Curious About Alternative Treatments for Pain? Try These!

People are always asking what are the best alternative treatments for their pain conditions. Given the vast number of modalities available under the “alternative” label, it is no wonder people feel overwhelmed when trying to choose the best one for them.

In this article we’ll look at an overview of some of the best natural, non-invasive therapies for pain. They each have their own focus and methodology, and based on your specific signs and symptoms, the correct treatment for you should jump right off the page.

Massage Therapy: There are literally hundreds of styles of massage. Which one is best for you will depend on your comfort level. Standard massage is good, moves toxins through the body and is relaxing. But it often does not correct structural problems or offer enough correction in the range of motion. And, it is limited range of motion and inflammation that are causing pain.

It is a good idea to use the Internet to look for an individual trained in some of the more specific massage methodologies like deep tissue, neuromuscular technique, Thai massage and myofascial release. Any of these specialties offer much more in terms of somatic correction when combined with standard massage.

Qigong Therapy: Qigong is an ancient Chinese system of energy cultivation. Also called “breath work,” qigong exercises balance energy in the body through coordination of thought, breath and movement in specific actions. The nucleus of qigong is the exercise of consciousness and vital energy. Regular practice of qigong exercises aid in regulating the functions of the central nervous system. Along with exercising and controlling one’s mind and body, qigong influences one’s physical states and pathological conditions. There are both practitioner applied and individual self-regulating qigong methods.

If you are in serious pain and can find a reputable local practitioner, make an appointment. If not, there are good qigong instructional programs available. Look into them. By calming the nerves, regulating blood pressure, relaxing the muscles and slowing the mind, the body can relax, move more blood and release its tight muscle holds. Less pain is not far behind!

Polarity Therapy: Like qigong, polarity therapy also sees the human body as being comprised of “life energy.” However, polarity therapy takes the view that the energy body is in a state of constant “pulsation,” with positive and negative poles and a neutral position. These poles and position form a kind of energetic “template” along the body on which a practitioner can apply touch and pressure to alter the pulsations and derive pain relief and better general states of health.

While it shares common ideas with acupressure and qigong, polarity therapy is more aligned with Indian Ayurvedic medicine and modern osteopathic and chiropractic theories of the body. When people have gone through the complete series of acupuncture or qigong treatments recommended by their practitioner and have not found substantial relief, trying polarity therapy may be the next best modality to embrace. Often times, a person’s polarity (positive/negative energy poles) is reversed and one or more polarity sessions can correct this.

Acupressure and Acupuncture: All Chinese body-healing practices are based on the idea that energy flows through the body in channels called meridians that transport energy and life essence from organ to organ. Where there is low energy or fluid blockage there is pain and soon disease.

Acupressure is the non-invasive and non-needle offspring of acupuncture. Both work on the same theory, and in both cases, the practitioner will either “needle” or apply finger pressure to specific points on the body. Using a correct “prescription” of points, the practitioner can in effect change the energy in a patient, open their channels and help their energy move more freely. Again, when energy moves freely… there is no pain or disease.

Acupuncture and acupressure are both widely practiced today and worth looking into. They have been around for 5,000 years and have helped millions of people… not too shabby!

Hypnosis: There is nothing more powerful than teaching your brain how to control pain and encourage healing. There are many forms of hypnosis and in some states only licensed psychologists can perform hypnosis on patients. The basic idea of hypnosis is to switch off the ideas in the mind that prevent one from achieving set goals. And issues like, “I am always in pain” and “Nothing ever helps” are negative mantras that keep one’s mind and body locked in the pain cycle. The sooner these thoughts are released and replaced with positive ones, the faster the pain relief and recovery begin.

Look online and see what is available in your area, but be sure that “pain” is on the top of their list of specialties rather than hidden under a dozen other areas like smoking, anxiety, weight loss and others.

Herbal Medicine: Chinese herbs promote healing through the bloodstream and meridian complex by balancing organ energy. Over several thousand years of use with millions of patients, herbalists have derived specific "patent formulas" for nearly every health condition… including pain. These formulas contain an average of four-to-six different herbs each—some for stimulating blood, others for coating the stomach, others for pulling the herbals to lower parts of the body. These Chinese herbal remedies are not single-dose herbs for problems, like we see in the West. Many herbs are combined into each formula to provide a well-rounded method of stopping the symptom while at the same time balancing the body to keep it from returning.

Since there are many types of pain (e.g., tendonitis, bruising, flesh wounds, headache, etc.), there are many pain formulas. Having the correct diagnosis will go a long way to choosing the correct formula for your pain. An herbalist will tell you if merely calming the liver or boosting kidney function will relieve the pain over time, or if an actual analgesic pain formula is needed along with a blood-moving formula. Thus, it is advised that one see an actual herbalist before attempting to self-diagnose and prescribe herbs.

Inversion Therapy: Two thousand years ago the Greeks discovered that hanging upside down at various angles for various amounts of time helped citizens with back pain. And today, inversion therapy is helping millions of people with tight muscles, herniated discs and sciatica.

Relieving back pain is the primary reason for considering inversion therapy, as it gently creates space between the vertebrae, lengthens the spine, relieves nerve pressure and stretches tight back muscles.

In addition to pain relief, regularly inverting will help you avoid the "shrinkage" that naturally occurs as a result of gravity over a lifetime. It also improves circulation and lymphatic drainage because when you’re inverted, gravity helps blood to circulate and the lymphatic system to clear toxins faster, easing the aches and pains of stiff muscles.

Trigger Point Therapy: Trigger points, a type of muscle stiffness, are the result of tiny contraction knots that develop in muscle and tissue when an area of the body is injured or overworked. Everyone has trigger points; the question is to what degree.

If you have lingering pain, tightness or restriction of certain movements, it is a good bet that you are experiencing the affects of a trigger point. Massage therapy is usually insufficient when trigger points have a hold on your body and are the cause of your pain. What is needed for relief here is sufficient deep sustained pressure to the "knotted-up area." As the trigger point is worked out, your body will undergo soft tissue release, allowing for increased blood flow, a reduction in muscle spasm and the break-up of scar tissue. It will also help remove any build-up of toxic metabolic waste.

Trigger point therapy can be received at the hands of a manual therapist trained in its method. There are also good self-treatment trigger point systems that can work just as well, or better. With a self-treatment trigger point system, you can apply pressure to the trigger points several times per day until relief is found.

To begin exploring these modalities, do an online search and read the Wiki pages. Call local practitioners for a consultation. The more information you have the better you will be able to choose the right one.

—Dr. Mark Wiley

The Dirty Dozen: How 25 percent of Americans are Dying from the Food They Eat

Given our fast-paced, stressed-to-the-max lifestyle, it is no wonder that 25 percent of Americans eat at fast-food restaurants every day! That’s one in four people opting for low nutrition, high calorie, bad tasting, done-in-a-jiffy food. And it’s killing us.

Diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, fatty liver and high cholesterol are more prevalent in today’s high-tech health-conscience society than in the past, when we were ignorant about such things. And there’s truly no excuse for it!

One look at Eric Schlosser’s documentary, Fast Food Nation, tells the tale in all its devastating morbidity. Forget about E.coli and sub-standard working conditions and the tumors cut off the sides of beef before processing it for burgers done “your way.” Forget about the cheap toys restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King use to attract the kids, and by extension the family, in for a potentially life-shortening meal.

Let’s talk good health and stick to the facts. In terms of food, that means keeping a tight leash on calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium. And if we Americans are too tied to our fatty burgers and deep fried chicken, or we’re just too pressed for time and money to make the necessary change… then at least we can face the enemy armed with the truth about our fast-food indulgence.

I was in the process of researching the nutritional facts from 12 of the more popular chains when a copy of Aramark Corporation’s “Guide to Fast Food” came across my desk. In this little gem I found the “tale of the tape” on 20 of the country’s most popular fast food chains. Starbucks, too! And if you think eating at Subway is good for you because of that guy from the commercial… think again. And if you think chicken served in these restaurants is a better choice than beef… you’ve been misled.

Of the 20 fast food restaurants listed in the guide I’ve culled information from 12, and I call them “The Dirty Dozen.” Below are some tables based on the information published by Aramark, as provided by the franchises themselves, or found on their websites. I call these tables, “The Worst of the Worst” (i.e., things never to eat), and “The Best of the Worst” (i.e., things almost never to eat). I then list the worst and best from the selected Dirty Dozen, in terms of overall numbers of calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium.

The Worst of the Worst

 
Calories
Carbs (g)
Fat (g)
Cholesterol (mg)
Sodium (mg)
Baskin-Robbins Chocolate Shake
750
80
43
115
290
Boston Market 1/4 Dark Meat w/ Skin
320
2
21
180
460
Burger King BK Big Fish Sandwich
710
67
38
105
1110
Dairy Queen Grilled Chicken Filet Sandwich
310
30
10
50
1040
Domino’s Pepperoni Hand Tossed (2 SL)
448
55
18
38
776
Dunkin’ Donuts Blueberry Muffin
490
76
17
75
610
KFC Hot & Spicy Chicken Breast
505
23
29
162
1170
Krispy Kreme Glazed Devil’s Food Donut
390
41
24
5
250
McDonald’s  Biscuit w/ Bacon, Egg, Cheese
540
36
34
250
1550
Subway
6" Subway Club, Cold
294
40
5
30
1250
Taco Bell
Taco Salad w/ Salsa
850
65
52
60
1780
Wendy’s Big Bacon Classic
580
45
31
95
1500

 

The Best of the Worst

 
Calories
Carbs (g)
Fat (g)
Cholesterol (mg)
Sodium (mg)
Baskin-Robbins Ice Daiquiri Scoop
130
33
0
0
10
Boston Market Steamed Vegetables
35
7
0.05
0
35
Burger King Small Hash Browns
240
25
15
0
460
Dairy Queen Fudge Bar (No Sugar Added)
50
13
0
0
70
Domino’s Cheese hand Tossed (2 SL)
375
55
11
23
776
Dunkin’ Donuts Low-Fat Bran Muffin
260
59
2
0
440
KFC Mashed Potatoes w/ Gravy
120
17
6
0
440
Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Donut
210
18
16
40
800
McDonald’s Hash Browns
130
14
8
0
330
Subway Veggie Delight
200
37
2.5
0
500
Taco Bell
Taco
170
12
10
30
330
Wendy’s Small French Fries
270
35
13
0
85

 

The Worst and Best of the Worst

Highest Calories 890Pizza Hut—Medium Stuffed Crust Cheese Pizza (2 slices)
Lowest Calories 35Boston Market—Steamed Veggies
Highest Carbohydrates (g) 0Pizza Hut—Medium Cheese Stuffed-Crust Pizza (2 slices)
Lowest Carbohydrates (g) 0Boston Market—1/4 White Meat, No skin, Without Wing
Highest Fat (g) 52Taco Bell—Taco Salad w/ Salsa
Lowest Fat (g) 0Baskin Robbins—Ice Daiquiri, Regular Scoup
Highest Cholesterol (mg) 250Burger King—Croissan’wich w/ Sausage, Egg, Cheese
Highest Cholesterol (mg) 250McDonald’s—Biscuit w/ Bacon, Egg, Cheese
Lowest Cholesterol (mg) 0Plenty of items with no Cholesterol, such as plain baked potato, steamed veggies, salads without dressing, water
Highest Sodium (mg) 2,180Pizza Hut—Medium Stuffed Crust Cheese Pizza (2 slices)
Lowest Sodium (mg) 10Baskin Robbins—Ice Daiquiri, Regular Scoop

 

And the big looser is… Pizza Hut. It ranked No. 1 on three of the Worst of the Worst lists. And that’s no great achievement!

Ok, so now you know that what seemed “good” (e.g., chicken, turkey, fish) is actually bad when prepared the fast food way, in terms of calories, fat, carbohydrates, cholesterol and sodium content. And you also know that what these chains serve up as “good for you” food is as boring as a collection of ballpoint pen tops. But you’ve just got to eat fast food because time and money are rooting for the dark side. So where does that leave us…

Well, here are some tips, if you absolutely MUST eat fast food:

  1. Go for the salads, veggies, potatoes (no sour cream or bacon)
  2. Broiled is better than fried
  3. Never eat anything breaded
  4. Deep fried is out of the question
  5. Water is the only drink for you
  6. Hold the salt, there’s plenty already in there
  7. No desert, thank you.

But the real issue here is being responsible and taking control of your own health and wellness… and by extension, your longevity. How about working on time management and money allocation? How about preparing your lunch the night before and brown bagging it a couple days a week? Then, with the money you’ve saved on food, and the time you’ve saved going to the death chain, you can treat yourself to a better-for-you meal at a nicer restaurant with more choices.

In the end, the fast food restaurants and the doctors you’ll see for your cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and cancer don’t give a damn about you. It’s only you and the ones that love you who care. And if you don’t care enough about yourself, then how about taking care of No. 1 for the people who love you?

So it’s time again to eat and a decision is eminent. You can easily choose the fast food road to death. Or you can make the lifestyle change necessary to extend yourself a healthy and happy life. It’s your choice.

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Vigorous Exercise Increases Risk of Heart Disease

In my search for the best in holistic medicine I have traveled the globe and spent time with healers of all types: shamans, psychic surgeons, qigong masters, faith healers, herbalists, bone setters… you name it.

