Over the course of years of treating human body, I’ve found close to 100% of people over the age of 35 have very stiff neck. Stiff and rigid neck often accompany migraines, shoulder pain, frontal sinus headaches, and eye pain. It’s hard to believe, but stiff neck is also directly associated with the lower back and sacrum pain. There’s an easy way to deal with these issues: self-massage the suboccipital muscles, behind your head.
I discovered this exercise only a few weeks ago after I did a frantic research on tinnitus for my patient. Turned out to be this “Beating the Heaven Drum” is an age-old Taoist Qigong exercise, practiced mostly by Taoist monks in northern China. This exercise is refuted to be a valuable tool in aiding and maintaining a healthy ear, hearing mechanism, and maintaining a clear mentality. There are two ways to do this exercise.
- Method 1
Take a moment to relax by breathing slowly and deeply sitting on a chair or on the floor. When ready, close the ear canal by pressing on the tragus (stick-out part in front of ear canal) with your index finger.
Tap gently on your index finger with the same hand’s middle finger, in a slow steady rhythm. Tap 12, 24 or 36 times and then release the fingers from the ears and rest. Tap both ears simultaneously or alternatively on each ear. Repeat the cycle three times. Ideally, you need to do this exercise one to three times a day, depending on the severity of ear ringing.
When tapping on the index finger, make sure you hear a hollow metallic drum-like sound. The pressure shouldn’t be too hard, but firm enough to elicit metallic sounds. The key is to maintain a relaxed state of mind, not rushing through the exercise, focusing on the maximum benefit not only for the ears, but for the entire body.
- Method 2
Take time and relax for a few minutes breathing in and out slowly. Close your ears by placing your palms over them, with your fingers facing towards the back of the head. Tap the back of your head with all eight fingers, OR place your index fingers right underneath the occiput (the pronounced protrusion of skull, slightly above the base of the skull), and then put the middle fingers over your index fingers and snap them down on the occipital bone.
The best results can be achieved through a steady pulse of beating. Again, tap 12, 24 or 36 times using either the alternating or simultaneous tapping. Repeat the sequence 3 times a day.
Some people report immediate relief with this exercise, while for some, it takes a few days to see a real impact. Repeat the tapping as long as ringing persists.
Note: Another excellent relief can be found by placing heated salt pouch (2 Tsp of heated salt in a cotton pouch) over the ears for about 10 minutes.
Let’s talk about about tinnitus a bit. Affecting one out of every 20 Americans, tinnitus (the Latin word for ringing) is a condition that causes unwelcome noises in the ears such as buzzing, clicking, whistling, or high-pitched ringing sounds. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, although its occurrence increases with age. Some speculate that usage of cell phones may have contributed to the rise of tinnitus.
Tinnitus is almost always associated with hearing loss. The sounds may be intermittent, continuous, or pulsing. It may interfere with normal activities, tend to get worse during the evenings and night. Causes of tinnitus include a degenerative auditory nerve, ear infections, neurological problems, sensorineural hearing loss, and Meniere’s disease. Some prescription medications and chemotherapy can also cause tinnitus. Well, that’s what western medicine says about tinnitus.
Chinese medicine, on the other hand, says that tinnitus (or any other hearing issues) is caused by:
- Kidney-Bladder network weakness, usually brought on by extreme fatigue caused by overexertion, lack of sleep, lower backache, and/or excessive sexual activity(interesting, isn’t it?). In modern days, drug usage and dependence on narcotics medications would certainly damage the kidneys.
- Negative emotions such as anger, frustration, resentment, and hatred disrupt the liver channel and become a “liver fire” over time. This “liver fire” rises up to the head and damage hearing.
- Overconsumption of cold and raw foods and dairy products promotes the formation of mucus, causing congestion and preventing proper nourishment of the ears.
Resolving any hearing problems, Chinese or otherwise, is a daunting task. It may be
because our ears are directly connected with the kidneys (they look strikingly similar) which are considered to be the deepest organs in our body.
Once the kidneys are damaged, it’s really difficult to restore the optimal health. Let’s figure out how Qigong exercise can help in resolving tinnitus.
A few months ago, a patient came in, complaining about clogged/blocked Eustachian tube, which she thought was caused by having a cold on a plane. A few days after her flight, she started experiencing ringing in both ears, which was getting worse daily.
