Five Elements Game

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Tongue Diagnosis

TONGUE-DIAGNOSIS

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Tongue Body Color

COLOR INDICATIONS MECHANISM

Pale

deficiency

Qi and/or Blood unable to fill tongue body

deficiency of Qi

Qi too deficient to guide Blood to tongue to give it pink color.

deficiency of Blood

Lack of Blood can’t give tongue pink color

deficiency of Yang

Lack of Yang can’t lift Qi and Blood to tongue to give it pink color.

Pink

normal

Pink means adequate Qi and Blood.

Red

heat

Heat accelerates and expands movement of Blood which fills tongue with more red color.

excess heat

Often found with a thicker tongue coating, likely yellow.

deficiency heat

Often found with a thin or scanty tongue coating.

Crimson (dark red)

Ying or Blood level heat.


Blood stagnation with heat

Heat damages yin, causes the red to become more concentrated and darker.


Blood stagnation with heat Blood stagnation causes purple color, heat makes it more red.

Purple

Blood stagnation

The slower the Blood moves, the more depleted of oxygen it will become, giving rise to a tendency toward the blue color. Purple is a transitory color between pink and blue.

Blue-Purple

Blood stagnation with, or due to cold.

Cold (blue) impedes movement which causes Blood stagnation (purple)

Pale Purple (“dusky”)

Blood stagnation with or due to deficiency of Qi, Blood, or Yang

Blood stagnation is purple, pale is deficiency.

Blue

Internal cold

Cold impedes movement which allows red blood to lose its oxygen giving rise to the blue color. (western explaination)

 

Tongue Body Shape

SIZE INDICATIONS MECHANISM

Small tongue body

deficiency of Blood or Yin

Lack of fluids causes tongue to shrink in size.

Swollen tongue body (vertically enlarged)

excess heat or alcohol/drug toxicity

Heat pushes more Blood into tongue body to increase its size.

Flabby tongue body (horizontally enlarged)

damp or phlegm

fluids fill tongue and enlarge it horizontally.

Teeth marks

damp or phlegm

a continuation of the flabby tongue in which the teeth indentations are visible.

 

Tongue Body Cracks

CRACKS INDICATIONS MECHANISM


Cracks in tongue body

Blood or Yin deficiency

Fluids unable to moisten and nourish tongue body giving rise to cracks like dried earth.

+red

Yin deficiency

Fluids unable to moisten and nourish tongue body.

+pale

Blood deficiency

Fluids unable to moisten and nourish tongue body.

+teeth marks
cracks on lateral sides, look like fish’s gills

dampness

Damp prevents fluids from rising up to tongue to nourish it.

 

Prickles, dots, spots

SPOTS INDICATIONS MECHANISM

Prickles, dots, spots

heat or stagnation

+red

heat

Heat causes too much Qi and Blood to rise to the tongue where it causes the body to develop dots, points, spots, etc.

+purple (brown, dark)

Blood stagnation

Blood stagnation always looks purple.

 

 

 

 

Tongue Bearing Issues

BEARING INDICATIONS MECHANISM

Stiff tongue

Spasm due to internal wind

Excess heat, or a deficiency of Liver Yin or Blood can cause wind causing the tongue body to become stiff.

Limp tongue

deficiency of Qi, Blood, or Yin.

Lack of nutrients cause the tongue to become limp.

Trembling tongue

Spasm due to internal wind

Excess heat, or a deficiency of Liver Yin or Blood can cause wind causing the tongue body to tremble. NOTE: all tongues move, this sign is EXCESSIVE movement.

Deviated tongue

Internal wind, phlegm in channels

Something is blocking the channels and collaterals on one side of the tongue preventing its movement. This is also a “check in with a neurologist” indication due to the possibility of a tumor impinging a cranial nerve.

Engorged Sublingual Veins

Qi and/or Blood stagnation

Blood flow is impeded, giving rise to the appearance of backed-up Blood beneath the tongue.

 

Coating Color

COLOR INDICATIONS MECHANISM

White

cold

White and clear things in TCM are dilute and cold.

Yellow

heat

Yellow things in TCM are more concentrated due to heat damaging the Yin.

Gray

interior cold or heat

heat or cold is damaging the interior.

Black

extreme interior cold or heat

a further exasperation of the gray coating

 

Coating thickness

THICKNESS INDICATIONS MECHANISM

Thin coating

exterior syndrome or normal

If you can see through the coating to the body of the tongue, it is thin.