While studying a method of qigong known as zhan zhuang (pile standing) in Asia, my teacher told me something very strange. He said: “This qigong exercises forces you to stand still and not move for a long time. Because of this, your energy will increase, your body will warm, and your muscles will strengthen. But you will not damage your joints from excessive movement, nor tax your heart through robust movement, nor damage the lungs through too rapid respiration.”

I have to say that I had trouble swallowing this last part and for the past 15 years I have been trying to reason out in my mind: why not increase heart rate and respiration? After all, isn’t the entire fitness industry in the Western world based on elevating heart rate, increasing lung capacity and burning calories from sweating and muscle strength development? Well, like with so many other things, it looks like the ancient Chinese knew what they were talking about.

Recent research coming out of New York University Medical Center suggests that the more often one engages in vigorous exercise the greater their risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF). AF is a condition characterized by irregular, rapid heart rate, which affects people in many ways from simple fainting to heart failure and stroke.

But isn’t this always the way? First something is bad for you, then good for you, then bad for you again. Don’t raise the heart rate doing vigorous exercise, said the ancient Daoist masters. Train hard and break a sweat and elevate the heart, said the masters of sport science. Sweating and elevated heart rate lead to heart disease, now say the academics—but with more tangible and less metaphoric examples for the whys of it.

Odd thing is; there are always two sides to every coin. It’s not always so easy as good vs. bad, but the degree of good vs. bad on a continuum depending on who you are and where your health condition is. For relatively healthy people with no serious biological health issues, exercise has been proven time and again to balance the body and stave off potentially life-threatening diseases, like obesity and diabetes. However, if on the other hand you do have unrecognized heart disease, then exercise may cause you to die from sudden heart attack. And the leading cause of exercise-related death among high-level athletes is coronary heart disease!

Before you decide that you do or don’t have heart disease, there’s more to the study that is important for you to know. In the study there were exercise and non-exercise groups. Men who exercised long or hard enough to break a sweat five to seven days per week actually increased their chances of developing AF by an enormous 20 percent! And the non-exercise control group? No increase in their propensity for AF.

The big surprise is this: the participants who were in the “break a sweat” group were deemed to be “healthy,” and made up of men under the age of 50 who run on a regular basis. Common sense would say the opposite results should be the case. But no, the study clearly shows that the incidence of atrial fibrillation in men who jog increased by a massive 50 percent! And it was up by 74 percent in young men who break a sweat on a regular basis!

By now you may be worried about your own condition. However, it seems that AF is common and even expected in so-called healthy athletes. This is the case because cardiomegaly (enlargement of the heart) is so common in athletes that doctors don’t even tell athletes they have a condition that can lead to heart disease. Yes, in normal, non-athletic people, if their electrocardiograms showed these same signs the docs would be very concerned and let them know.

The long and short is this: the essence of the study indicates that breaking a sweat on a regular basis is bad for your heart. And history shows that marathoners and other top athletes die at a young age as a result of heart disease. And in China, where tai chi and qigong are practiced by millions, the rate of heart disease and young heart-related deaths is among the world’s lowest.

No wonder slow-burn exercises like walking, yoga, tai chi and qigong are considered as the safest and most effective exercises around the world. And the world is a whole lot bigger than the “experts” in the United States that get all the press.

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Bad Research or Media Lies? The Problem with Conflicting Health Information

We don’t know why, but poor health information surrounds us everywhere. Some of it is just down right lies. And the general public has no way of knowing if what they hear, read or see is authentic or bogus.

Is it the media sensationalizing information for a “compelling story?” Is it government agencies in cahoots with some industry looking to quash the competition? What if it’s the companies themselves misrepresenting their goods? Then again, it could be simple ignorance.

I’d like to share an item with you that recently came to my attention. A patient of mine told me about an article on acupuncture she had read in a major newspaper. She said that the article was positive toward acupuncture and mentioned that it is very effective for certain diseases. It also noted that acupuncture was being taken seriously by physicians of Western medicine—and many were now studying it. So far, so good.

But the article went on to say that given the trials conducted by these M.D.s, the only thing important to acupuncture was the insertion of the needles—anywhere on the body! So according to their reports, patients got better by mere virtue of a needle or needles being inserted into their bodies at random locations.

Ridiculous!

This is not the first time I have heard such claims made by physicians trying to dismiss 3,000 years of Chinese medical history, case studies and theory. It’s their way of saying Chinese medicine is not only childlike but its efficacy is based solely on the placebo effect.  This was the understanding I walked away with years ago after seeing a documentary on the subject hosted by Alan Alda.

In this documentary, a physician treated a patient with an illness using a single acupuncture point. The patient felt better. The next week the same patient was treated using a different acupuncture point. Again, the patient felt better. And I remember thinking, “Of course the patient feels better. Both points selected are indicated for her problem.” But the show’s message was: acupuncture must work on the placebo principle since both points worked.

The theory of Chinese medicine is based on relationships in the body between organs, fluids, oxygen, thoughts, etc. And since there are many causes for any given disease and many associated signs and symptoms, to be truly effective the acupuncturist must select acu-points that address not only the main problem, but also the symptoms and secondary problems.

Thus, one could use the “horary” acu-point for that time—the point in the body holding the most qi (energy) for the current time period. Or, they could select the “master point” for the particular problem. Or a combination of points on different meridian channels to make an energetic current in the body. And so on.

So we practitioners say, “Of course many points work for any given illness. They are supposed to! But to get rid of the problem or alleviate the pain for the long term, the correct points must be selected and sequenced. Otherwise, acupuncture becomes a symptom-chasing method of masking problems in the short term. And this is not its domain.

Furthermore, the idea that a needle inserted into the body at any location and at any depth will heal the body is ludicrous. And here’s why.

Acupuncture is a science based on understanding etiology and pathogenesis of disease and the flow of qi (vital energy) in meridians (pathways) and specific location of points on those meridians. Proper depth of needle insertion must also be mastered as well as precise location of insertion. If the needle misses the exact location of an acu-point, the patient will not experience the “arrival of qi.” With no arrival of qi, there is no curative effect. If you miss the point but stay on the actual meridian channel, you will still receive an effect, but not as strongly as if you were to hit the point and channel concurrently. If you insert the needle too far you can puncture an organ or artery. If too shallow, you miss the channel and fail to activate the energy.

This theory and energy anatomy is so important that students of Chinese medicine spend years memorizing and training to locate point accurately, to needle them precisely. Moreover, acupuncturists become intimately familiar with several hundred different points, their effective uses en solo and in combination with others, and their contraindications. If these practices are not adhered to, patients would either fail to get better or they could get much worse.

