Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Oriental Medicine Healing Experience

By Mary C., Student

When I had my first Oriental medicine healing experience, it was when I was very sick.  I had just run the 5k Mud Race that came to Anchorage.  My immune system had already been pretty weak prior to running it because of all the stress I had been under.  My asthma was acting up and I couldn’t breathe well, and I just felt bad overall.  So after I had done the mud race, I thought it was only going to be my body that hurt.  Two days after the race was over, I began to feel worse.  I couldn’t breathe well at all and I felt weak.  I started to get high fevers at night that became low grade during the day.  I felt like I was walking in a dream.  During the fevers at night, I would sweat so badly that I had to open the windows and have no sheets on me.

My teacher Cynthia was so sweet and asked if I’d like a treatment.  She used some essential oil blends and rubbed them into my lung meridian when I was supine, as well as other acupoints that I can’t recall.  During one moment when she hit a point, I felt like someone’s hand was resting on my lower belly.  It was incredibly weird but calming at the same time.  As if someone was there, helping my healing along.  Later I turned over into prone position and she pressed my Shu Points.  I fell asleep because I was so weak and tired.  Later on I woke up still feeling feverish, but almost like I was getting better already.  Cynthia gave me a special tincture that I had to take every day in water.  Later on I was given herbal pills from Lamar, our acupuncturist, and I made and appointment to get acupuncture done too.

For my acupuncture appointment I was given a “clearing” treatment and told to avoid caffeine for a while.  This made me sad, but I wanted to get better.  I made another acupuncture appointment and began taking the tincture and herbs that were given to me.  Within a few days I was already feeling quite amazing.  The fevers stopped completely and I felt like my lungs had cleared.  I could breathe again! There was also this new energized feeling in my body.  It seemed like I had more stamina.

After my second acupuncture treatment I was completely better and felt better than I had before I got sick.  It was quite amazing and whatever doubts I had before about Oriental medicine working, were gone.  I was a skeptic in some areas, but it seems each time I try these new things it opens my eyes even more.  I am so excited I get to practice everything I have learned to help heal others.

Note: The instructors and practitioners at Alaska Institute always encourage patients to see their doctor as needed for health emergencies.  There is much we have to offer in the case of non-emergencies, and we take an integrative and respectful approach to working in complement with a person’s conventional medical care.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Stretch Marks: Massage & Essential Oils

My massage class learned how to use essential oils & gliding cups to help erase stretch marks.  The essential oils soak in to soften the scar tissue and improve the skin, then the gliding cups bring healing circulation & Yin fluids to fill in the grooves.   

You should expect this to take between 1-6 months of consistent treatment, with a Very noticeable improvement if not complete healing of the skin.  It’s especially helpful to increase intake of water and Vitamin C during the treatments through fresh juicing, fresh parsley tea, or a quality supplement.

Here’s what we did:

Make the Essential Oil Cream.  There are quite a few oils and nice recipes that can be used. 

Here’s my blend:
(You can learn how to make things like this in my on-line essential oils courses, see the link at the bottom.)

4oz Cream Base:  Shea butter, Cocoa butter, Avacado oil, Apricot oil, Calendula infused oil.

Essential Oils added to base:  Rose Hip Seed CO2 6d, Bulgarian Lavender 4d, Palmarosa 6d, Green Mandarin 8d, Rock Rose 3d, Green Tea 2d, Carrot 8d, Pink Grapefruit 8d.

Apply Moxa Balm (Chinese herbal ointment) to acupoints LU-9 (pictured) and SP-6 (not shown).  This helps tonify Metal and Earth elements which are both indicated.

Apply the Essential Oil Cream to the stretch marks and really work it into the skin, but only to the person’s comfort level.  It should be a little vigorous but not at all painful.

Use the gliding cup
in short straight strokes going in different directions – up, down, across, diagonal.  Do this for about 5 minutes per area worked.  It takes about 15 minutes to do an entire abdomen by breaking it up into sections.  If the skin starts to get red or irritated, stop.

Use gentle massage to smooth out the skin area.