Her ENT doctor has prescribed antibiotics, but neither clogging nor ringing was getting any better. We tried acupuncture, modified her diet, and used nutritional supplements, all of which helped only marginally. Then, she became dramatically better after I asked her to practice simple Qigong exercises called “Beating the Heavenly Drum.” First day, she said tinnitus went away about 50%; and it took about another 10 days to resolve ear-ringing all together. If you have ringing in the ears, you should definitely try this amazing Qigong exercise.
1. What to Eat
Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (except wheat). Favor enzyme rich foods, including papayas, mangoes, sweet potatoes, yams, figs, brown rice, oats, pearl barley, daikon radish, apples, parsley, coriander, mint, dill, rosemary, ginger, bay leaf, fennel, dill, oregano, cilantro, sage, and anise.
2. What Not To Eat
Avoid Wheat, Dairies, and Sugar as much as possible. If you can do this, you can win half a battle. If you get rid of these three items, all there’s left are protein, vegetables, fruits, fat, and non-wheat grains. Avoid acidic foods, such as tomatoes, coffee, tea, wine, citrus fruits, pineapple, rich sauces, cream, greasy and fried foods, processed foods, and alcohol. Vinegar is an interesting subject here as many natural doctors recommend apple cider vinegar to treat heartburn.
3. How to Eat
Eat slowly and in small amounts more frequently- you should leave the table only three-quarters full. Chew each bite thoroughly – remember that digestion begins in the mouth and that your stomach doesn’t have teeth. Eat with mindfulness – savor and be grateful with each bite and do not eat while stressed, angry, or preoccupied. Don’t watch television or read the newspaper while you eat, as the distraction takes energy away from the digestive system and makes its job that much harder.
4. What to Avoid
- Avoid lying down immediately after eating. Lying down enables the acid to reflux from the stomach into the esophagus. During a flare-up, avoid lying flat on your back when you sleep- instead prop up your head and upper body with pillows at a 45-degree angle.
- Certain drugs, including antidepressants and sedatives, as they can worsen heartburn. Talk to your doctor about alternatives. Avoid smoking, as nicotine is a muscle relaxant and can relax the esophageal opening in the stomach, making it easier for acid to spill into it.
5. Home Remedies for Heartburn
- Juice 1 large or 2 small white russet potatoes. Discard the pulp, mix the juice with an equal amount of hot water, and drink on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
- Juice 1 medium daikon radish. Discard the pulp, mix the juice with an equal amount of hot water, and drink once a day after eating.
- For really bad heartburn, dissolve 1 teaspoon baking soda in an 8- ounce cup of warm water for immediate relief.
- Make a tea by boiling 1 tablespoon licorice root in 3 1/2 cups of water Make a tea by boiling 1 tablespoon licorice root in 3 1/2 cups of water for 15 minutes. Strain, and drink 1 cup after each meal 3 times a day for 2 weeks. Licorice is neutralizing and helps with digestion.
Lastly, acupuncture can provide quick symptom relief and restore the natural flow of the intestinal tract. You may also need to consider nutritional support to support a healthy esophageal and stomach lining and normal gastric juice production.
Heartburn happens when the excessive food and liquid in the stomach churns up stomach acid which spills up into the esophagus and irritates the lining of the upper stomach and esophagus, as shown in this picture.
Heartburn is often experienced as pain, a burning sensation in the stomach or chest, abdominal bloating, gurgling, distention, or belching.
Let’s jump right into what Chinese medicine says about heartburn, or overall indigestion.Chinese medicine says there are three main causes of indigestion:
- Poor diet damages the spleen-pancreas-stomach network.
- Emotional turmoil stressed the liver-gallbladder network, slows down the digestive process, and potentially cause hiatal hernia by pulling the stomach upward into the diaphragm.
- Pathogens in a post-nasal mucus drip or food-borne microbes can invade the stomach, causing upheaval.
In a nutshell, Chinese medicine views heartburn is not just a digestive malfunction, rather it is a mixed bag of poor diet, emotional/psychological issues, and immune functions relating to sinuses. I can vouch for this theory as almost all of the heartburn patients I have treated demonstrated stress/anxiety syndromes, chronic mucus drips, and relatively poor diet patterns.
Many of us suffer from acid reflux or heartburn, especially we eat more than we can chew. Eating too much of fatty, rich, spicy or acidic foods, alcohol, or drinking a lot of coffee make things worse. Eating while stressed, on the run, or late at night are actually silent killers. Chronic heartburn or acid reflux is not a minor issue as it can easily develop into gastritis or esophagitis–the condition that erodes and ulcerates the esophagus, which can ultimately lead to cancer of esophagus. Let’s figure out what we can do to get rid of heartburn.