And so the idea of inserting needles into the body at random to cure any illness or disease is pure fantasy. I’ve had patients tell me they went to another practitioner for their sinus problems, but felt no different after a dozen treatments. After one of my treatments, their sinuses were already draining. They ask me how this is possible when the same points were used by both of us. The answer: the former practitioner missed the points, even by a fraction in any direction, or by incorrect depth of needle insertion.

Acupuncture points are each named and numbered and indicated for specific problems. This is based on thousands of years of clinical experience and millions of case studies. And any acupuncturist will tell you that using points for stomachache will not help neuropathy; that points for acne will not help knee pain.

Thus, inserting needles at random locations to cure anything and everything becomes a non-issue. It is simply a false statement. If it was true, and I wish it were, then everyone who ever went to an acupuncturist would already be cured of all of their health problems. And each time you got a splinter, your body would suddenly be free of disease. For every bee sting, you would have one less arthritic joint.

So we are left with the problem of the media presenting to the public information on health that is bogus, misinformed and potentially hazardous. But is it the fault of the media to sensationalize a story by making it bipartisan? Or is the establishment offering the information and queering it for their benefit?

While the public has no real way of knowing, it is probably safe to assume both parties are at fault. In the end we can only take responsibility for our own health decisions. So if you are considering trying something for your health that is out of the mainstream, do as much research as you can, visit centers, talk to other patients, interview practitioners. Don’t rely on reports by opposing organizations or sensationalized media presentations. They’re only looking to push an agenda or make ratings.

Dr. Mark Wiley

Ancient Fighter of Rheumatoid Arthritis!

Each year, more than 2 million Americans suffer excruciating pain from inflamed and swollen joints, crippled hands that can’t hold a glass and even complete loss of some of their joints. The cause: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). And within five years, 7 percent of these RA sufferers will be seriously disabled­­—and those are the ones who are currently on doctor-prescribed prescription drug therapy.

RA is a “systemic” disease. Simply put, it affects the whole body. Besides the tissues around the joints, RA also affects the glands of the eyes and mouth, the lining of the lungs and the pericardium (the protective area around the heart). It can reduce both red and white blood cell count, which lowers a person’s immune response to viruses and infections. Rheumatoid nodules (hard lumps) can appear around the elbows and fingers, frequently becoming infected. And the most serious complication is blood vessel inflammation, or vasculitis­­—impairment of the blood supply to the tissues, which leads to tissue death.

The traditional course of treatment has been a mixture of rest, exercise and a two-pronged drug therapy attack. While no one would dispute the benefits of relaxation and exercise, the drugs used to treat RA have serious side affects—possibly even death. And the sad fact is they do not even cure the disease! At best, the drugs can mask an RA victim’s pain or slow the disease’s progress. And even at that, they are not 100 percent effective.

Worldwide research toward finding the cause and cure for RA is very active. And at last the hard work appears to be paying off. Scientists at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) carried out two impressive studies. The first shows that a cup of tea—specifically green tea—not only reduces the severity of RA but also, in some cases, prevents it all together! The second study offers even more promising hope as to the healing power of green tea for RA sufferers.

RA is non-discriminating as to whom it affects. Yet research is finding ethnic background and race do play a part in progression and outcome. It is likely, however, that this is due to societal factors rather than biological ones. RA is more prevalent in women than in men. Approximately three times as many women will suffer from this life-robbing disease than men. Any age group can be affected, but onset is usually around 40 to 60 years of age. There is a form of RA called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis which usually affects children under the age of 16.

The truly sinister aspect of this disease is the extreme difficulty in diagnosing it. There isn’t one test that doctors can use to determine if someone has RA. Nor do all cases display the same set of symptoms. There are cases (approximately 10 percent) where the patient has an immediate initial flare up. Usually, though, the progress of RA is slow and insidious. So when the person is finally diagnosed, she can have already suffered irreparable damage.

With the findings now coming out of CWRU, this agony may soon be a thing of the past. What has already been proven to combat cancer is now showing it can do the same for RA. Next to water, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world. And if that tea is green, it might possibly save your life, which is a far cry better than damaging your body with synthetic drugs.

Toxicity of Bio-Med Treatments

The usual prescription for a patient diagnosed with RA is bed rest and a regulated exercise program. But the mainstay of treatment is a two-tiered drug therapy. The first tier consists of what is known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These range from common over-the-counter analgesics—pain medications like aspirin and Bufferin®—to similar prescribed drugs which do nothing but lower the level of pain. Meanwhile, the person’s body is still slowly crumbling away.

Once the cornerstone of RA therapy, NSAID usage is declining because these drugs have been found to be more toxic than once believed. A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center found that some of the new NSAIDs just recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) might increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other harmful cardiovascular problems! Additionally, almost all NSAIDs can cause serious gastrointestinal side effects—including ulceration, bleeding and perforation—at any time and without warning.

Second-line drugs are called disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These drugs actually address some of the causes of arthritic pain, such as inflammation and swelling. The belief is that their use may help prevent any further damage to the joints. But the price RA victims pay for this “cure” can be very high.

Among the least harmful side effects of the more commonly prescribed drug, Methodtrexate®, are headaches, upset stomach, loss of appetite and mouth sores. More dangerous is the drug’s potential to reduce the patient’s white and red blood cell counts and even to cause kidney damage! Cytoxan®, another commonly used DMARD, can increase the risk of developing leukemia and bladder cancer and can cause temporary or permanent sterility in both men and women!

From the work being conducted at CWRU and other laboratories, scientists are now learning that they don’t have to use a sledgehammer to knock out RA and that something as gentle and soothing as a cup of green tea can do the job nicely.

Nature’s Healing Bush

It’s old news that green tea has natural medicinal qualities. In 1211 A.D., the Buddhist monk Eisai wrote about the healing wonder of green tea in his book, Maintaining Health by Drinking Tea. Green tea, like all true tea, comes from the leaves of the camellia sinensis tree. And 90 percent of the world’s supply of tea is still produced in China.

What makes green tea so powerful is a chemical compound called polyphenol, which occurs naturally in plants and works as an antioxidant. Polyphenols work to protect the body from the oxidative stress that causes diseases. Specifically, the polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is an extremely powerful antioxidant. In fact, EGCG antioxidant activity is more powerful than the antioxidants found in vitamins C and E.

After 15 years of working with green tea in his cancer research, Dr. Hasan Mukhtar started looking at the possible benefits this drink could have for people with RA. Realizing that both disorders were inflammatory in nature, his team began testing to see if green tea would have the same healing affect on RA as it does on cancer and cardiovascular disease.

