Monthly Archives: July 2014

Case Study: Digestive Issues and Traditional Chinese Medicine

acupuncture for digestion st clair west forest hill torontoBW came to me complaining of intense pain in his stomach and also along the left underside of his ribcage (which, incidentally, is called the ‘hypochondriac region’; ‘hypochondrium’ derived from the Greek word for ‘abdomen’).  He said he had lost his appetite, and he was feeling very tired – pretty close to the point of exhaustion.  BW was in his early 60’s, and otherwise was in very good health.  He got plenty of exercise, he ate well, and he slept a good amount for a man his age.

His tongue looked pale to me, and it was slightly swollen with some redness on the sides and on the tip.  His pulse was soft, and a little slippery on the left side, but was soft and quite weak on the right side.

The one thing that may have attributed to BW’s complaint was the fact that he liked to eat out a lot.  Although he generally tried to eat healthy foods at the restaurants he frequented, the very fact that he did not cook his own food meant that he did not really know what he was consuming on a regular basis.  Restaurants often cook with lots of sugar, oils and even spices that may not agree with our systems.  This can cause what we call ‘Spleen imbalance’, and can lead to a blockage of what was likely either Qi or Dampness, or both.  I assumed Dampness as well as a small amount of Qi stagnation with BW because of the nature of his demeanour, as well as what I could sense in his pulse.  The suggestion of Qi stagnation and thus the involvement of his Liver (which governs the flow of Qi in our bodies) was mainly indicated in the pain in his hypochondriac region and not much elsewhere.

Treatment took only 3 sessions, although his symptoms probably could have been prevented altogether with proper diet.  BW was encouraged to start cooking at home more, or at least starting to inquire about the ingredients going into his food at the places he frequented.  He agreed that he would at least try the latter.

In addition to some acupuncture on his stomach area and his wrists, I also used a few points on his lower legs.  Then each time he came to see me over the next three weeks,  I prescribed 4-day prescriptions of a formula called Xiang Sha Yang Wei Tang (Nourish the Stomach Decoction with Aucklandia and Amomum).  This formula is generally used to increase one’s appetite, but is specific to a reduced appetite caused by Spleen Qi deficiency with some Dampness accumulation.

He was feeling much better after these three treatments, and to this date he has not complained of the same illness.

By Richard Lobbenberg, R.TCMP

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5 Common Cancer Risk Factors


Many risk factors for cancer are widely known.  You are probably already aware of the dangers of asbestos, sunlight, and tobacco.  But a couple of the following on this list might surprise you, if only at how common they are.

1. Don’t Paint it Black.  Over-cooking your food may not seem like such a big deal, but it can actually be something that can aggravate certain types of cancer.  Aside from destroying many of the important nutrients by cooking food for too long, studies show that high-temperature cooking can lead to cancers such as the colo-rectal variety.  If it’s safety you’re worried about, try buying higher quality, organic and/or farm-grown foods – this should help you avoid having to over-cook.

2. Use the Glass Ceiling.  Well, the glass everything, really.  A number of studies have shown quite conclusively that even at low levels, Bisphenol A (aka BPA, found in common plastics) can cause DNA damage and the development of precancerous lesions in the prostate glands of rats.  Try to not even store your food or drinks in plastic, let alone buy them that way.  Just imagine that no plastic, at any time, should go anywhere near your food.

3. Colour Yourself Natural.  There isn’t conclusive proof yet, but it’s been said to be ‘probable’ that certain hair dyes, chemicals and pigments are carcinogenic.  Erring on the side of caution, ask your hairdresser what they are using, and try to opt for the more natural choices when available.  And better yet, allow yourself to go natural a few months of the year if you can – you just might start a trend!

4. Do Drink the Kool-Aid.  Studies show that drinking more than one alcoholic drink per day increases your risk of developing breast cancer or liver cancer.  In fact, heavy drinkers (three or more drinks per day) have more than five times the chance of developing liver cancer than do light drinkers (up to one drink per day).  So cut back, or get help – there’s no shame in avoiding the ‘The Big C’.

5. Shift into Neutral.  Studies are now showing that those who work shift work, e.g. flight attendants and nurses, are at higher risk for developing cancer.  The reason?  Sleeping during the times you should really be awake affects your circadian rhythm, which in humans governs the appropriate release of hormones and also governs the control of temperature in our bodies.  Disrupt this natural cycle and you run the risk of damaging important genes, which in turn leads to the development of certain types of cancer, although scientists are still not sure how.  Stuck in the cycle?  Ask to be transferred to day shift only, or at the very least, bide your time until you find a job that can give you the hours you need.  And give acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine a try – it can help create the balance that your body will desperately need.

By Richard Lobbenberg, BSc BHSc DAc

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