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Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach to Joint Health

Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach to Joint Health

We care deeply about your joint health and mobility. This means we spend a lot of time thinking about, researching, and discussing the best ways to achieve and maintain flexible, mobile, and healthy joints.

If you browse our blog you’ll see a range of articles on topics such as How to Use a Tennis Ball for Sore Muscle Relief, How Exercise Benefits Whole Body Health, What is DOMS?, and Spice Things Up with Curcumin and Turmeric.

Each of these articles touches on a different aspect and approach to healthy joints, supportive muscles, and balanced life. These articles and the rest of the information on our website are all part of our commitment to providing you with a balanced and well-rounded information base on joint health, mobility, and living a balanced life.

And this is why we published this article about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and joint health. TCM is gaining more popularity and we’ve been receiving a lot of questions about TCM at trade shows, conferences, and other consumer events.

In this article we explain what TCM is and how it can be used to treat joint discomfort or pain. However, we want you to remember that we are not experts or proponents of TCM. Before undertaking any new type of treatment for your arthritis or sore joints, you must discuss this with your doctor. Remember, health is wealth – so take care to make the right decisions for your whole-body health.

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient system and approach to achieving health and wellness. This approach to healing the body has been used in China for thousands of years.

The difference between TCM and western medicine is in the approach to treating illness and healing the body. TCM considers every aspect of your body, environment, and energy when creating a treatment plan. Western medicine looks at the area of the body that is unwell, injured or diseased and focuses on treating the exact problem.

There are two central themes or ideas that guide TCM practitioners:

  • Qi: is life energy or vital energy. TCM experts believe that Qi runs through your body and it’s always moving and changing. Many TCM treatments focus on how to keep the flow of Qi in your body active and flowing.
  • Yin and Yang: these two opposites explain the key qualities of Qi. Yin is hot, light, feminine, day, and hollow. Yang is cold, heavy, masculine, night, and solid. To have optimum health you need to have a balance between the yin and yang of Qi. If one is out of balance, you can become sick.

Ultimately, TCM is centered around creating harmony between yin and yang, thereby allowing the healthy flow of Qi through-out your body.

TCM uses different treatment practices to deal with injury, illness, and pain:

  • Acupuncture: many physiotherapists, massage therapist, and other medical practitioners also use this treatment methodology. Very fine needles are placed carefully in your skin to help alleviate tightness, stress, and to calm various body systems.
  • Cupping: you may have seen photos of athletes with big circular bruises on their skin. This is from cupping – the practice of placing heated suction cups on the skin.
  • Herbs: various herbs, plants, flowers are combined to create teas, tinctures, and powders.
  • Meditation: more and more people are understanding how important the mind is in alleviating pain and managing illness. TCM uses meditation to help calm your mind, allowing your Qi to flow more freely and easily.
  • Moxibustion: dried herbs might be burned near your skin to stimulate the flow of Qi in your body.
  • Tai Chi: this martial art is characterized by slow controlled movements. These movements help strengthen your muscles, maintain flexible joints, and to calm the mind.

How is Traditional Chinese Medicine Use to Treat Joint Discomfort?

The Traditional Chinese Medicine practices of acupuncture, cupping, herbs, meditation, moxibustion, and Tai Chi can be used together or in isolation to treat joint discomfort or pain.

In TCM, practitioners believe that joint pain such as that of arthritis are caused by a blockage that prevents the smooth flow of Qi through-out your body. Because this blockage is associated with the bones, it is called Bone Bi. Bone Bi is a blockage that impacts the bones and joints.

Within TCM, the belief is that the cause of Bone Bi is environmental. Specifically, the wind, cold, and dampness can penetrate your bones, muscles, tendons, and joints – causing pain, reduced mobility, and stiffness.

When this happens, it is not possible for Qi to flow through your body freely, maintaining the balance of yin (hot, light, feminine, day, and hollow) and yang (cold, heavy, masculine, night, and solid).

The TCM treatment for joint pain is based on the category of Bone Bi causing the problems. If you do pursue TCM treatment for your joint discomfort, ask your TCM practitioner about Wind Bi, Cold Bi, Damp Bi, and Heat Bi.

Based on the type of Bone Bi causing the joint discomfort, the TCM treatment plan will likely involve a combination of:

  • Acupuncture: the needles are typically inserted into the affected joints and painful areas. This stimulates blood flow and circulation, helping to relieve the blockage that is causing the discomfort, inflammation, and stiffness.
  • Herbs: based on the type of blockage (Cold Bi or Heat Bi), a herbal remedy is used to eliminate excessive cold or heat in the body. When this happens, the joints can move more freely, and the stiffness is typically gone.
  • Exercise: like western medicine, there is a strong belief and understanding within TCM of the value of exercise to alleviate joint discomfort and pain associated with arthritis. Gentle exercise such as Tai Chi, swimming, walking, stretching, and cycling are ideal.
  • Diet: again, like western medicine, there is a strong knowledgebase in TCM about the importance of food in healing joint discomfort. In TCM, the best diet for treating joint discomfort is connected to the blockage type. For example, if you’ve got a Cold Bi, you need to eat cooked foods that are warm and contain anti-inflammatory spices such as Turmeric, cayenne, and ginger.