Thick coating

excessive condition, interior, damp, phlegm, food stagnation

Coating is the “smoke” of the stomach. Pathological factors rise with the Stomach Qi to the tongue coating.

 

 

 

Coating Moistness

MOISTNESS INDICATIONS MECHANISM

Moist coating

normal

the coating is neither excessively wet, dripping, or dry

Glossy (excessively shiny or wet) coating

internal cold, Yang deficiency

Yang deficiency or cold that damages Yang impedes the transformation of fluids giving rise to the accumulation of dampness or phlegm which shows up on the tongue in the form of the excessively wet coating.

Dry coating

dryness, heat, Yin deficiency, Yang deficiency

Here, we have a variety of factors that damage the body fluids including heat and dryness. Yin deficiency is obviously a form of internal dryness, and Yang deficiency can give rise to dryness in the body if the Yang is too weak to transform dietary water into body fluids.

 

Coating Distribution

DISTRIBUTION INDICATIONS MECHANISM

Even coating

phlegm-damp accumulation in the middle Jiao

The tongue indicates the conditions throughout the entire body, but also focuses on the Spleen and Stomach in particular. One map that is laid atop the tongue suggests that the entire tongue indicates the condition of the Spleen and Stomach only. So, a coating that covers the entire tongue can sometimes indicate only a pathology of the middle Jiao.

Coating on the anterior third (front third)

superficial invasion of pathogenic factor

The anterior third of the tongue is related to the Lungs and Heart. When a pathogenic factor enters the body, it generally enters through the Lungs, and so this thick coating on the anterior third of the tongue indicates this superficial invasion.

Coating in the middle only.

Phlegm and/or damp in the middle Jiao

Middle of the tongue is related to the middle Jiao.

Coating on one side or the other.

Shao Yang disease

Most pathologies that are one-sided or have symptoms that flip-flop between opposites (i.e. alternating chills and fever) indicate that the pathological factor has found its way to the Shao Yang channel, level, or organ (GB).

Peeled/Scanty/Coatless

Stomach Yin or Kidney Yin deficiency

Because the tongue coating is the smoke of the Stomach, and this smoke requires some Yin to evaporate up toward the tongue, a lack of Yin will cause a lack of smoke to rise and a lack of coating.

Geographic coating

Stomach Yin or Stomach Qi deficiency

Coating is the smoke of the Stomach. The Yin is what is heated to cause the smoke, while the Qi is that heating activity. In the absence of either of these factors, the coating can appear missing on portions of the tongue.

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John’s Experience with Adam

Big Pharma in my rearview mirror: healing with acupuncture

In hindsight, I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised when, last October, less than 12 hours after I hobbled into Adam Moes’ acupuncture studio with a painfully sore middle back, I felt complete and total relief.

After all, wasn’t this the same man in whose hands I had placed my hope of helping me heal my torn knee meniscus so that I could run and cross-country ski again?

What follows is both a brief history of my successful journey with Adam as well as another milestone in my path toward what I call here alternative medicine, as opposed to the present hegemonic Big Med/Big Pharma complex.

The injury

Let’s be very clear about something from the start: this knee was NOT just going to heal on its own.

On March 28, 2013, I finished skiing on some paths in Lassen National Forest not far from Lassen Volcanic National Park. On the 90 minute drive home to Chico, my left knee started swelling up. I didn’t think too much of it, and the next day I went for a short run in Butte Creek Canyon, where I live.

Big mistake. I’m convinced that it was the run the day after the ski that really tore up my knee. From March 29th until May 10th, I experienced pretty much constant pain (and constant ibuprofen pill popping), especially when going up and down stairs or when carrying my bags to and from work. As I said, this thing did not show any sign of healing six weeks after the injury had occurred.

May 10, 2013 was the first day that I saw Adam, and it was the last day that I experienced serious pain in my knee. But I’m getting ahead of my story a little.

Cut it out or heal it?

As it happens, I had bigger fish to fry between March 29th and May 10th : In late April, I found out that my days of fathering children had not ended back in the mid 1990’s. I would be a father again—at 51. Such were my memories of that April: news of my partner’s pregnancy, an injured knee, oh, a painful root canal, and increased episodes of atrial fibrillation, a heart disorder.

Back to the knee: after weeks of no real improvement, I resolved that I would do something about it. I received a referral from my general practitioner on April 22. On April 24, I had X-rays, and on May 1st I had magnetic resonance images (MRIs) taken.