The cream can be applied daily.  The gliding cup can be done up to 3x/week.  This makes a great quick spot-treatment package as it only takes about 15 minutes and can easily be done on a lunch break or on the way home from work.  Results are seen in continuous gradual improvement and are often noticed to start immediately after the first treatment.

Learn tons of great information from my On-Line Essential Oils Course series. You can study here at our school in Alaska from anywhere in the world!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Massage for Aging, Geriatric Massage

Aging is a natural process, but in our culture it is treated as a disease. Medicines are prescribed and marketed as anti-aging and it is dreaded among younger generations. Things like graying or thinning hair, weakening of bones, memory loss, and sexual dysfunction are included in the symptoms of this form of pathology. Many other diseases are thought to coincide with aging such as Cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Osteoporosis.  Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treat aging differently but both agree that the symptoms can be postponed.
            In Western medicine aging is controversial. It is not recognized as a disease but in many cases treated as one, with the increase of average life expectancy being a win for modern medicine. Some indications are attributed to the aging process rather than the result of poor health habits. As with many diseases western medicine tries to treat the symptoms rather than the underlying cause of the symptoms. Prescribing hormone replacement treatments, high blood pressure medications, and eye surgeries, not to mention the cosmetic surgeries to make elders look younger. They see aging as the risk factor for certain health concerns. 'Nir Barzilai of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York, says “one way of trying to face down this enormous burden of disease is to look at the biggest risk factor common to all of them -- aging.”
Traditional Chinese medicine views aging as a disharmony between Qi and Xue. Most symptoms point to a deficiency in Kidney Jing, or essence. People are born with this Essence and it is nurtured through life by having a healthy lifestyle, such as getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising, etc. Unhealthy lifestyles, such as ones with a lot of emotional or spiritual distress deplete this essence causing the symptoms of aging. The disharmony of the Qi and Xue weakens the body and allows it to be susceptible to disease.
Massage in general can help relieve aging symptoms or even help postpone the aging process. Massage can help relieve stress, depression and other mental ailments by releasing endorphins, releasing aches and pains, and protecting the Kidney Jing. It helps improve circulation, which can help remove toxins, and move fluids to and from parts of the body that may need nourishment. Massage can help tighten the skin and improve posture by loosening tight muscles, keeping a person looking youthful.  There is also a specific type of massage for the elderly called geriatric massage.  A geriatric massage session usually lasts no longer than 30 minutes because the client may be more fragile or sensitive. The massage is light and uses gentle hand motions as well as passive stretching which can help enhance blood circulation, combat depression, improve balance and flexibility, reduce the pain of arthritis, increase joint mobility/prevent stiffness, improve posture, and encourage overall well being.

Both Western and Eastern medicine recognize that aging is inevitable but also that life can be extended by using techniques to prevent age related diseases and afflictions. The views on what causes aging and how to have a healthier happier life are, however, different. Western medicine tries to find the best new technology to remove symptoms of aging as they appear and points to aging itself as the cause of age related pathology. Eastern medicine sees aging as a process of depletion throughout a person’s life and if you want a long healthy life you must take care of yourself along the entirety of your life span.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Essential Oils & Asthma

There are 2 areas to discuss here:

  •      General precautions for using all essential oils for someone with asthma or wheezing.
  • 2      Specific oils and methods to assist in opening the lungs for someone with asthma or wheezing.

General Precautions for Using All Essential Oils for Someone with Asthma or Wheezing

Strong smells can sometimes be a trigger for wheezing or asthma.  Because of this it’s very important to always test for sensitivity first.  Guidelines:
  1.       I strongly suggest using a high quality organic oil.  Perfumes, chemicals, and adulterants commonly added to low quality essential oils are of concern to triggering an attack.
  2.         Place 1 drop of essential oil on a tissue and have the person gently smell it.  If they get any reaction to it, don’t use it.  Once a reaction has started, you may need to wait 30-60 minutes before trying another oil.  If there is no reaction go to step #3.
  3.       Always start at a very light dosage so their body can gently get used to the oil and be comfortable with not having any reaction to it.  The best places to apply an essential oil topically are on the ankles and wrists – always diluted into carrier oil.  If there is any reaction, stop using it.  If there is no reaction continue to step #4.
  4.         If both smelling a drop of the oil and using it on ankles and wrists is totally fine the essential oil should be fine to use in a diluted blend for back massage or a very light blend for full body massage.  The oil should also be fine diffused into the air for short periods of time (like 5-10 minutes).