As with any change in how you treat your joint discomfort or arthritis, it’s critical you talk to your doctor first. When discussing TCM, it’s a good idea to ask about your options for all-natural supplements as well.

As always, the SierraSil team is here to answer any of your questions about how SierraSil works to support joint health and calm inflammation and any other questions about SierraSil, joint health, and mobility.

About the Author
Michael Bentley, President of SierraSil Health, has twice been recognized by Optimyz magazine as one of Canada’s top 100 health and wellness influencers and in 2019 was honored by the Canadian Health Food Association with the John Holtmann Industry Leadership Award. He is also a Trustee of the BC Sports Hall of Fame and past Board member of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, Family Services of BC and other non-profit organizations.

How Exercise Benefits Whole Body Health

How Exercise Benefits Whole Body Health

You know that exercise is key to helping you build a strong, flexible and mobile body. Along with eating a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, and avoiding smoking – a daily exercise habit is one of the best things you can do for your health. However, many of us simply associate exercise and its benefits with our physical bodies. We read articles about how lifting weights can make us stronger, how yoga keeps us flexible, and how running or cycling will help support our heart health. Often overlooked in these articles is how exercise benefits your whole-body health. Not only does exercise build your physical muscles, it also has tremendous benefits for your whole body health. From your brain health, digestive health, mental health, immune system health, and overall ability to withstand health hazards such as illness, chronic stress, or physical stressors such as falls, accidents, and day-to-day living – exercise is your go-to support system. The thing about exercise is that it has a negative reputation. Too many of us associate exercise with grueling high school gym classes or as something we have to do rather than something we want to do. As part of the SierraSil vision to see one million or more people live healthier and more active lives, we want to help you understand how exercise benefits you – inside and out.

How Exercise Benefits Your Entire Body

Beyond supporting your joints and giving you the muscular support to easily bend your knees, carry groceries, and play a game of tennis, exercise has so many trickle-down impacts that once you realize how great exercise is for your entire body, you’ll be hooked on making it a daily practice.
  • Brain boosting chemicals: your brain on exercise is pretty incredible. From releasing feel-good endorphins to boost your mood to helping alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression, exercise also helps stimulate the production of brain-deprived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a powerful brain chemical that stimulates the growth of brain cells. Exercise is primarily effective in supporting and encouraging the growth of brain cells in your hippocampus – the part of your brain responsible for memory.
  • Stress reduction: getting out for a brisk walk, run, weight-lifting session, or game of basketball is a great way to manage your stress levels. Exercise gives you a much-needed break from the stressors of work and home life. Just knowing that at the end of a busy work day, you have a yoga class or hockey game to look forward to, can make it easier to get through your day. Scientifically speaking, exercise increases the level of norepinephrine, a chemical that helps moderate your brain response to stress, helping you better deal with mental stressors.
  • Memory support: it’s a proven fact, as you age, your memory does decline. That feeling of walking into a room and forgetting why you’re in the room or forgetting long-remembered phone numbers or the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The aging process and diseases like Alzheimer’s actually kill of brain cells, causing your brain to shrink and lose important brain functions. Exercise cannot cure dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but it can help slow the brain degeneration that happens after the age of 45.
  • Sleep and relaxation support: sleep is so critical to your ability to recharge, recover and be ready for the next day. Serving triple duty, exercise helps you relieve stress, helps you fight depression and anxiety and in turn makes it easier for you to let go and relax. At its most basic, exercise helps you tire out your body, making it easier for you to sleep and even take afternoon naps.
  • Self-confidence booster: think of how great you feel after you’ve gone for a run or met up with friends for hike in the woods. There is a feeling of accomplishment for setting a goal and achieving it and this activity gives you confidence in your body. You know that your body can support you in your activity and exercise goals and routines. There are of course the feelings that come when you like what you see in the mirror – let’s not forget that exercise does help you build muscles and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Inspiration for others: have you ever watched the end of an Ironman triathlon or your local marathon? You see regular people, just like you, achieving overwhelming athletic and mental success. There is something special that happens when you see or read about a person who has overcome challenges and stayed focus on their exercise or sport-related goal. Now think of how you can do this for others – it might not seem like a big deal, but your daily walk can inspire your friends and family to be more active and healthy.
  • Problem solving and deep thinking: a walk, run, swim, cycle or weight work-out can do wonders for clearing your mind and help you get into a deep thinking and problem-solving mode. Many people use their daily exercise routine to help them work through challenges and even to tap into their creativity.
  • Immune system health: your immune system is key to protecting you from toxins, viruses, bacteria and illness. When you exercise you strengthen your heart, help flush bacteria out of your lungs and airways, change the antibodies and white blood cells to help your immune system better detect disease, and slow the release of stress hormones.
  • Joint health support: your joints are supported by muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other fibers. The stronger these supporting fibers, the more support you’re able to give to your knees, elbows, wrists, hips, ankles, back, and other joints. This makes it easier for you to move your body, develop joint health, and manage the impacts of conditions such as arthritis.
  • Social community: it’s very easy to become disconnected from friends and your social community. You go to work, come home, watch some television and repeat this daily. By joining a sports team or participating in a regular exercise group, you’re extending and broadening your social community, making it easier to make friends and feel connected to your community. This social community is super important to you overall mental and emotional health – we all need friends to talk to, hang out with, walk with, and rely on when we’re struggling.
Visit the SierraSil Facebook community and tell us how you’re going to move and exercise every day. Remember, this exercise doesn’t need to be exhausting – it should be something you can do daily and look forward to doing. Think of ways you can easily incorporate daily exercise into your routine: a walk at the end of the work day, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, getting involved with coaching your children’s sports team, joining a tennis club, taking out a membership at your local yoga studio, or getting out for a bike ride. There are so many ways you can make exercise a part of your daily life – the rewards are endless. We guarantee you’ll feel good about this new habit.

