I have been blessed in my seven years of Oriental medicine practice to work with a diverse client base. Working with old and young men and women has shown me how comprehensive this medicine is for all humans, and also how specific it can be for each person. However, I tend to see the same patterns throughout the spectrum of people, even in different disease conditions.
This is a plus, in one sense, because we get to know effective treatments for familiar patterns. It is negative, in another sense, because it indicates that commonalities between groups of people exist, and this is directly related to how we live.
We are engaging in too much work and activity, and trying to support ourselves with devitalized food and drink, often consumed in excess. This way of living is nothing new, and was recognized in the ancient Oriental texts as habitual stress, indulgence in sweet and rich foods, and damage from emotional upset. Back then, they turned to acupuncture, herbal medicinals and a clear, bland diet. Today, we can do the same thing, bringing relief to discomfort and a greater understanding of the root causes of disease.
Last month in this column, the emphasis was on women’s health. So, this month, we will focus on men’s health. We will uncover what it is about acupuncture that is so effective and how to use that with other lifestyle modifications to promote prostate health. First, we will examine how and why acupuncture works.
Oriental medicine looks at the body, mind and spirit with a lens that sees qi, mBlood, yin and yang as vital body substances. The diseases are described in terms of deficiency, stagnation and excess of naturally occurring byproducts, such as heat, dampness and phlegm. Qi and blood should move freely throughout the body and be in good supply to nourish all the organs and tissues of the body. When the nutrition is appropriate and excess is not consumed, dampness and phlegm are prevented. When they do occur, it starts in the digestive tract. As it keeps building over time, it starts to affect other organ systems like the heart, kidneys and lungs. It also tends to cause blockages in the body, therefore impeding the smooth flow of qi and blood and setting the stage for pain, tissue growth and sluggish body movements. This is a major reason why clean, plant-based eating helps any disease condition, and why I include a nutrition plan with every treatment.
Changes in the prostate gland are unique to men’s health and do not present themselves until later in life. The Oriental medical lens often finds the pattern of spleen and kidney qi deficiencies when looking for the root cause of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It presents with changes in urination to be more frequent, urgent and at night. BPH is usually painless, but urinary tract infections can occur, causing pain. Kidney qi deficiency happens naturally with aging, but it is accelerated by working too much, not sleeping enough, medications, overeating and over-drinking alcohol and caffeine. Kidney qi is like our savings account of energy, and we want to do things every day to save qi and not be spending it all on stress and digesting too much food. When the kidney qi is low, the body has a difficult time pushing all the urine out; therefore, there is urinary urgency because the bladder fills too quickly.
Spleen qi encompasses our digestive energy. When we eat sweet, processed and rich foods, it damages the spleen and uses too much energy, thereby leaving dampness and phlegm as byproducts, which can then go anywhere in the body. This is similar to thinking about mucus or inflammation in the body. Dampness causes blockages, which further inhibit urination. Blocked qi and blood cause pain, sometimes quite intensely. Acupuncture is fantastic for opening these channels, promoting the smooth flow of qi and blood and greatly relieving pain.
The needles can work to strengthen the spleen to prevent dampness, but the best effect there is seen with changing the food intake. Start with eliminating foods that cause dampness, like gluten, refined sugar and flour, and saturated fats. It may seem daunting, but it is well worth it to improve such a vital part of the day as voiding the bladder.
When using needles, herbs and foods to strengthen spleen and kidney qi, results are noticed immediately, safely and effectively bringing relief and a sense of greater well-being, along with long-term repair. QCBN
By Katie Borchert
Dr. Katie Borchert has office hours daily at Partners in Health Care Naturally in downtown Prescott, 343 S. Montezuma St. She is also available for home visits, a great way to help the whole family. She can be reached at 928-445-2900 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The clinic website is prescottnaturopathicdoctors.com and Dr. Katie has Facebook and Instagram accounts featuring naturopathic living.