His first paper, Prevention of Collagen-Induced Arthritis in Mice by a Polyphenolic Fraction of Green Tea, was presented to the National Academy of Sciences in April 2005. The results were astounding. Out of the 18 mice that were given green tea extract, 10 never developed any arthritic symptoms and symptoms in the remaining eight were a much milder form of arthritis. The amount of green tea given was the equivalent of drinking four cups a day. Lead author of the paper, Dr. Tariq M. Haqqi said, “Taken together, our studies suggest that a polyphenolic fraction from green tea that is rich in antioxidants may be useful in the prevention and onset and severity of arthritis.”

Three independent and controlled experiments were conducted. Using a widely accepted animal model that is very similar to RA, the mice were injected with collagen to induce arthritis. Two groups were studied for 40 days, while a third was examined for 85 days to verify that the green tea did not simply delay the onset of the disease.

Green tea, unlike the more widely used black version, is not fermented. Instead of crushing the tea leaves, thereby removing the polyphenols, green tea is first dried, and then heated. One teaspoon steeped in hot (not boiling) water contains anywhere from 100 to 200mg of EGCG. Milk should not be added, as it negates the tea’s beneficial properties. According to this study and others that were done for other diseases, two to four cups a day is usually recommended.

In a second study, researchers found further evidence that green tea is a powerful tool in the fight against RA. They discovered that the polyphenol ECGC could protect human articular chondrocytes from being destroyed in what is known as apoptosis, or cell suicide. These chondrocytes are cells that are responsible for releasing cartilage, the very thing that RA attacks. Dr. Haqqi said this exciting discovery, coupled with their earlier study, offers RA patients new hope. Though the existing damage RA may have caused will not be repaired, it seems green tea will aid in halting any further progress. And by sipping several cups of green tea every day, those who are genetically predisposed to RA may never have to suffer from its disastrous effects.

Human trials are currently being developed. In the meantime, however, Mukhtar and Haqqi both strongly encourage people to start drinking green tea. Nobody has shown any form of toxicity associated with tea, and with the tremendous amount of data showing its many beneficial qualities, it is a wise and wholesome preventive measure.

Yours in self-directed wellness,

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Is Non-Compliance Keeping You Sick?

It’s an all too common story. People suffer from long-term pain and illness, so they go see a doctor or healer for help and then expect the problem to somehow magically disappear without substantial effort on their part.

The problem is most health issues—especially chronic ones—almost always demand time and patient effort to correct. Some of you may disagree, as one of my patients did (let’s call her Laura).

Laura was excited about the migraine program I put her on and was garnering results for the first two weeks. Then she started to slip back to her old symptoms. I asked her if she was doing what I asked of her, every day. She said that no, her schedule did not permit her to do everything I asked. I told her we are partners in her health. I am the director and she is the doer. She disagreed. Here’s how part of the conversation went.

“As a healer, Laura, it is my job to educate you about your health concerns. It is my job to instruct you as to how lifestyle modifications including diet, exercise, sleep, thoughts and work habits can affect your health for better or worse. It is my job to do whatever I can manually to your body and energy to assist in the healing process.

“However, it is your job to help yourself. Eighty percent of this corrective effort and healing process is in your hands. You are responsible on a daily basis for doing what needs to be done to change your cycle of pain into a cycle of wellness.”

Her reply: “I disagree with you, Dr. Wiley! How can you expect a patient who is in pain to be able to do what you ask? We come to you for help, and we expect you to make us better. It is your job, not ours.”

Wow! Her last comment leads me to the point of this article. Non-compliance is not only a big issue, for some it is also a symptom.

When you are dealing with powerful pharma drugs, generally your pain or ill health symptom will go away as long as you take the meds. The pain or rash or high blood pressure may return, but if you take another pill, it again will disappear. And since it shows faster results, you would think that patient compliance with Western medicine should be better than that of alternative therapies. The opposite is true. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that billions of dollars per year are lost in the health industry due to patients not filling their prescriptions.

They couldn’t even make a trip to the pharmacy! No wonder they don’t exercise, meditate or attend all of their acupuncture or chiropractic visits. Yet for those individuals seeking alternative therapies for their health concerns, compliance plays an even more central role.

For starters, remember that the money you spend may be your own. Most alternative practitioners do not (or cannot) accept insurance. So patient compliance involves hard-earned out-of-pocket cash being spent on treatment, herbs, supplements, gym memberships, personal trainers, life coaches and so on.

What’s more, most alternative practices view the body as a whole system and, as such, bringing the body back to wellness, back to wholeness, requires a synergistic approach. And this approach includes hands-on treatments—be they massage, acupuncture or Rolfing®—and also modifications of daily lifestyle and activities, as well as diet and herbal or supplemental requirements, and the carrying out of mind and/or body exercises.

One would think the person choosing natural methods of correcting imbalances in the body is ready and willing to do whatever they need to carry out the wellness protocol. But unfortunately, this is not always the case. 

I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times patients have said to me, “I’ve tried everything, and no one can help me. I did acupuncture a few times, and it didn’t work. I changed my diet, and that didn’t work…” etc. Yet after questioning, I find that they only attended three acupuncture treatments when the course of treatment was a minimum of 10. And that they “watched” their diet and decided they could just eat what they wanted “within reason,” when in fact the dietitian was clear that specific foods must be avoided and others should be added.

If you are not willing or able to carry out the directed healing approach, then how can you expect to get better from that approach?

If a patient requires a strengthening of their core muscles (abdomen, hips, low back) and are also told that they absolutely must refrain from drinking caffeine and consuming dairy products, they must do it. There is nothing in the world any healer can do to make this happen for them.

When chronic back pain is due to weak muscles or a muscle imbalance, it is only the patient who can strengthen those muscles. If too much caffeine in the diet causes headaches, it is the patient alone who must remove that substance from her diet. It is not ok to have just "that one cup" in the morning and to skip the gym when you don’t feel up to it. It’s causing your pain and making you sick!

It couldn’t possibly be more obvious. Many health problems are partly (and often mostly) self-induced. This means that people cause their own problems, or at least aggravate them or do things to prevent them from being corrected. 

So I’m afraid I found it difficult to sympathize with Laura. She refused to do what was asked of her for her own benefit, yet complained she was not seeing the results she expected, despite the fact, for the first few weeks, she did most of what was asked of her and had experienced definite relief.

With this in mind, I have learned to ask patients a new question when I conduct their initial examination: “Will you do what is asked of you to help yourself correct your problem?” If not, then non-compliance becomes one of the symptoms I try to correct—mostly through patient education.

In closing, let me offer this advice to people seeking alternative therapies. If you are willing to try something different, then be just as willing to take personal responsibility for your own health and wellness to carry it out. When you are instructed to do certain things, please do them. If you don’t take the advice of the wellness practitioner how can you expect your health to improve? If you don’t feel better, and you have not done what is asked of you, don’t blame the practitioner or the modality. You can only hold yourself responsible for letting yourself down. 