What about children?
Essential oils can be of great value when used appropriately for someone experiencing asthma in their life, including children over the age of 7.  I’m hesitant to recommend this for smaller children less than 7 years old because the essential oils might be too strong for them, which could create even more constriction in the lungs trying to keep them out. 

If you do have a child under 7, try placing 1 drop of essential oil on a tissue or cotton ball and leaving it near them for 20-30 minutes.  Watch for any adverse reaction and remove it immediately.  If the child relaxes and breaths easier, it is fine to use this 1 drop method about every 1-2 hours as needed.

5 Best essential oils to use:
You’ll notice that Khella, Blue Tansy, Inula, and Grindelia are heavy, strong oils.  Because of this you only use a very small amount.  These first 4 oils all combine beautifully with Hyssop decumbens, however they are too heavy to combine well with each other.

Khella, Ammi visnaga

Blue Tansy, Tannacetum annuum

Inula, Inula graveolens

Grindelia, Grindelia squarrosa
is a nice choice, especially if any coughing is involved. This is the plant that the main western medication for whooping cough is made from.  Its effect on the lungs is very direct.

Hyssop, Decumbens
variety.  Note that Hyssop Officinalis (non-decumbens variety) does have mild toxic properties and should only be used by an experienced aromatherapist.  The decumbens variety is not toxic and is safe to use with children.  This oil works best in combination with one of the above 4 oils.

Essential Oil Nebulizer

How to use them:
NEBULIZER: The best method is using an essential oil nebulizer. These are usually a little on the pricey side (I’ve seen them anywhere from $75 - $400) however they are worth it when you need something strong and fast.  Place 6-10 drops of the essential oil(s) above in the nebulizer, turn on for short periods of time, refresh the oil(s) as needed.
You must watch to see when the person starts to relax and breathe easier.  Once this happens, you can turn the nebulizer off.

·         For children, usually 5-10 minutes is long enough.
·         For adults, 5-20 minutes should work great.

Use the nebulizer as needed, usually once every 1-2 hours at the most.

You can also place 1-3 drops of oil(s) on a cotton ball and place it near the person.  This works great for small children or even adults to improve sleep.  It’s especially nice if you either can’t be concerned with needing to unplug the nebulizer, or if there are other people/animals in the area that are bothered by the essential oils.

Generally, the air diffusion method is preferred, however applying a well diluted blend to the sternum (chest bone) can be used.  Be sure to watch for signs that it is too strong, as the essential oils are heavy and lingering. 

A small diluted amount can also be worked into any or several of the following acupressure points:  Lung 1, Lung 2, Lung 6, Lung 7, Lung 9, Pericardium 6, Conception Vessel 13, Stomach 36, Bladder 13, Bladder 14, Bladder 23.  Acupressure combined with the Nebulizer is very effective.

What to expect:
When you have the right oil(s) that the person responds really well to, you should notice a very quick improvement in breathing and overall relaxation. This will often be 30 seconds up to 2-5 minutes.  This naturally allows the person to rest quietly and comfortably so their body can kick in its own healing resources.

If for any reason symptoms worsen, immediately remove the essential oils from the area and provide fresh air.

What if symptoms don’t improve?
If symptoms do not improve or worsen, see your Medical Doctor.  When the lungs are constricted to the point that oxygen absorption is not adequate, this is a very serious condition.  There are conventional treatments that are fast and highly effective.  It’s much better to use them and accept side effects, if any, than not to when the situation warrants it.

