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Qigong the Personal Resilience Multitool: Lung Health

Many of you are familiar with our Rock Solid Health Qigong video series and the tremendous health and wellness benefits to be derived from practicing these foundational Qigong techniques.  In the spirit of our upcoming Resilient Life Code unit on Internal Exercise, we’d like to take a moment to consider Qigong in a different light, as a specialised toolkit that can help you to achieve particular goals, both health and fitness related and in other areas of your life. 

Qigong is a term that encompasses the Chinese arts of internal exercise and energy cultivation in all their diversity.  Qigong is a collective project, having been developed, practiced and refined by Taoists, Buddhists, martial artists, healers, monks, generals and all orders of Chinese society.  It stands between meditation on the one hand and the martial arts on the other and is not entirely separate from either.  The basis of Qigong is the absorption, circulation and refinement of natural energy through the coordinated use of mind, body and spirit for the cultivation of all aspects, faculties and powers of the human being.

Qigong is extremely specialised and diverse.  It treats the physical body almost like an onion, strengthening it one layer at a time.  Fascia, muscles and tendons and major organs all receive their due attention through specific techniques.  The human energy system is likewise cultivated step by step.  Qigong’s biggest flaw is that there is far too much for any one person to master.

Nevertheless, there is another level of specialisation in Qigong that can be very helpful for your health and personal development goals.  Qigong has branches designed not only to maintain good health, but to heal illnesses and chronic conditions in yourself and others, to improve physical performance, to absorb energy from the environment, and to apply qi energy to the development of the spirit (shen).  It is here that you can really match your qigong to your personal resilience goals.  Here’s a look at a specific set of techniques for dealing with one set of health challenges.

(Note: Please seek the advice of a qualified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine before using specific medical Qigong techniques.)

 

Medical Qigong: The Lungs

Much of the world’s population suffers from asthma and other chronic lung diseases.  Qigong approaches lung health from several directions.  First of all, the lungs are included in the Inner Smile meditation, a practice for bringing positive qi to the different major organs, a version of which is shown in the video.  There are also specific breathing exercises for strengthening the lungs, qi circulation exercises, and specific attention and massage exercises for asthma.  Here are some basic exercises:

  • First Breathing Exercise: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, hands folded over your dantien (lower abdomen).  Press gently as you exhale and draw your abdomen in, bending your upper body forward.  Straighten and breathe in naturally.  Repeat three times.
  • Second Breathing Exercise: From the same position, lean back as far as you comfortably can and extend your arms slightly back while inhaling, expanding your lungs and contracting your abdomen as much as possible.  Hold your breath as long as you safely can.  Then return to an upright position and exhale through the mouth.
  • Asthma Focus Exercise: Be still in a sitting, standing or prone position.  Focus your attention on your zhichuan (“benefit asthma”) acupuncture points, located on either side of your spine on the narrowest line between your shoulder blades.  Focus for 20-30 minutes.

 

There are many other related exercises and approaches to lung health in the Chinese tradition.

Qigong is a diverse and multifaceted tool for your personal resilience and personal development, waiting to be explored.

 

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

~ Anthony S. Rodger, M.A.


A Global Resilience Attack on Asthma and Diabetes

Over the next few months, we will bring you a few quick breakdowns of alternative approaches for building your personal RESILIENCE in the face of  common health problems that millions of people are suffering from.  In this first edition, we emphasize the role of herbal medicine, showing where it fits in with other treatment approaches.  First, let’s review some of the fundamentals of building health and immunity.

 

Immunity and its Components

Herbal medicine is a subset of a subset of a total immune boosting regimen, and while it can affect and support each of the other levels by changing the chemical environment in your body, it cannot do the job alone, and is not supposed to.  The three levels of health and immunity are as follows:

 

Physical

This level includes “healthy living” as the Western world thinks of it, especially exercise and diet.  By exercising three to four times a week, you can promote cell and tissue repair mechanisms in your body, as well as increasing production of compounds that protect the nervous system as well as other critical compounds that support your immune system.   Improving your cardiovascular function, of course, is crucial.

