CBD in Chinese Medicine

By: Amanda Gawrysz, L.Ac., MSOM

With the growing awareness of CBD as a potential health aid, the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes may seem like a new concept in the western world; but it has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. In China, hemp is believed to be indigenous to the country and has been cultivated for 6,000 years. It has not only been used medicinally, but also in fiber production for rope, fabric, netting, and seeds used for food and oil. Hemp seeds are the most popular and most regularly used part of the cannabis plant in medicine today due to its laxative properties. Historically, however, all parts of the plant were used including the flowers, leaves, and roots. Besides the seeds, the flower is actually the most mentioned part in ancient Chinese medical texts. This is due to the higher concentrations of CBD and THC in the flowers compared to the roots and leaves. 

Historical uses of cannabis date back 2,000 years in Chinese publications. The Chinese Emperor, Shen Nung, who is considered the father of Chinese Medicine, produced the first book describing the healing properties of herbs. CBD which is derived from Cannabis sativa (known as da ma in Chinese medicine) was among the 50 fundamental healing herbs in his book. 

The benefits of cannabis were first described in Chinese medical literature in the text “Divine Farmer’s Classic of Materia Medica.” This text was published in the first to second century AD and is still in clinical use today. The text argues that prolonged consumption of cannabis “frees the spirit light and lightens the body.” The authors state that cannabis is able to “break accumulations, relieve impediment and disperse pus.” According to this text, cannabis has acrid and balanced properties. It is said to govern the five taxations (excessive use of the eyes, excessive lying, sitting, standing, and exercise) and the seven damages (over-eating, cold food and drink, climatic extremes, rage, fatigue, grief, and fear). It is said to benefit the five viscera (the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, and spleen), and to quicken the blood.

Taking CBD allows our bodies to go back into a state of homeostasis or balance and enables the endocannabinoid system to function at maximum capacity. Studies are showing that CBD and acupuncture work very well together. Acupuncture and CBD both release a chemical known as adenosine. Acupuncture stimulates the release of adenosine to increase the body’s capacity to tolerate pain; while CBD increases the ability of adenosine to fight inflammation which may cause pain. When used in combination, they both boost the endocannabinoid system, enhancing the body’s own tools for combating disease and fighting a wide range of physical problems including not only pain, but also mental illness, anesthesia, seizures, and spasms. 

Meridians are the pathways through which the life force (qi) travels through the entire body. Scientists are speculating that there is a direct connection between meridians and the endocannabinoid system, which explains acupuncture’s reputation for effectiveness. As Dr. Vincenzo di Marzo, lead researcher at the Research Council of Italy, said, “The endocannabinoid system so far is the only endogenous system of chemical signals that is involved in everything.” A Chinese medical practitioner may say that it manages our complete life force.

Acupuncturists stimulate the nervous system with the use of points and needles that help break up blockages in the meridians. This allows for the release of endocannabinoids that are needed to biochemically balance us out. On the other hand, CBD oil activates cannabinoids by stimulating the endocannabinoid system to produce homeostasis. Both operate on a cellular level.   

Furthermore, links are being found between the endocannabinoid system and opioid systems. They are found to share areas of the brain that are related to and control sensations of pleasure, reward, and pain. Both opioid and cannabis containing THC can produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation. These two systems can influence each other.

Scientists are beginning to discover that acupuncture and CBD oil therapy work very well together. Most studies looking at the relationship between acupuncture and the endocannabinoid system suggest that acupuncture stimulates or mimics endocannabinoid activity. The ultimate aim of Chinese medicine is to promote self-healing by restoring homeostasis, and this idea is not too different from the function of the endocannabinoid system. In fact, studies now suggest that one of the ways acupuncture works is through none other than the endocannabinoid system itself!


When choosing CBD oil it is very important to do research. Hemp is known to be a particularly absorbent plant and must be grown with organic hemp seeds in organic soil as it pulls toxins from the soil in which it is grown. At Mke MindBody Wellness, we are now carrying Will Allen’s Beyond Organic local cold pressed and full spectrum CBD oil that is cultivated and bottled with purity in mind. 


References:

https://cbdoilusers.com/cbd-oil-traditional-chinese-medicine/

https://www.hellomd.com/health-wellness/5a6267098425e40008273a32/how-acupuncture-interacts-with-the-endocannabinoid-system

https://www.marijuanabreak.com/the-use-of-cannabis-in-chinese-medicine

https://www.royalqueenseeds.com/blog-the-use-of-cannabis-in-traditional-chinese-medicine-n726


Scientific Research about Reiki

As Reiki becomes a more common healing modality in our society, many people wonder exactly what it is, how it works, and what evidence exists to show its effectiveness. For an introduction to Reiki, take a look at this short film that includes testimonials from practitioners and clients.

Reiki works by tapping into the human body’s electrical and magnetic fields. Our heartbeat is regulated by an electrical field that can be measured by an ECG or EKG, our brain produces a lower-level electrical field, and every cell in our body creates small amounts of electricity which contribute to a magnetic field, due to the positive and negative charges of the outer and inner cell walls. When you go to get an MRI scan, the internal mechanism producing the images of soft tissue is your body’s magnetic field (Thrane & Cohen, 2014). 

The job of a Reiki practitioner is to harness the client’s energy field and help move energy throughout the body to alleviate stuck points or energy blockages. Practitioners don’t cause the healing, they simply serve as a channel for the energy to move in the client. Many clients report feeling great relaxation and a release of tension through Reiki.  

McManus (2017) synthesized the findings of various studies on the effectiveness of Reiki compared to placebo treatment, and came to a few conclusions:

  • Reiki is a complementary therapy that is safe and gentle enough for fragile clients, illustrating its benefits in hospitals and hospice settings. 