Additional Therapies: 
Chinese medicine works with the whole person.  There are excellent methods of identifying the underlying cause, often damp or phlegm related, and working to re-balance the body so the interior environment is no longer conducive to the symptoms.  Acupuncture is highly recommended, and there are also specific QiGong exercises that internally massage and strengthen the lungs.

Learn tons of great information from my On-Line Essential Oils Course series. You can study here at our school in Alaska from anywhere in the world!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Massage and TCM for Frozen Shoulder Syndrome FSS

Frozen Shoulder Syndrome (FSS) also known as adhesive capsulitis, rarely is a result from an underlying illness or pathology. It is fairly common affecting 2-5% of the population and is considered a medical enigma, once cured rarely comes back to the same side. It is often misdiagnosed and Western Medicine defines it as “a stiff shoulder with less than 50% of normal range of active and passive motion in any direction.

 The initial phase maybe characterized by an exquisite sharp catching spasm either spontaneously or due to trauma and pain at night, by phase II the night pain has gone away but ROM has decreased further.

The shoulder ball and socket joint is surrounded by a fluid filled bag containing 35-70ml of synovial fluid. During FSS the capsule thickens and becomes tight, fluid levels drop to 5-10ml of fluid, this is a 75% decrease in fluid. Stiff bands of tissue (referred to as adhesions) may start to develop in and around the capsule due to inflammation. Inflammation may start in the groove behind the biceps tendon, (long head of the biceps also known as the rotator interval).

The stiffness is due to an over reaction of the body to the inflammation. The body then switches off the muscles of the rotator cuff in a coordinated fashion. Without treatment this condition will last an average of 30 months (3yrs). This is fascinating as the body will eventually recover if you are too lazy for the possible treatments that will be discussed later.

The stages are as follows:
I) pre-freezing 0-4 weeks II) Freezing 1-8 months
III) Frozen 9-16 months IV)Thawing 12-40 months

FSS is more common in diabetics as 10-20% of the population are affected as opposed to 2-5%, this is due to the accumulation of sugar and alcohol in the tissues and specifically collagen. It is also more common in women than men 60%-40% and of course more common in women going through menopause.
A major factor causing FSS according to Janet Travell, author of “Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual” are trigger points in the subscapularis muscle. The subscapularis muscle is one of the four muscles that comprise the rotator cuff. This muscle attaches to the inner surface of the scapula and to the front of the humerus, mainly responsible for holding the humerus in place during arm movements.

Trigger points are sensitive nodules in musculature that cause referred pain. Research shows that the pain referral pattern for the subscapularis is as follows: Pain concentrates on the back of the deltoid, extends back over scapula, then down the back or side of upper arm, pain skips forearm but appears again as a band around the wrist with more intense pain on the back of the wrist.

During phase I a person can reach up but experiences pain reaching backwards so FSS can be referred to as pitchers arm. This article goes into healing with acupuncture and it refers to SI-3 located on the side of the hand, this point is used to alleviate shoulder and upper back pain around scapula. It also stresses having good posture and not slouching or collapsing forward.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
The Chinese term for FSS is “wushi jian”, 50yr shoulder referring to the typical age of onset of the disorder. The Chinese Medicine patterns of FSS are as follows:
  • wind-cold-dampness invading
  • kidney and liver deficiency 
  • and Qi and blood stagnation. 
The meridians associated with the pain referral path of FSS correlate to the Fire Element. Indicating that the fire meridians are weak and not able to warm the shoulder area enough. The invading wind is related to the Wood Element, so these are two elements that you could start looking at while evaluating your client. An herbal formula would contain herbs to vitalize and nourish the blood while dispelling wind and warming the meridians.

One of the earliest Chinese reports of acupuncture for FSS was published in 1991. Zhang Maohai focused on on Pt (yang ling guan) GB-34 located on the leg, needled on the affected side only. He used a deep insertion needling technique (2.0-2.5 cun deep). Followed by rotating and thrusting to get the Qi reaction, needle in the Pt for 30min and maneuvering the needle every 3-5 mins while patient was attempting to move the shoulder joint. The selection of this point is interesting, traditionally GB-34 is indicated for treatment of lower limb disorders, but effects of this Pt are also thought to extend upward along the GB meridian which traverses the costal region of the shoulder. GB-34 is indicated for soothing and moistening the sinews.