Meanwhile back in I-can’t-believe-this-baby-thing-is-actually-happening-again land, my partner and I had our first appointment with Deena Moes, whom we decided to sign on as our midwife. During that first meeting, as I sat in a new-daddy-again daze, I mentioned that I had been experiencing knee problems and that I was to see an orthopedic surgeon late that week, and that I was in pain and that I would be happy if he cut my knee to pieces if only I could run and ski again—or something like that. Deena very gently mentioned her husband’s acupuncture practice, and a few days later I contacted Adam and scheduled an appointment for later that week.

Looking at my calendar now, I can see that May 10, 2013 was a big one. For starters, I would go to a certain Dr. Watson, an orthopedist in Chico, CA. Later that day, I was to appear in couples counseling (surprise, surprise). After counseling, I was to have my first appointment with Adam Moes.

And my knee was in pain. It hurt to walk, remember.

I arrived at Dr. Watson’s office, waited a while in those awful stall-like waiting rooms that we all have come to accept as normal and okay. In walked an overweight man wearing what I have called the official uniform of Chico, California men over the age of 55 or so: a Tommy Bahama shirts with one of those tropical patterns that suggest you’re relaxing with other Americans in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

There are three things that you need to know about this appointment besides the Tommy Bahama shirt.

First, Watson told me exactly what exactly ailed me: a torn knee meniscus. Okay. Good to know.

Second—and I swear this happened—Dr. Watson at one point jabbed my knee right where it hurt, and, not being stoic, I winced and gasped at the pain that his lockerroom behavior caused. “See?” he snickered. “I knew exactly where it was.” Bravo, Watson. Bravo.

But the third thing that happened is the most important. You see, Dr. Watson told me that my knee would not heal and that I should undergo orthopedic surgery in which he would cut out that part of the meniscus that had torn.

Now, if he had told me that doing that would, one, take away the pain, and two, let me resume a life of skiing and running, I probably would have scheduled an appointment at once.

To his credit, though, Dr. Watson promised no such thing.

“So” I thought to myself. “You cut out a part of my body, and what do I get in return?”

But it was on to the therapist’s.

Then on to Adam’s

Here’s what you need to know about my first appointment with Adam.

First, after I had told Adam what my diagnosis was, and what Dr. Watson had told me, Adam stressed that “Your body CAN heal itself.”

Second, (and this point might get buried between points one and two, but I think it was crucial) Adam told me that complete healing would not happen overnight (although the cessation of the pain would!). I believe he said that my body would do 90% of its healing quite quickly, but it was the final 10% that was critical to really getting this meniscus fixed.

Third (the eye-popper), after my first treatment, on May 10, 2013, I never felt the kind of pain that makes one groan again. Never. One single treatment. Gone.

The summer my knee healed

I guess it’s pretty obvious that I didn’t bother with a follow-up appointment with the orthopedist.

From May 10th to October 9th 2013, the record shows that I received acupuncture treatment from Adam 19 times, typically once a week.

Early on, Adam convinced me of a couple of things. First of all, taking pain-killers like Ibuprofen was counterproductive because it allowed the body to wait for outside chemicals to address the situation instead of relying on its own resources. That was easy to stop because, as I told you, after my first treatment, I never had knee pain worthy of taking pain-killers anyway. The second thing was that I would supplement my diet with a custom mixture of Chinese herbs. Third, Adam exhorted me to adopt a low-acidic diet. I immediately cut my coffee intake by 50% and tried to offset higher acid-forming foods (meats, bread) with alkaline-forming foods (nuts, avocados).

It’s hard to overstate how well Adam took care of me during that time. Sometimes I saw him along with other patients during his “community acupuncture clinics.” At other times, he saw me in private sessions in which he would perform more extensive or complicated needlework directly on my knee.

The beauty of understatement

One of the greatest pleasures about doing healing with Adam is that doing the healing work IS pleasurable. In contrast to those awful waiting rooms, Adam’s clinic looks and feels like a cozy recreation room filled with soothing lights and textures—and the music: pleasant New Age vibrations together with Adam’s beloved George Winston. But the acupuncturist himself is the most comforting aspect of the entire experience. Like a lot of people, I rather loathe getting injections at the doctor’s or dentist’s office. I still do. Adam’s needling, on the other hand, is always gently administered. His manner is quiet, soothing and he is nimble and dexterous in both the insertion and removal of needles. There is another aspect about Adam that provides comfort. He is somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to talk. He is very pleasant, and even sociable, and is very willing to discuss and listen to all aspects of the healing work at hand, but he doesn’t talk to hear his own voice. He is mindful of the beauty of understatement, of silence. I think this is part of the healing experience and the message that he communicates, namely, that, “You, my patient, are the star here.” “I am merely assisting your body in healing itself.”

