing eventually may have eventually evolved into acupuncture.

The current healthcare debate has brought up basic questions about how modern medicine should work. On one hand we have the medical establishment with its enormous cadre of M.D.s, medical schools, big pharma, and incredibly expensive hospital care. On the other we have the barely tolerated field of alternative medicine that attracts millions of patients a year and embraces hundreds of treatment modalities not taught in conventional medical schools.

Conventional mainstream medicine promotes the notion that it alone should be considered medicine, but more and more this claim is being exposed as an officially sanctioned myth. When scientific minds turn to tackling the complex business of healing the sick, they simultaneously warn us that it’s dangerous and foolish to look at integrative medicine, complementary and alternative medicine, or indigenous medicine for answers. Because these other modalities are enormously popular, mainstream medicine has made a few grudging concessions to the placebo effect, natural herbal remedies, and acupuncture over the years. But M.D.s are still taught that other approaches are risky and inferior to their own training; they insist, year after year, that all we need are science-based procedures and the huge spectrum of drugs upon which modern medicine depends. Even the American Board of Medical Acupuncture an MD only organization, considers its members to be superior in the field of acupuncture with only 200 hours of training compared to the thousands of hours required by licensed acupuncturists. Their assertion is that their advanced knowledge of biomedicine fills in any gaps in their acupuncture training.

If a pill or surgery won’t do the trick, most patients are sent home to await their fate. There is an implied faith here that if a new drug manufacturer has paid for the research for FDA approval, then it is scientifically proven to be effective. As it turns out, this belief is by no means fully justified.

The British Medical Journal recently undertook an analysis of common medical treatments to determine which are supported by sufficient reliable scientific evidence. They evaluated around 2,500 treatments, and the results were as follows:

  • 13 percent were found to be beneficial
  • 23 percent were likely to be beneficial
  • Eight percent were as likely to be harmful as beneficial
  • Six percent were unlikely to be beneficial
  • Four percent were likely to be harmful or ineffective.

This left the largest category, 46 percent, as unknown in their effectiveness. In other words, when you take your sick child to the hospital or clinic, there is only a 36 percent chance that he will receive a treatment that has been scientifically demonstrated to be either beneficial or likely to be beneficial. This is remarkably similar to the results Dr. Brian Berman found in his analysis of completed Cochrane reviews of conventional medical practices. There, 38 percent of treatments were positive and 62 percent were negative or showed “no evidence of effect.”

For those who have been paying attention, this is not news. Back in the late 70’s the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment determined that a mere 10 to 20 percent of the practices and treatment used by physicians are scientifically validated. It’s sobering to compare this number to the chances that a patient will receive benefit due to the placebo effect, which is between 30 percent and 50 percent, according to various studies.

The news last fall that stents inserted in patients with heart disease to keep arteries open work no better than a placebo ought to be shocking. Each year, hundreds of thousands of American patients receive stents for the relief of chest pain, and the cost of the procedure ranges from $11,000 to $41,000 in US hospitals.

In 2002, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study demonstrating that a common knee operation, performed on millions of Americans who have osteoarthritis — an operation in which the surgeon removes damaged cartilage or bone (“arthroscopic debridement”) and then washes out any debris (“arthroscopic lavage”) — worked no better at relieving pain or improving function than a sham procedure. Those operations can go for $5,000 a shot.

One root of the problem is that the coalition in favor of evidence-based medicine is weak. It includes too few doctors, commands too little attention and energy from elected officials and advocates, and it is shot through with partisanship. Naturally, pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers wish to protect their profits, regardless of the comparative effectiveness of other treatments (or cost effectiveness) of what they are selling.

While virtually all doctors support evidence-based medicine in the abstract, clinicians and medical societies seek to maintain their professional and clinical autonomy. Physicians are sensitive to being second-guessed, even when their beliefs about how well treatments work are based on their own experiences and intuitions, not rigorous studies.

So, do we dump conventional mainstream medicine? Of course not, I do not propose that we give up the life saving drugs and procedures that are the wonder of modern medicine, but I do suggest that blind faith in allopathic medicine is as misguided as blind faith in alternative medicine. Further research is needed in both allopathic and alternative medicines but it is slow going because the expense of research is often prohibitive. If we were to bring the cold eye of science to every aspect of medicine, accepting and using only that which had been fully scientifically validated and proven, we would have very little medicine at all.

Yours in good health,

Robert Kienitz, DTCM

Atlantic Acupuncture

Vero Beach, FL

Playing with Pain?

Florida is the tennis capital of North America and Vero Beach is right in the heart of it all. Of all the sports injuries I see in the clinic the most common are related to tennis.

Did you know that 53% of amateur tennis players and 30% of professionals will play with an injured back this year? Tennis injuries can result from a combination of poor posture, lack of muscle flexibility and co-ordination and incorrect training regimens.

The most common tennis injuries occur in the lower back, knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, hands and wrists (is there anything left?).

The top ten tennis related injuries are;

  1. Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow
  2. Rotator Cuff Tendinopathies (pathology of the tendon)
  3. Patellar Tendinopathies
  4. Achilles Tendinopathies
  5. Stress Fractures
  6. Torn Cartilage
  7. Dislocations / Separations(often the shoulder)
  8. Sprains– (Torn ligaments)
  9. Achilles Tendon Rupture
  10. Strains– (Torn tendons)

Tennis injuries are generally defined as either cumulative (overuse) or acute (traumatic) injuries. The impact and stress of the repetitive motions both upper and lower body are sometimes hard on the muscles and joints, especially if you ignore the early warning signs of an injury such as; joint pain, tenderness, swelling, reduced range of motion, comparative weakness, numbness and tingling.

Of the top ten injuries that can occur when playing tennis, Acupuncture treats nine directly and very successfully. The fifth (stress fracture) can be treated indirectly by decreasing pain and healing time.

Acupuncture improves flexibility, circulation, balance & coordination which will help keep you injury free and helps reduce down time after any injury.

Acupuncture is safe, effective and works quickly. Most of the athletes I treat say that acupuncture also has the added benefit of helping to get them into that zone of mental clarity and relaxation that is so important to their game.

Whether you want to tune up your back, tune up your game or both, Acupuncture can help you arrive on the court pain free and playing like a pro.

Yours in good health,

Cindy & Robert Kienitz