Nobody cares about your health and well-being more than you do. You are the one who must live with your health issues every day. Therefore, it is only you who can “fix” them. The acupuncturist, chiropractor, massage therapist, personal trainer and dietitian are simply offering assessment and guidance. It falls on your shoulders to put that knowledge and those programs into practice to make a difference in your life.

Come on, you can do it!

Yours in self-directed wellness,

Dr. Mark Wiley

Chinese Herbs for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects more than 37 million Americans today. That’s approximately 18 percent of U.S. citizens, most of them in their 20s and 30s. IBS presents either as diarrhea or constipation and there are both mental-emotional components and food components to the syndrome.

The theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) hold that there are several “patterns of imbalance” that can cause IBS. These patterns are differentiated by sets of symptoms and are thus treated with different patent herbal formulas.

In terms of the mental-emotional causes of IBS, TCM distinguishes several syndromes. “Liver qi stagnation” is among the most common cause wherein the stress or emotional upset “stagnates” the liver energy, slowing the release of blood and overheating the spleen and stomach.

This imbalance is made worse with emotions and stress, and its symptoms include alternating diarrhea and constipation, irritability, depression, mood swings, tension and spasm in the neck and upper back, epigastric pain, abdominal pain and/or bloating, hypochondriac pain, cold fingers and toes.

An effective Chinese patent herbal formula for this type of problem is Chai Hu Shu Gan Wan (Bupleurum Soothe Liver Teapills).

Another syndrome is known as “liver qi invading the spleen.” With this syndrome there is a marked emotional component that worsens with stress and emotional upset.

Symptoms include abdominal pain and cramping, irritability, anger, moodiness, depression and recurrent, explosive diarrhea. The diarrhea here is a physiological response of the body to prolonged, repeated or severe emotional and psychological stress. After the diarrhea episode the person usually feels better, if only temporarily.

A strong herbal formula for this is known as Tong Xie Yao Feng Wan (Calm Wind Teapills).

Another form of IBS—predominate diarrhea type—is known as “liver qi stagnation with food or damp stagnation in the intestines.” This syndrome presents with indigestion, flatulence, belching, acid reflux, abdominal distension and pain, tendency to constipation, sluggish bowels or alternating bowel habits.

This type of IBS is typical among office workers who are habitually stressed, overworked and sedentary, leading to a slowing down of peristalsis due to hyper tonicity in the gastrointestinal system. Chinese herbs, such as Mu Xiang Shun Qi Wan (Saussurea Qi Promoting Pills), help this syndrome.

The dietary side of IBS is two-fold, concerning both what you do and do not eat. A diet that is high in sugar, alcohol, caffeine, dairy and fatty foods and low in water, fiber and alkaline foods will cause constipation by drying and food and damp stagnation in the stomach and intestines.

Thirty grams of dietary fiber, 2 quarts of water and plenty of green leafy vegetables every day should re-balance the problem. But you must also slow down on and ideally discontinue the intake of foods and beverages that dehydrate and also cause dampness (phlegm-rheum) in the body.

If you have access to a TCM practitioner or acupuncturist, a proper diagnosis can be made and the proper syndrome-specific herbs can be advised. If not, then consider IBS as a syndrome composed of a set of symptoms and see which from the above you fit best into. Then search herbal formulas on the Internet to read more about their actions and any possible side effects.

Whether you choose the Chinese herbal approach or not, dietary changes are a must. IBS is a concern that is intimately connected to the foods we eat and forget to eat. And a little change can go a long way!

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Trying Alternative Medicine Is A Waste Of Time!

It must have been 27 years ago that I had my first experience with so-called “alternative medicine.” I was 13 and had been suffering chronic daily headaches and mid-back pain for half-a-dozen years. I was already seeing Philadelphia’s best mainstream medical professionals, taking a plethora of prescription meds, being put through dozens of tests, scans, protocols…. to no avail.

My father (who is an osteopath) then took me to see a chiropractor, and do you know what happened? Within minutes my back and neck felt so much looser! My restricted movement was returned within normal ranges. And I also started taking natural supplements. Over all, it was an amazing feeling…

I went back several times that week for adjustments and, at home, attempted the exercises I was instructed to do. But the pain, and my suffering, returned and continued on. This is not surprising. In fact, it is a common occurrence when people try alternative therapies.

Why This Happens
The problem is that many people turn to alternative therapies as a last resort. They have had little success with mainstream medicine, have become desperate and now are expecting a miracle cure or at least a fast turnaround of their signs and symptoms.

While I served as director of the Integrated Energy Medicine healing center in Philadelphia, I did thousands of examinations, consultations and treatments using alternative therapies and herbal medicines. I would have been delighted to offer patients both a miracle cure and fast results… if such were possible. And many times I was successful in “curing” someone in short order. But with other cases, the sheer depth, difficulty and timeline of the problem made that task impossible.

Let me explain why some patients experience great success while others simply have little to no change in their signs and symptoms and find alternative therapies to be a waste of time.

A Different Model
In general there is a vast philosophical and procedural difference in the approaches of mainstream medicine and alternative therapies. Mainstream bio-medicine uses a disease-based model of health. That is, patients see their primary care physician when they are ill, the doctor diagnoses the illness (disease) and then prescribes a protocol of curing that disease. Often there is no cure… but pain and other signs and symptoms are “managed” by prescription medication and/or surgery.

Alternative therapies, on the other hand, work from a wellness model. That is, the focus is on returning the body to homeostasis (balance) and maintaining that balance to ensure good health and long life. They proactively accomplish this through diet, exercise, mind/body techniques, herbs and supplements, massage and so on. All are methods of alleviating pain, illness and disease by restoring balance to the body. If you have back pain and take a supplement, the pain will probably remain… for a while. But if you follow a protocol of regular supplementation with safe stretches and perhaps acupuncture or chiropractic care… the body will rebalance and the issues will resolve. But this takes time.

Generally speaking, many alternative therapies aim at rebalancing the body to restore health. Chinese medicine uses herbs to balance blood, energy, body fluids and organ function. Acupuncture uses needles to open meridian lines and correct energy imbalances. Chiropractic uses manual adjustments to realign the spine to allow correct functioning of the nervous system.

Don’t Try… Do!
So why does the title of this article claim that alternative therapies are a waste of time? Well, actually, they are not. But the “trying” of alternative therapies most certainly IS. You see, there is a difference between “trying” and “doing.” Trying means “you didn’t do” something. Let’s examine some common statements I’ve heard in my practice, and what they really mean.

Statement: I tried to call you and cancel my appointment. Translation: I did not call you.

Statement: I tried acupuncture, but it didn’t help. Translation: After a few visits I was not cured and so decided not to continue and follow the protocol to the end.

Statement: I’ve been really trying to eat right and do my exercises. Translation: I eat right once in a while, and I exercise when I remember to do it.

