Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dealing with Stress in Difficult Times

By David Scrimgeour, Licensed Acupuncturist, Boulder, Colorado
Long before modern science started exploring burnout, the Chinese had already spent centuries observing what happens in people’s lives under different forms of stress. They called it ya li, which means a force that presses down. The Chinese recognized that ya li came from difficult times, an economic downturn, overwork, lack of sleep, poor diet, illness or exposure to heat or cold for too long. It could also come from experiencing emotions such as grief, sadness and even excitement. These stresses, they noticed, led to fatigue, frequent illnesses, digestive upset, depression, and eventually, to chronic states of illness.

The ancient Chinese recognized that it was much easier to treat and prevent serious illness before it became deeply rooted. To this end, they observed a person’s life force (qi), as well as his/her energy levels, the pulses, the brilliance of the eyes, and corrected subtle imbalances using acupuncture and herbs long before the onset of chronic disease. Certainly during difficult times, many people experience more stress than usual. That’s why it’s important to be aware of these influences before they affect your health. When you have your health and vitality, you can do anything.

For most people during times of stress, I recommend several things: 1) acupuncture — because it can relax the body and bring it back into balance better than anything else; 2) an adaptogen herbal formula such as Supreme Immune Tonic to support the adrenals and the immune system; 3) extra sleep; 4) regular exercise — get out and feel the energy of nature; 5) breathe and meditate!

With acupuncture and Chinese medicine, people are able to deal with the stresses of life even in the most difficult times.

David Scrimgeour, L.Ac. Acupuncturist & Practitioner of Chinese Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, 303 413-9596,


Monday, December 1, 2014

Acupuncture Explained, Part I

by David Scrimgeour, Acupuncturist & Chinese Medical Practitioner, Boulder, CO

Many people are aware of the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating pain and injuries. However, acupuncture has many broader applications, especially for preventing and treating chronic diseases. The meridians and functions of acupuncture were described over 2500 years ago in the Classic of Difficult Issues and the Classic of Internal Medicine. One quote says, 
Some people say that an illness that has persisted for a long time cannot be removed.  This statement is wrong. When someone who is experienced in utilizing the needles removes such an illness, it is as if he pulled out a thorn, as if he untied a knot, as if he opened what was blocked.”
Traditionally, acupuncture has been considered an important means for tuning the body’s energy —described as Qi , to both prevent and treat imbalances leading to disease. Qi is further described as the primordial energy or vital force that flows through the body and governs all bodily systems, organs and functions. When we are in true health, with mental, physical and emotional vitality, we say the Qi is balanced. Tuning the Qi resets the body and guides it back towards homeostasis. When it is even slightly out of tune or imbalanced, symptoms will occur. Often they are subtle and manifest as lower energy, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, irritability, anxiety, depression, problems digesting food (heart burn, acid reflux), skin breakouts or recurrent viral infections. These subtle imbalances show up months or years before clinical diagnoses can be made of more serious diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders or high blood pressure. Acupuncture can adjust these subtle energies at the first signs of deviation, bringing the body back into balance and helping to prevent chronic illness. If chronic illness is already present, acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas are some of the best treatments to guide the body back into health.

David Scrimgeour, L.Ac. has been practicing Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Boulder, Colorado for over 24 years. He specializes in chronic illness, cancer support, autoimmune disease, GI disorders, acute and chronic viral infections, women’s health, infertility, pain and injuries. Please call 303 413-9596 if you would like more information.



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Must-Have Remedies for Your Home Medicine Chest

by David Scrimgeour, Acupuncturist, Boulder CO,

As savvy consumers seek tried-and-true nostrums for common medical ailments, more of them choose to stock their medicine chests with natural remedies. And with good reason. Certain conditions, like the common cold, are best treated at the first sign of symptoms. If we wait to see our regular healthcare provider, the cold may become deep rooted and will then need the customary two weeks to run its course. Minor ailments hardly seem to warrant an office visit, and yet suffering through the symptoms until the immune system can rise to the challenge certainly lacks appeal. If only we could keep a collection of effective remedies on hand to beat these common illnesses.

Well, in fact, we can. Oriental Medicine offers a number of alternatives to Western over-the-counter medicines that provide a significant health advantage. Whereas the typical drugstore remedies tend just to reduce or mask the symptoms, often with some unwanted side effects, Chinese remedies, many of which were first documented 1800 years ago in the Shang Han Lun, or Treatise on Damage from Cold, engage the immune system and actually fight pathogens, which leads to a faster healing process.

To turn your medicine chest into an effective arsenal against everyday illnesses, stock it with the following condition-specific remedies.

Immune System
Ginseng & Astragalus (Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang). An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the Chinese practice this more than anyone. To this end, they enter the winter months with strategies to strengthen the immune system so the body will not be so susceptible to all those winter bugs and viruses. Start with this powerful immune tonic and you’ll find you have more energy and vitality and make fewer trips to the doctor’s office. Studies have show that the herbs in this formula boost the activity of both B and T cells, basically strengthening your defense system against unwanted invaders. dosage: 3 caps twice a day.