The healing continues

To return briefly to my knee meniscus story, I immediately formed protective scar tissue thanks to Adam’s first few treatments. He somberly stressed, however, that it was imperative to transform the scar tissue back into the differentiated tissue that is the meniscus.

And here the story takes a somewhat mysterious turn. I don’t know how one convinces the body to heal beyond mere scar tissue, but Adam knows that, in the long run, scar tissue ends up creating its own chronic pain issues, so we had to fight to transform the body’s quick fix bandage into what it was before.

I think I remember the treatment during which a good bit of this occurred. As it usually happens, and as happened that day, Adam put the needles in lightly. Very lightly, I thought. Still, the fact that that first poke is so easy helps get you to the appointment and relax at the outset. After about 15 or 20 minutes Adam comes in and usually sticks the needles in a little deeper—which he did this time. It was at this point, maybe in August sometime, that, minutes after he had put the needles in deeper, I had a close to out-of-body experience, a kind of ecstasy (= ex stasis), a kind of euphoria. It was during this time that I imagine, anyway, that a good bit of scar tissue transformed (back) into the meniscus cartilage.

My knee’s healing continued through the fall and even the winter. I stopped seeing Adam for knee treatments in October shortly before his wife, Deena assisted my partner’s birthing of our son Ashwynn.

My knee is 100% healed. I cannot tell the difference between my two knees anymore.

Addressing Atrial Fibrillation

Before it was torn knee cartilage, now it’s an irregular heartbeat—atrial fibrillation, to be more precise—that challenges me. However different the two health problems are, I am struck by what seems to me to be the inanity of what Big Med / Big Pharma offered me in both situations. The first cardiologist I saw recommended I get on statins before he even knew what my problem was. “You won’t find a cardiologist who doesn’t take statins,” he said. The second cardiologist was the one who, with the help of a heart monitor that I wore, at least gave me the diagnosis that I had “a-fib.” To his credit, he didn’t try to jam drugs down my throat, but, on the other hand, he really didn’t suggest any way for me to HEAL my heart. Apparently, there is no “cure” for atrial fibrillation in Big Med / Big Pharma’s handbook, but that doesn’t stop many cardiologists from trying to push rat poison a.k.a. blood anti-coagulants (e.g., Warfarin, Coumadin) on their patients because, apparently, there is an increased risk of stroke among a-fibbers. Again, I do not doubt that it is not a good thing to have a-fib: the heart flutters and does not pump blood efficiently. This can’t be a good thing. Besides, during an a-fib episode I am tired, irritable and often can’t do much more than sit and wait for it to pass. Ignoring the problem, then, is not an option. But neither is taking drugs which artificially thin my blood and can cause their own problems. I’ll leave it to the reader to wonder whether Big Pharma really cares about health and healing as long as they continue to sell their rat poison.

As my a-fib episodes became more frequent last October, I again sought out Adam to see whether the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that he practices offers a way out for me. So out came the needles and we have been going at it since then.

Again, the treatment does not consist of acupuncture alone. Herbs are in the mix, but, as was the case with my knee treatment, I also needed to reevaluate my diet and lifestyle. With the knee, I cut back on acid-forming foods, at least for the duration of that summer (and often carried on with those good habits, included, as I mentioned, a 50% reduction in my coffee intake). This time, with the heart issue, I finally had to confront the fact that my alcohol intake—from three to five glasses nightly, every night—was excessive. Adam’s support here was also strong and quiet. I clearly needed to do my share of the work for the acupuncture and herbs to take effect. And, I have to believe it was those three things that stopped the a-fib episodes by Thanksgiving (unfortunately, during the extended holiday season, I failed to see much of Adam, and although I had cut my alcohol intake to a glass or two a week, the a-fib episodes came roaring back without the acupuncture treatments. We are back on track again). While the focus has been on heart treatment the past several months, the magic back treatment that I mentioned in the very beginning of this posting occurred during this time as did a treatment when I asked Adam to focus on clearing out flulike symptoms that had a hard time leaving my body.

I count myself fortunate that I am walking this path, and that I have managed to avoid the misfortune that befalls those who put their trust in Big Med / Big Pharma and its slice-it-up / drug-it-up approach to “wellness” –if you can even use that word with those guys.

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Doctor likes to walk in the woods

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This is my lovely niece, Ananya. She has been visiting me from India.

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Happy Spring!

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