  • 5 studies showed evidence that Reiki is better than placebo for inducing a physically relaxed state. Physiologically, Reiki reduces resting heart rate, increases heart rate variability, and lowers blood pressure. 

  • 3 studies provided evidence that Reiki can help people manage chronic conditions, as weekly Reiki sessions for up to 8 weeks resulted in reduced anxiety/depression and increased self-esteem and quality of life. 

Charkhandeh, Talib, and Hunt (2016) conducted a study on Iranian adolescents to assess the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) versus Reiki on mental health outcomes, and concluded that both treatments effectively improved depression scores. While CBT had a significantly larger treatment effect than Reiki, the authors urge practitioners to value the way Reiki enhances treatment outcomes, and highlights that Reiki could serve as an effective intervention for individuals who may not seek out CBT or other mental health therapies. 

If you’re curious about Reiki, consider reaching out to our Reiki practitioner, Jessica Franzen, at mkewellness.com. 

References

Charkhandeh, M., Talib, M. A., & Hunt, C. J. (2016). The clinical effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy and an alternative medicine approach in reducing symptoms of depression in adolescents. Psychiatry Research, 239, 325-330. 

McManus, D. E. (2017). Reiki Is Better Than Placebo and Has Broad Potential as a Complementary Health Therapy. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 22(4), 1051-1057. 

Thrane, S., & Cohen, S. M. (2014). Effect of Reiki Therapy on Pain and Anxiety in Adults: An In-Depth Literature Review of Randomized Trials with Effect Size Calculations. Pain Management Nursing, 15(4), 897-908.

Preparing for the Summer Celebrations

The Fourth of July is a holiday that often entails loud, food-focused social gatherings. Many elements of these celebrations can be stressful to endure. By highlighting some of the “triggers” you may confront in the next few days, we hope to provide a few coping strategies that will help you take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health throughout the holiday. 

Family Gatherings

Being with family and friends can produce a range of emotions and experiences for people, from feeling rejuvenating to challenging. If you fall into the latter category, here are a few ideas for preparing for family festivities:

  1. “Be like a Duck.” When someone interacts with you in a hurtful way, try to picture yourself as a duck, and their words as water rolling off your back. Try to remind yourself “this isn’t really about me.” 

  2. Gravitate toward family members or friends who make you feel more comfortable. As needed, limit interactions with difficult people and focus your energy on conversations that will feel more life-giving. 

  3. Check in with yourself and listen to your needs. If you need to take some space to breathe and re-center, or even leave the gathering early, give yourself permission to follow your inner wisdom.  Agree to a “check-in” time with your partner or set an alarm on your phone so you decide how long you would like to stay. Maybe it feels better to expect a two hour commitment ahead of time rather than an unknown time frame. Checking in while at the party can help relieve anxiety because you know there will be an opportunity to decide whether or not to stay longer- rather than just staying for an unknown amount of time.

  4. Think about people who make you uncomfortable and why. Excuse yourself to use the restroom if topics of conversation or feedback feels negative. Use that time to re-ground with positive affirmations and slow breathing. Resist the urge to fuel negative thoughts about yourself or others.

Picnics and Barbecues

Eating during social gatherings can be tricky and challenging if you have dietary restrictions or personal preferences that require intentional eating. When partaking in traditional Fourth of July meals isn’t in your best interest, try to plan ahead with a few of these ideas:

  1.  Don’t go to the event hungry! Eat a meal beforehand, or bring your meal to eat alongside the rest of your group. You will be less likely to succumb to the foods at the gathering (that may not nourish you in the way you need).

  2. Bring a dish to share that aligns with your needs and preferences--maybe you will inspire others by your food and beverage choices. 

  3. When you’re in a social situation where people are asking about your food habits, give a concise response and trust that you’re taking good care of your body. Remember that you do not need to convince anyone of your dietary choices and what you choose has nothing to do with what they choose for themselves.

  4. Trying to stay sober? Bring your own non-alcoholic beverage that feels celebratory. Maybe you find a recipe for a non-alcoholic mixed drink. Drinking can feel like an assumed behavior, but should never be expected. Plan ahead for this and stay true to yourself.

Firework Displays

People who experience PTSD are highly susceptible to the loud, triggering noise of fireworks and bright flashing lights. In a similar vein, some individuals and pets are more sensitive to things like large crowds, fireworks, and overstimulation. With this is mind:

  1. Remind yourself that having startle or upset reactions are normal, and try not to judge yourself harshly.  If the sound is too intense, bring along ear plugs (Even in large crowds this can help).

  2. Practice grounding techniques like slow, deep breathing, mindfully observing the situation with your five senses, or noting the details of your present environment as a reminder that you are safe. 

  3. Consider taking a drive outside the city, where you may even be able to watch the fireworks at a distance, or experience the beauty of nature. 

  4. Reach out for help if your PTSD symptoms worsen/interfere with daily life. 

Hopefully these tips prepare you for an enjoyable Fourth of July experience. Remember that these tips can help with birthday parties, baby/bridal showers, weddings, etc. If you are feeling anxious or apprehensive about upcoming social events, take the time to investigate why you are stressed. Once you think about the boundaries or strategies you can use at the party, you can relax and trust that you are going to have a good time!



References

Burn, S. M. (2018). Holiday Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Family Members. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/presence-mind/201811/holiday-strategies-dealing-difficult-family-members

Healthy You. (2018). How to manage PTSD on the 4th of July. Retrieved from https://www.peacehealth.org/healthy-you/how-manage-ptsd-4th-july