 

Nutrition is the other aspect, and this means adjusting the building blocks and fuel your body takes in to support optimal health and the immune system.  This is where herbal medicine properly begins, as a subset of healthy diet, supporting your immune system prophylactically.

 

Psychological

As we wrote last week, psychoneural causes are at the root of a great deal of chronic disease.  If your emotional life is not in order, your immune system will begin to break down in the face of that unhealthy stress.

 

Energetic

We’ve written extensively on this one – human beings generate and maintain electromagnetic fields and transmit coherent, low-level light.  We can prove the energy system’s role in communicating between parts of the body – many actions that we can perform are done faster than nerve impulses can travel.  We also know that the energy system can be exercised and strengthened through Qigong, Haragei and other traditional methods.  It may also need to be cleared out – the energy system tends to accumulate blockages from trauma and emotional disorders.

 

 

Dietary and Herbal Immune Boosters

Hippocrates said, “Let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food.”  One of the best ways to prevent disease is to adjust the fuel your body lives on, and the best herbs for routine immune-boosting are ones that you can easily add as a component of a healthy diet.  Remember, the molecules you take in are the molecules that your body has to work with in maintaining optimal health, and that is where alternative medicine begins – in your kitchen.

 

We’ve written before (http://globalresiliencesolutions.com/vanquish-colds-and-flus-by-making-your-body-stronger, http://globalresiliencesolutions.com/category/alzheimers ) about diets that support the immune system, but to recap briefly:

–          Reduce animal products, especially the non-organic, non-hormone/antibiotic free kind

–          Eliminate crap – fructose, refined sugar, corn syrup (added to many foods), trans fats, high-sodium foods, processed and packaged foods

–          Balance Omega 3 and Omega 6 fat intakes – Omega 3 is the one you need more of

–          Eat high-quality fats from sources like avocados, butter, coconut oil, olives, olive oil, nuts and eggs

–          Reduce grain intake and eat only whole grains

–          Eat more raw fruits and vegetables to increase your vitamin and antioxidant intake

 

Herbs and spices used for centuries by herbal traditions which can be easily added to your diet or taken as supplements include:

 

Cinnamon– Used as an immune booster by many herbal traditions, and by Traditional Chinese Medicine to warm the body and improve blood and energy circulation

Turmeric–  Studies have shown that turmeric supports the body in fighting many diseases, including cancer, heart and lung diseases, neurological and autoimmune disorders.  It has beneficial effects on the signalling molecules your body uses for communication.  It is a good antifungal and antiparasitic and is used as a blood cleanser in Ayurvedic medicine.

Green Tea– Contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols and regulates blood sugar.

Garlic– Garlic is an antibacterial (as Louis Pasteur discovered) and antifungal, and the compounds it carries are effective in lowering blood pressure, blood sugar and serum cholesterol.  Together with onion and ginger, it is the basis for all Ayurvedic healing recipes.  Garlic is also a tonic for the endocrine system, which helps to regulate immune responses.

Licorice root– In Traditional Chinese Medicine, licorice is used to support other herbal remedies.  It also increases energy, helps to detoxify the liver, supports the adrenal glands and is good for the lungs and throat- hence its traditional use in fighting colds.  Like many of these herbs, it comprises many active compounds with different effects.

Ginger– Ginger is the king of digestion-supporting herbs, an immunostimulant, anti-inflammatory, and improves circulation in the joints.

Chilies– Chili peppers, and particularly cayenne, contain capsaicin, an anti-viral, as well as other useful compounds and Vitamin C.

Reishi and Shiitake Mushrooms– Key antivirals and immune boosters from the Asian pharmacopoeia.  Lentinin in Shiitake mushrooms stimulates T-cell production and effectiveness.

Astragalus– A powerful antiviral and immune booster used in Chinese medicine, can be bought in capsule form.

 

If you recognize many of these from the post on colds and flus, there’s a reason.  The beauty of herbal medicine is that immune-boosting herbs are good for many different applications.

