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newNY_2011Oriental Medicine Journal Spring/Wood 2011

It is finally beginning to smell like Spring in Chicago! There is no mistaking that we have entered the time of the Wood element. The grass has turned green; some of the trees have a halo of light green or yellow; the hyacinths, daffodils, and other early flowers have popped open; the flowering trees and shrubs are setting buds; and the air smells like new wood! Somewhat serendipitously, most of the articles in this issue address topics relating to the Wood element, and particularly the Liver and its controlling relationship with the Earth.

Appropriately, we begin with an article by Elaine J. Wagner about a yoga/qi gong exercise called “walking trees.” It is a perfect exercise for this time of year – because it is done outside among the trees, because it benefits the Liver, and because it improves vision. Wagner corrected her own nearsightedness several decades ago using this exercise and has taught it to many people.

Three of the articles in this issue address the relationship between Wood and Earth. Honora Lee Wolfe shares with us a favorite treatment that she uses for problems of depressive heat affecting the Liver and the Stomach so that qi is flowing upward when it should be flowing downward. It is useful for a wide variety of problems including breast pain, jaw problems, GERD, insomnia, headaches, anxiety, respiratory allergies, and many others. We could be using this treatment protocol in our clinics every day.

Richard “Kyo” Mitchell treats us to another of his fascinating analyses of Oriental Medicine from the perspective of scientific findings from Western Medicine. This time he takes a look at the digestive system and why the formula Wen Dan Tang is effective for treating the biliary and gastrointestinal symptoms of disharmony between the Stomach and Gall Bladder with phlegm heat. This article expands our OM understanding of Gall Bladder so that it comes alive clinically. Already it has made a difference for me in my ability to diagnose and treat this problem.

The third Wood-Earth article takes a look at the Liver and the Pancreas, again while standing at the intersection of Oriental and Western Medicine. Johnson Gao proposes a new way of understanding diabetes, based on his cellular research identifying enzymes in the liver that control the metabolizing of carbohydrates, but also based on OM strategies that diagnose and treat diabetes through the Liver rather than through the Pancreas as Western Medicine does. This article includes more biochemistry than you will typically see in our pages; however, we have tried to strike a balance. We have included the details of liver cytochemistry for our readers who will be interested in that level of detail, but we have placed most of that detail in notes that accompany the article so that readers will be able to understand the concepts proposed in the article even if they choose not to read the notes.

In another article that uses Western science to document the success of Oriental Medicine treatment, Kathleen C. Hanold and her co-authors present a case study demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture in restoring sight to a patient who became blind as the result of a stroke that occurred following a Western Medicine neurointerventional treatment for an ophthalmic aneurysm. The patient’s subjective improvement in vision is correlated with dramatic MRI changes before and after acupuncture treatment.

Our final article, by Eric Brand, is a “classic” OMJ article in the spirit of our founders. Brand describes the Chinese term dao di and explains why OM practitioners should know and use the term in Pinyin. Dao di refers both to the authenticity of our herbs and also to the authenticity of our medicine. As he explains, the more we pay attention to the correctness in source and use of our herbs, i.e., their authenticity in geography and quality, the more authentic, i.e., “correct,” our medicine becomes.

This is an exciting issue. Any one of these articles by itself can have a dramatic impact on your practice and on our medicine. Imagine what their collective impact can be on the dao di of OM. The more we are able to understand about OM based on the findings of Western science, the more we find out just how deep an understanding our predecessors in this medicine had, without the benefit of direct imaging. The more we can think as they did, the more dao di our practice will become.

Enjoy the Spring.