Trying means not doing. And if you are not fully engaged in the doing of alternative therapies… seeing them through to the end… following the protocol… doing what you have been instructed to do… then they will not “work.” Not because they failed you, but because YOU failed you.

You see, the therapies themselves are not the problem (unless you have chosen to follow the wrong therapy for your health issue). They are also not time-consuming. Rather, it is the body that takes time “to allow" the method to take hold and effect change and reestablish balance. But this takes time because the body likes to stay where it is, as it requires little effort to do so. After repeated treatments, or a period of time spent doing exercises or taking herbal supplements, the body finally realizes that it is actually easier to be in a state of homeostasis (balance) than to exist in a state of imbalance. It then “lets go” of its old unhealthy holding pattern. Now it can fully embrace a healthy pattern, and positive change can take effect.

Think of it like working out at the gym. If you are out of shape and lift weights you will be sore. But little by little you will be less sore after the exercise. If you only lift weights once in a while, your muscle size, shape and density will not visibly change.  But if you stick with it (“do” it), you will notice your body changing in positive ways.

Internally this is what is happening with alternative treatments. Each day, each treatment, each bottle of supplements, each breathing exercise and dietary change brings you one day closer to the body allowing them to take hold and the body stepping out of its own way to effect a cure.

They’re No Last Resort
The worst part is, people still look to alternative therapies as a last resort, and mainstream pharma drugs and surgery as a first choice. This is perverse. Using the big guns for the beginning of a problem (depending on severity) is ridiculous. My feeling on maintaining a balance between mainstream and alternative medicine is this: Everyone needs to get a physical each year, including blood and urine tests. If a problem is found they should seek alternative, non-toxic, non-invasive methods to balance the body. After a period of time they should have more tests run to see if the problem is better or worse. If better, continue with alternative medicine. If worse, and in the red zone of health, then turn to mainstream medicine for help. Not the other way around.

As it stands, alternative practitioners tend to get chronic cases, and after years or decades of toxic drugs and surgeries have truly damaged their patients’ body. And they are left to balance these bodies, in short time, at low costs and with high hopes.

It’s time people reframe their minds on this issue. So the next time you feel un-well, seek out alternative therapies first. But you must DO it and not simply TRY it. It takes time, effort, discipline, but in the end being balanced means being healthy.

And taking personal responsibility to do what needs doing—and not depending on a doctor to do it for you—is the greatest gift you could ever give to yourself.

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Seven Ways to Prevent Chronic Headaches

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are two headache types and 13 headache classifications. If you have been seeing a doctor for treatment or have been doing some research then you’ve probably come across a number of terms, like migraine headache, cluster headache, tension-type headache, allergy headache, sinus headache and so on.

Despite the advances in medical science, an astonishing 25 million Americans suffer from migraines! And a whopping nine out of 10 suffer from other headaches as part of their daily lives! The headaches are accepted as inevitable parts of life and sufferers swallow prescription drugs as a matter of habit, just as they brush their teeth without giving the action a second thought.

The problem is chronic headaches and migraines take their toll, not only on the body’s ability to maintain a state of homeostasis or wellness, but on the ability to think logically, see clearly and to feel and act appropriately. The impact all of this has on one’s quality of life is shattering: jobs lost, relationships ruined, motivation diminished and happiness disintegrated.

Not all headaches are the same. Not everyone experiences headaches and their symptoms the same way. The same trigger does not always trigger the same type of headache. What’s more, headaches encompass physical, physiological and emotional dimensions. In short, headaches are complex conditions that need a comprehensive approach to achieve their banishment.

Despite what you may have been told, the particular label you place on a headache is less important than taking a multi-pronged approach to returning your body to its natural, balanced state in which headaches are less likely to occur.

After personally suffering from painful migraines for nearly 30 years, I devised an “integrated mind/body approach” to prevent headaches of all kinds from taking hold in the body. Indeed, the key to ending headache pain is proactive avoidance of its causes rather than reactive treatment of its symptoms.
 
Major headache triggers include chemicals in food and beverages and even toxins in the body and air, as well as harboring stress and missing sleep. In order to reestablish cellular balance, one must remove the toxins and stressors that tax the body or learn to deal with them in new ways. For most people, this means a major lifestyle change. Here are seven ways to start:

Be Mindful of Dietary Choices
Eat more fresh items and fewer processed foods. Also, try eliminating suspected food triggers one by one from your diet for two to three weeks and monitor what happens with your headaches. Common culprits include cheeses (such as Brie, feta and Gorgonzola), pickles, chocolate, dairy products (goat as well as cow), alcohol (beware the notorious red wine headache), processed meats (bologna, pepperoni, salami, hot dogs, etc.), raw onions, peanuts, raisins and products that contain MSG.

Stay Hydrated with Plenty of Water
When we become dehydrated, the digestive system, lungs, liver and kidneys can no longer do their jobs as effectively, and this can lead to headaches.

Drink plenty of water every day to help your body expel hazardous chemical residues and toxic build-up. Water cleanses the colon, flushes the liver and kidneys and empties the bowels. I recommend two quarts of bottled or filtered water daily. Please note: caffeinated coffees and teas, carbonated sodas and sugar-filled fruit drinks don’t count toward that total!

Break the Patterns of Stress
Stress, in its many forms, is a leading cause of headaches. So to control headaches, you must break the pattern of stress. Fortunately, there are many ways to go about doing this.

To reduce tension and tightness in the shoulders, neck and back, which can lead to headaches, see a massage therapist or do daily gentle stretches. A chiropractor can work with misalignments that can occur as a result of constantly tensed muscles. I also recommend meditation and deep breathing to quiet the mind and relax the body’s nervous system. Many people benefit from tai chi, yoga, qigong or other gentle exercises that stretch the body and soothe the soul. Find whatever stress relievers work for you—it could be walking, biking, ice skating or whatever.

Taking a multiple B vitamin at least twice daily also helps fight the stress reflex. For many, a magnesium supplement may be useful as well.

Take Deep Breaths
In addition to stress relief, deep breathing ensures a continuous flow of fresh oxygen into the body. Many people’s breathing is too shallow, which means they don’t take in enough oxygen. To get more oxygen into your system I recommend progressive relaxation.

Lie down comfortably with your arms at your sides, and inhale as you tense your toes. Hold for a moment and then exhale as you consciously relax them. Gradually and slowly continue up the rest of the body, mindfully tensing and relaxing the feet, calves, thighs, etc., as you inhale and exhale.

Get Sufficient Sleep
Everyone knows we get cranky and headachy when we don’t get enough sleep. To prevent headaches it’s essential to establish deep and constant sleep patterns.

If you must drink caffeine, avoid it six hours before bed. Also avoid overly stimulating activities such as intense exercise. Stop working at the computer at least an hour or so before bed. Instead, establish a regular, soothing routine, such as taking a warm bath and reading a good book before retiring.