Another distal Pt for FSS is ST-38, Tiao kou, located 8 sun below ST-35, one finger width lateral from the anterior border of the tibia. ST-38 is indicated for shoulder pain and specifically adhesive capsulitis. The local Pts proven to be effective for FSS are SI-9 through SI-15, a key point being bing feng SI-12, found at the attachment zone for the shoulder capsule. These points are located over the entire scapula and costal region.
Shoulder issues and specifically FSS will be a common syndrome that clients will come to Massage Therapists with. Alaska Institute of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture and Massage Therapy teaches a massage treatment for FSS that involves acupressure points.

The protocol is as follows and can be incorporated into a full body massage or just a spot treatment for the affected shoulder.

Warm up the affected arm and hand then treat the Large Intestine (LI) pain pathway: LI-11 located at the elbow crease 8x, move down to the belly of the brachioradialis LI-10 8x, move down 1 cun to the flat tendon LI-9 8x, then down to LI-4 at the thumb crease mountain 8x. Do this pattern 3x then connect LI-11 with LI-4 8x. Then work directly over the scapula on the affected side with the Small Intestine acupressure points SI-9-SI-15 8x each 3x through.

The information presented in this article should provide you with some good guidelines to get you started on your own research.


1) Frozenshoulder.com Neil-Asher technique

2) Acutakehealth.com "The Cure for Frozen Shoulder That No One Talks About" by Sara Calabro

3) "Treatment of Frozen Shoulder Using TCM" by Subhuti Dharmanada, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon

4) Alaska Institute of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture & Massage Therapy, Cynthia McMullen, TCM Instructor

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Massage & TCM for Asthma

Asthma is a chronic lung disease which makes lungs have inflamed and narrowed passageways. It can also be life threatening. According to Western medicine, Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. Recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing are caused by it. Usually the coughing is worse in the evenings and/or early morning. Asthma can affect people of all ages, but most often begins in childhood. There are over 25 million people affected by asthma in the United States with 7 million of them being children. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed with diet, exercise and avoiding the factors that trigger symptoms.
Genetics, allergies, respiratory infections, as well as environmental are all factors that play a role in the development of asthma. People can be born with asthma. If a parent has it, their children are likely to develop it as well. Certain respiratory infections in young children (and in utero) can cause long-term damage to the lungs and result in asthma. Because the immune system is just developing, children are more susceptible to the role the environment plays with asthma as well. Asthma can develop from contact with allergens, irritants, and exposure to viral infections.

Asthma is diagnosed by the doctor asking for a complete history on symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, periods of chest tightness, colds that took more than 10 days to get over, as well as asking about family history and what things seem to trigger the symptoms or make them worse. The doctor will listen to the lungs and also do a test called Spirometry which checks the airways. This test measures how much air and how fast air can be blown out of the lungs after taking a deep breath. The results of the test will be lower than normal if the lungs are inflamed and narrowed or if the muscles in the lungs are tight after the test is completed. Medicine may be given during the test to see if lung function improves.

When a person with normal functioning lungs breathes, the airways are unrestricted and open. There is nothing irritating them, so the air is able to flow freely. A person with asthma has more difficulty breathing because the airways are swollen and sensitive. When a trigger is exposed (such as animal dander, cigarette smoke, colder weather, dust, chemicals, etc), the airway reacts and the muscles around them tighten. This narrows the airway and causes less air to flow into the lungs. The swelling can get worse, making it even harder to breathe. The airways then fill with mucus and air cannot leave the lungs.