Many Asians also prepare tonic soups to warm the body and fortify the immune system. To whip up an immune boosting bowl, make your favorite chicken soup and add shiitake mushrooms, astragalus (huang qi), ginseng (white or red), Job’s tears (yi yi ren), lycium (gou ji zi), and red dates (hong zao).

Cold Nip: The important thing to remember about a cold is that you can knock it out in the first 24 to 48 hours if you treat it effectively. I use this balanced formula, which combines the herbs from traditional cold remedies from the Shang Han Lun with a potent antiviral herbal combination. Take this blend the moment you start sneezing or feel fatigue, chills, a runny nose, or a sore throat to prevent the development of a full-blown cold. dosage: 1 teaspoon every 2 to 3 hours until symptoms subside, then keep taking it for another day to make sure the virus doesn’t come back.

You can also find two other traditional cold remedies, Yin Qiao San and Gan Mao Ling, at most natural food stores. These are both antiviral in nature, but they often chill the body too much to be taken for extended periods of time. You can, however, take 4 tablets of either formula every 3 to 4 hours at the very first sign of a cold, for up to 4 days.

You can also augment any of these traditional remedies by taking vitamin D (2,000 mg/day), vitamin C (3 to 4 g/day) and zinc.

Gastrointestinal Problems
Agastache Formula (Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Tang): This classic formula works best for acute nausea, diarrhea, or indigestion caused either from overindulgence or a nasty intestinal virus. dosage: 3 capsules taken 3 to 4 times a day on an empty stomach.

You can use a similar patent formula, Curing Pills, for the same issues. You should find it easily in most health food stores. Take 1 to 2 vials of pills 3 to 4 times a day.

Cnidium and Tea Formula (Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao San): This ancient formula dates from 1110 and is used for acute and chronic headaches, including migraines. But you can also use it for the acute frontal headaches associated with sinus congestion or with a cold. This formula stops pain by decreasing inflammation and invigorating the circulation of qi and blood in the head. Traditionally taken as a powder mixed with green tea, Cnidium and Tea can now be found in capsule form with the tea already mixed in. dosage: Take 4 capsules 3 times a day as needed for sinus relief.

You can take 3 to 5 caps for an acute tension headache or 3 caps 3 times a day for a chronic headache until the symptoms disappear.

Traveler’s Blues 
Cold Nip and Pueraria Combination (Ge Gen Tang) Even with higher quality air purification systems on airplanes these days, we’re still exposed to dozens of viruses and who knows what else every time we fly. That, combined with jet lag and the stress of disturbances in diet, sleep, and exercise routines, creates an ideal scenario for catching a cold. To avoid coming home sick, take Pueraria Combination with you when you travel. Another of the ancient Shang Han Lun formulas, Pueraria Combination warms the body and raises the “wei qi” or the defensive layer that protects us from pathogens. Pueraria is also good for aches and pains, whether from an old injury or the flu. dosage: 3 capsules taken 3 times a day or 3 capsules a half hour before a flight and another two for every two hours of flying time at two hour intervals. Take 3 droppers of Cold Nip before boarding a plane and during the flight if over two hours -- the herbs will activate your "wei qi" and the antiviral herbs will protect against all the viruses encountered on the plane.

You should also take Ginseng and Astragalus (for the immune system), one of the cold remedies above, and (depending on where you’re going, i.e. India or any other third world country), a coptis formula (Huang Lian Shang Qing Pian), which works like an antibiotic in case of infection from intestinal bacteria.

Magnolia Flower Formula (Xin Yi Qing Fei Tang): If a persistent, untreated cold lingers and turns into acute or chronic sinus congestion, this formula generally brings relief. TCM practitioners attribute these symptoms to an excess of heat, and prescribe this combination, which includes magnolia flower (an aromatic herb with a strong, pungent oil content) to open up the head, reduce inflammation, and clear the pathogen from the nasal passages. A variant of this formula, known as Magnolia Flower and Gypsum can be used if there is fever or if strong heat symptoms (sweating, dry mucous membranes, sensations of heat, or a red tongue with yellow coating) are present. dosage: 3 capsules taken 3 times a day.

Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Cardamom and Fennel (An Zhong San, literally “Calm the Center Powder”): This is an ideal remedy for nervous stomachache, heartburn, acid reflux, or chronic gastritis. While diet changes may help regulate the high stomach acid levels that are often responsible for these problems, a natural antacid such as this cardamom and fennel blend will also dissipate the burning sensation in the chest or stomach that is oftentimes caused by stress. And unlike antacids, which simply control the symptoms, this formula works to balance the digestive system. dosage: Take 3 500 mg capsules 3 times a day or as needed.

Of course, we all know how eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and having a great attitude are critical to staying well. But in the event that sickness does arise, it’s comforting to know you’re prepared with natural remedies that really work.

All of the above products are available at natural food stores or at