How To Keep Balance In Your Life

How To Keep Balance In Your Life

The holiday season is here. This means you’re busy. Really busy. Many of us thrive on being busy, but when the busyness takes over, it can be hard to keep balance in your life. For some reason, it happens every holiday season – you vow that this year will be different but before you know it, you’re busy every evening and even double-booked on the weekends. Add in shopping for gifts, planning holiday meals, and making travel plans – and you’re stretched quite thin. Suddenly your gym routine, Sunday family supper, evening walks, book club meetings, and afternoon nap are replaced with holiday busyness. Well, this year, we want you to stick to your vow – and make sure that this holiday season is balanced. This balance is super critical for your health and wellness. Skipping out on your regular tennis game or cancelling your evening walk with friends not only impacts your joint health but also your emotional health. Remember, the holiday season can be stressful, and you need time to yourself to manage the stress and emotional drain that comes during the holidays. In this article, we give you some tips on how you can keep balance in your life during the holidays (and through-out the year). We share these tips as part of the SierraSil company vision of helping one million or more people live healthier and more active lives.

Just Say No

Practice saying it out loud. Say the word “no” and then say it again. See, nothing terrible happened. There is nothing wrong with saying no. You can’t do everything and be everywhere. This means you have to say no and mean it when you say it. Think about what is important to you during the holiday season and keep this in mind when you’re asked to help out, attend a party, bake some cookies, or go on a shopping spree – be ready to say no to the offers that don’t mesh with your holiday priorities.

Plan and Prepare

Your gym workouts, morning walks, or evening basketball games are important to you. So, make sure that you stick to these activities during the holiday season. Plan ahead and make sure you’re not giving up your regular fitness routine or evening out with friends because of a holiday event. It’s especially important that you don’t miss out on your priority activities for holiday commitments that you’re not that interested in. If you’re going to miss a yoga session or book club night – make sure it’s for something very important to you. Remember, regular exercise and time with friends is important for your physical health and emotional well-being.

Be Picky

There are only seven days in a week. There are only 24 hours in each day. Think of these numbers when you’re crowding your calendar with numerous holiday events and activities. It might just be a quick trip to the local craft show but when you try to squeeze this in between doing groceries, baking holiday treats for the potluck, and decorating the tree – suddenly you haven’t got a lot of time left. So be picky. Choose the events, activities, and people that are most important to you. You cannot please everyone or do everything.

Keep Smiling

When you smile, you instantly feel better. Just the simple act of a smile can be contagious and make those around you feel better. Better yet, laugh out loud. You’ll feel fantastic and others will smile just by hearing you laugh. When the mall is crowded, and you can’t find a parking spot or when you can’t find that crucial ingredient in the overly busy grocery store – smile. Take a moment to ask a stranger how their day is going. Hold the door open, offer to help someone with their bags - spread small acts of kindness to others. This, after all is what the holidays are really all about.

Remember the Reasons Why

Why are you rushing from store-to-store or baking cookies at midnight or searching online for that perfect ornament or trying to attend three parties in one evening? Why are you making yourself tired and stressed out? Think about the spirit of the holiday season. Is this rushing and stress really what the holidays are supposed to be about? To help you slow down and focus on what makes you feel best during the holidays, jot down the names of the people most important to you and note how you’ll make them feel special this holiday season. This is your priority for the holidays.

Make Some Me Time

That walk, yoga class, knitting group, backgammon game night, and swimming session are all about you. This is a good thing. Make sure you don’t skimp out on this me time during the holidays. You need this time to keep yourself supported, soothed, and happy. This is what balance is all about. Finding and making the time you need each day to enjoy the activities and people that make you feel your best. When you’re able to maintain this through-out the holidays, you’ll be happier, less stressed, and actually enjoy the holidays more because you won’t regret missing out on your favorite activities.

Wishing You the Best

We want you to have a healthy and active holiday season. There is nothing better than spending time with your loved ones. Stop for a moment and take it all in – savor this special time and never take it for granted. The entire SierraSil team wishes you the very best this holiday season.