A person may experience breathlessness, coughing, chest tightness and wheezing as they are trying to force air out of the lungs. Medicines that can provide short term emergency relief are called bronchodilator inhalers - such as Albuterol or Ventolin. A bronchodilator is a substance that dilates the bronchi and bronchioles which decreases the resistance in the airways and increases airflow to the lungs. This is only short term relief. Long term relief will come in the form of medicines such as corticosteroids, which reduce the swelling of the airways and makes asthma attacks less likely to occur.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, asthma is called “"xiao chuan", which means wheezing and difficulty breathing.
They are both two different symptoms and have two different treatments. It is believed to be caused by deficiencies in the lungs, spleen and kidney from birth or from living an unhealthy lifestyle along. In someone with a family history of asthma there is more kidney organ weakness. With others that have a diagnosis of asthma, they also have digestion problems which can include ear infections, upper respiratory infections and asthma.

The production and storage of phlegm in the lungs is from stagnation of water circulation, which is caused by the imbalance of yin and yang in the lungs, spleen and/or kidneys. Excess phlegm in the lungs is the main cause for asthma attacks. Diet, emotional disturbances, illness, external pathogenic factors (such as cigarette smoke, pollen, etc) as well as heat and cold can be triggers for an asthma attack as well.

There are four patterns of asthma. They are cold type, hot type, lung & spleen Qi deficiency type, and kidney deficiency type.
1.      Cold Type – A feeling of fullness in the chest, watery thin sputum, shortness of breath, not thirsty.

2.      Hot Type – Wheezing, coughing, thick yellow sputum, redness of face, thirsty.

Treatments for these are the use of herbs taken orally, food therapy (specific recipes that are eaten for each type of pattern), auriculotherapy, cupping and acupuncture, with the preferred points being LU-5 through LU-9 for asthma treatments. Intense exercise is not recommended as exercise should be performed at a slower pace, such as with Tai-Chi and Qi-Gong.

Massage is also very beneficial to asthmatics, since it increases pulmonary function. It is contraindicated when the client is experiencing symptoms of an asthma attack.

Good asthma control can prevent chronic and troublesome symptoms, reduce the need for quick relief medicines, help maintain good lung function, maintain a normal activity level, and prevent serious asthma attacks. Avoiding triggers or anything that can worsen asthma is important. Knowing the normal range for peak flow meter readings (a device that shows how well the air is moving out of a person’s lungs) and recording them, is also helpful. Doing these activities along with a healthy diet, can help people with asthma live normal, active, healthy lives.
Food Therapy – Recipes

Ginger Rice Soup: (Cold Type Asthma)
Fresh ginger: 9 grams Cut into very small pieces.
Apricot kernel:  6
Sweet rice: 50 grams
Cook sweet rice and apricot kernels together in water at low temperature; when the rice is very soft, the soup is done. Add ginger to the boiling soup before serving.
Take as breakfast and part of dinner.

Single herbal tea: (Hot Type Asthma)
Kuan dong hua (Coltsfoot Flower) or Kuan dong ye (leaves): one teaspoon –Boil in one cup of water for 30 minutes. Add a little honey to taste.
Niu xin cao: (Cyathula Officinalis):  mix one teaspoon with one cup of boiling water for 10 minutes.  Drink as tea with honey.

White Fungus Mushroom Soup: (Asthma w/Lung & Spleen Deficiency)
White fungus mushroom: soak in warm water for 30 minutes, then tear it into small pieces
Rock sugar: 60 grams
Chicken egg: one (egg white only)
First, cook the mushroom and sugar in water until the mushroom is soft, then filter the mushroom out while the soup is still boiling. Gradually add the egg white into the soup, stirring the soup at the same time. Then serve.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Gastroparesis and Massage

Gastroparesis literally means stomach paralysis. It is a condition where the stomach takes too long to or cannot empty. The muscles of the stomach and intestines are not working normally and affect about 5 million people.