 

Herbal and Alternative Approaches used for Specific Conditions

Here are two examples of common chronic conditions that have dramatically increased in incidence over the past few decades, the approaches taken to them in alternative medicine, and the herbs that can be used to support natural healing.

 

 

Asthma

There are a couple of alternative takes on asthma.  One is that it stems from primarily emotional causes.  It’s long been known that stress can trigger asthma attacks, but many alternative practitioners have begun to suspect that the cause may be emotional as well in many cases, particularly relating to feelings of emotional constriction.  The Emotional Freedom Technique, which draws on acupuncture knowledge to clear emotional blockages, has been reported to provide relief within moments to about 80% of asthma patients treated.

Vitamin D deficiency has also been strongly linked to asthma, and raising your vitamin D levels is an important part of treatment.

Equally important is relief from the chemical environment that may be causing allergic reactions- whether that’s the things in your house, ambient pollution or other factors.

Asthma has been treated successfully with acupuncture for centuries, and can be relieved by acupressure- tapping or holding pressure on the points.  The Benefit Asthma Point, a half-inch on either side of the prominent vertebra at the base of your neck, is particularly helpful.

Herbal approaches vary.  Ephedra, from whence ephedrine was derived, remains effective, and ginkgo biloba has been used by TCM to treat asthma for thousands of years.  Licorice supports the action of ephedra, regulates the adrenal glands, reduces inflammation and lubricates lung tissue.  Mullein has been used in Europe for centuries to support the lungs and respiratory system.  Lobelia is a Native North American treatment for asthma, taken in tea at the beginning of an attack to prevent the attack from escalating.

All of these herbs are used mainly to manage asthma; to alleviate the condition long-term, Traditional Chinese medicine claims that its “patent remedies”, notably Ping Chuan pills, can reduce or remove the symptoms of asthma over a course of treatment.

Vitamin C in whatever form is a natural antihistamine, and Vitamin E, Vitamin B, Selenium and Magnesium have all been used as dietary supplements for asthma.

 

 

 

Type 2 Diabetes

One in four Americans are either diabetic or pre-diabetic, and this disease massively exacerbates other health problems.  While the rarer Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s ability to produce insulin is destroyed, Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin and leptin, a signalling hormone which helps to regulate insulin production and other aspects of your energy intake and processing.

What you may not know is that dietary fructose is a major culprit.  Unlike glucose, which our bodies are designed to use for energy, fructose, which enters our diet through refined sugar and corn syrup added to many foods, breaks down into a number of toxins and does not stimulate the hormones that tell you that you’ve eaten enough or inhibit the hormones that tell you you’re still hungry.  It raises your insulin levels to the point where the body no longer responds to insulin, and chemically tricks the brain into starvation mode.

Unfortunately, most conventional treatments focus on reducing blood sugar, by boosting insulin or restoring insulin sensitivity, without addressing the root problems.  Exercise, a grain-free and fructose free, high-fibre diet, and restoring your intestinal flora with fermented foods are recommended by alternative practitioners to get your system back to its normal chemical state.  Counter-intuitively, a major key to this approach is including enough high-quality (especially Omega 3) fats in your diet.  If you’re burning fat for energy, your hunger will actually decrease, as will sugar cravings.

Herbal supports include green and black tea, which have been shown to reduce blood sugar and stimulate insulin production.  Guar gum and other fibre supplements soak up glucose molecules, causing sugar to be released more slowly into the bloodstream.  Goat’s rue and devil’s club are key herbs for managing blood sugar levels.  Ginko helps to address the circulatory problems of diabetes, while dandelion root supports digestion as well as the liver and pancreas.  Chinese patent remedies are also available to support the system and deal with secondary symptoms of diabetes.

Diabetics are often Vitamin C deficient, so this is another important supplement.  Everything we’ve said about immune boosting goes double for diabetics, who have a much lower resistance to other diseases.

You’ll also notice here that the same measures that you can use to treat a particular condition will also prevent you from getting it in the first place – not surprising!  Taking back control of your health is not rocket science; merely a combination of correct information and decisive action.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger




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