Engage in Regular Exercise
Exercise reduces stress, releases endorphins and dopamine, improves blood flow, works through muscle tension and keeps the body firm and supple. Engaging in simple, regular activities such as brisk walks and simple stretches will go a long way toward preventing headaches, as well as improving health overall.

Exercise at the same time every day, buddy up with a friend or group for accountability and support, and consider a trainer (if only for a few sessions) to help you establish a safe, personalized program. Even very easy, do-it-yourself stretches are beneficial for headache prevention. For example, try the chin-to-chest exercise. To stretch and release tension in the shoulders and upper back, use your hands to gently push the back of the head forward until your chin touches your chest. Repeat several times daily.

Know Your Number
Most chronic headache sufferers can’t seem to find definitive relief from their pain by simply adhering to the above-mentioned suggestions. Unfortunately, the problem is more complex and what I tell patients is that the problem is compounded by multiple trigger combinations.

For me, my trigger number is four within a 24-hour period. I can have coffee, milk and sweetener with no problem, but if I get stressed: Bang! I can eat a hotdog on a white bun, drink a beer and I am fine. But get up with less than eight hours sleep and a headache will show itself. So, when living a lifestyle based on prevention it is important that you know your number… that magic digit that indicates how many triggers you can have in a day or week before the headache returns. And with that knowledge and the right amount of discipline you can keep the pain away forever.

With the above lifestyle changes you can reduce the frequency and severity of your headaches. The time to make the change is now. I wish you the best in this life-changing endeavor.

Yours in self-directed wellness,

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Change Your Vibration, Relieve Your Pain!

Everything in the universe is made up of energy and is vibrating at specific frequencies. There is dense energy, loose energy, erratic energy, calm energy, high frequencies and low frequencies. The human body, too, is nothing if not a physical body constructed of energetic vibrations.

All aspects of health and well-being—especially pain—are tied to energetic frequencies. The problem is, most of us who suffer chronic pain only get the “pain channel” and keep ourselves “tuned in” to it 24/7. Thus the “pain frequency” is maintained and our suffering is prolonged. Needlessly.

If you tune in to an opera channel on your radio, you will get opera, not country music. If you dial your mother on the cell phone, you won’t get cousin Betty. If you say bad things about people, you will lose friends. "You reap what you sow," is a good example of the power of attraction, the power of like energy meeting like energy.

If your mental energy is vibrating at a low frequency you will have trouble studying, thinking or remembering names, places or events. If your physical energy is blocked or sluggish you will experience aches and pains such as sciatica, headache, fibromyalgia and others. In short: low frequency = low function and poor health; high frequency = high functioning and good health.

You must change your energetic frequency to feel better and live better.

The Energy Body
Traditional cultures around the world built their healing models on correcting energetic imbalances in the body. Indeed, the role of Shamans in Siberia, Alaska and Southeast Asia was to eradicate “bad spirits” (i.e., negative energy) from the body to restore physical or mental health in those suffering. The entire pantheon of Chinese and Indian healing practices was built on the premise of energy systems and pathways in the body that, when blocked, cause pain and disease. Clearing these channels or centers of blocked energy (e.g., toxins, spasms) is what restores health to the ill and offers relief to the pain sufferer.

Perhaps the most common term used to talk about human energy is aura. This is a general term used to describe the color, mood or quality of five overlapping energy layers. These layers of energy (or "energy bodies") refer to the spiritual, mental, emotional, etheric and physical energies that make up all human beings.

Energy is developed, stored and moved in the body through the adrenals, the organs, chakra centers and meridian pathways. There is a saying in traditional Chinese medicine that tells why we experience pain: "Where there is energy blockage, there is pain. Where energy moves freely, there is no pain."

The key to pain relief and lasting health, then, is to open the energy channels, raise your vibrational frequency and keep your energy moving at all times. There are a number of alternative therapies whose primary function is focused on just that. Let’s look at a few here.

Qigong
Qigong is an ancient Chinese system of energy cultivation. Also called “breath work.” Qigong exercises balance energy in the body through coordination of thought, breath and movement in specific sequences.

The nucleus of qigong is the exercise of consciousness and vital energy. The goal being to circulate, build and balance qi (vital life-force energy) throughout the body to promote physical and mental health.

Regular practice of qigong exercises aid in regulating the functions of the central nervous system. Along with exercising and controlling one’s mind and body, qigong influences one’s physical states and pathological conditions.

There are both practitioner-applied and individual self-regulating qigong methods. If you are in serious pain and can find a reputable local practitioner, make an appointment. If not, there are good instructional programs available. Look into them.

Reiki
Similar to qigong, reiki is a Japanese energy technique for reducing stress and inducing relaxation to help promote the free-flow of energy in the body. Unlike qigong, reiki requires the "laying on of hands" of a practitioner in order for its benefits to be gained.

Reiki practitioners lay their hands on patients in various configurations that are modeled on ancient Tibetan and Chinese powerful healing symbols. It is believed that re-creating these symbols on the body will allow "God’s energy" to flow from the universe, through the practitioner and into the patient. This energy, which is vibrating at a high frequency, will lift the low energy of the sufferer to relieve pain and illness.

Reiki has become a popular healing modality among nurses in hospitals. The patient does not have to be awake for them to administer a few minutes of healing touch.

Acupressure and Acupuncture
All Chinese body-healing practices are based on the idea that energy flows through the body in channels called meridians. These transport energy and life essence from organ to organ. Again, where there is slow energy or blockage, there is felt pain and soon disease.

Acupressure is the non-invasive and non-needle offspring of acupuncture. Both work on the same theory, but acupressure does not require needles to affect a change in the patient. In both cases, the practitioner will either “needle” or apply finger pressure to specific points on the body. These points are numbered and named and have specific indications for application.

Using a correct “prescription” of points, the practitioner can, in effect, change the energy in a patient, open their channels and help their energy move more freely. Again, when energy moves freely… there is no pain or disease.

Acupuncture and acupressure are both widely practiced today and worth looking into. They have been around 5,000 years… not too shabby!

Conclusion
The above-mentioned alternative therapies are just a handful of those which are able to bring relief from pain and illness by correcting energetic imbalances in the body. They are based on thousands of years of trial-and-error application and have an amazing track record of success.

If you have tried just about everything and are still in pain, then you might want to ditch the mainstream idea of health. Instead, open your mind to these traditional ideas of the body being composed of energy, and that energy vibrating at various frequencies, positively and negatively affecting the mind, body, spirit and organs.

Pain is caused when there is a blockage of this energy. These practices unblock your inherent life energies. Give them a try… pain relief may be just around the corner!

—Dr. Mark Wiley