Can massage help?
Yes it can, I have read a few blogs and I have a client with Gastroparsis. I was already including an abdominal digestive massage for my client, to which she noticed the difference right away. Then I read the blogs raving over the digestive massage. J I have also added essential oils and tuning forks to certain acupressure points during the massage to help enhance the flow and hopefully increase the effectiveness of the massage to reduce the symptoms of abdominal pain and bloating, nausea, and the emotional pain that goes along with that.

of Gastroparesis
are unknown, usually is a secondary cause in systemic diseases below
-          uncontrolled diabetes,
-          Hypothroid
-          Injury to or pinched vagus nerve
-          Viral Nerve
-          Medications, narcotics or anti depressants
-          Nervous systems disorders like Parkinsons or Stroke
-          Multiple Sclerosis
-          Depression (referenced only in TCM)
-          And other rare conditions such as - Amyloidosis, scleroderma
-          Can also be caused by viral infection
-     Heartburn or “GERD”,
-     Nausea,
-     Vomiting undigested food,  
-     Feeling full quickly when eating,
-     Abdominal bloating and pain,
Poor appetite and weight loss,
-     Unstable blood sugar levels
-     Brain “fog”.
  • Food that stays in stomach to long can ferment lead to growth of bad bacteria
  • Food in the stomach can harden and solidify into a “Bezoar”, which can cause obstruction in the stomach limiting the food to pass into the small intestine
  • People with diabetes and Gastroparesis have more difficulty controlling blood sugar.
  • Blood tests  to test blood sugar levels
  • Barin X ray
  • Radioisotope gastric- emptying scan - Radioactive substances swallowed  
  • Gastric Manometry –  a tube is sent down the esophagus to the stomach and meaures the speed of digest
  • Electrogastrography -  Speed of digest through electrolosis
  • The smart pill  - speed of travel through the digestive system
  • Ultrasound
  • Upper endoscopy – a thin tube down the esophagus that examines the stomach lining.

Treatment is very limited and there is no known cure in western medicine. Gastroperisis is normally associated with other diseases and considered as a complication of such, like diabetes and hypothyroidism.
Suggested options of treatment would be to look at diet. Fats cause delay in metabolism as with high fiber vegetables, for example cabbage and broccoli. On the other hand liquids and warm substances speed up metabolism. Small frequent meals with soups or smoothies would be the best for people with Gastropersis. You can add the higher fats into the smoothes and the higher fiber vegetables into well cooked soups! I have heard and read “become friends with soups and smoothies”
The third option for treatment is to medicate to “turn on” the stomach churn (muscle) and speed up metabolism.
Last and final option is surgery which includes procedures to empty and lastly to bypass the non-empting stomach.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees this condition as a Wood/Earth disharmony. Wood and Earth are two of five Elements looked at in TCM. Gastroparesis is sometimes diagnosed as Food Stagnation. I have also found that the stomach is not only where food is digested but also ideas, thoughts and emotions. This follows what the Chinese believe.

The Chinese Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of everything in your body, including your emotions and digestion. So when that flow of anything is impaired the Chinese Spleen, responsible for digestion of anything is weakened and therefore compromised.

So what came first the chicken or the egg? Does it matter? NO!! In TCM the general disharmony is harmonized therefore resolving all symptoms!!  To compliment this theory the Chinese see the Liver as the seat of the emotion “anger”. Western psychology and Chinese theory suggests depression is anger turned inward therefore flow is restricted!!

TCM treatment
An herbal formula can be prescribed for Gastroparesis is Xiao Ban Xia Jia Fu Ling Tang (Minor Pinellia with Poria Decoction)   
Formula Action
-          Harmonizes the Stomach
-          Stops Vomiting
-          Dispels Phlegm
-          Regulates water circulation
-          Disperses Stagnation
Acupuncture or acupressure is also helpful with dispersing stagnation and harmonizing flow. 
These points are suggested CV 14 (disperses phlegm), 
                                      CV 12 (Alarm-Mu point for stomach) 
                                      St 36 (Rectifies stomach and spleen and other intestinal conditions)
                                      St 25(Alarm-mu point for large intestine)  

Diet on the TCM side would consider foods that calm the wood element down and then help strengthen the Earth element all dependant on the clients condition at the time.
And once all Five Elements are back in balance condition should rectify itself with client able to function a healthy normal life!! :-) 

Blog. Adventures with Gastroparsesis
Blog. Dr Shan Kong acupuncture