A NEW LOOK AT CANCER PREVENTION
A CRITICAL FACTOR: MANAGING STRESS
Article #2 in a 3-part series
Read Article #1: Promoting & Honoring Nature’s Rhythms
Managing stress is key to cancer prevention. As the title of this article suggests, the best way to deal with cancer is not to get cancer in the first place. As with many things, avoiding the problem is easier than dealing with it. I think of it like safe driving. If you are a safe driver, you will be less likely to get into a crash. It does not mean that you will not get into a crash; it just improves your chances at avoiding a crash. Important to this metaphore is: Safe driving is not a passive activity. You need to pay attention and be mindful of what you—and everyone else–are doing. In driving school, they even teach that if there are too many things going on in the street, it is wise just to pull over and wait until the activity diminishes. This is true with avoiding all health risks including cancer.
In Chinese Medicine, we view cancer as a failure of the immune system. Part of the work your immune system does is to defend your body from cancer. It does so on a daily basis. When immunity is diminished for any reason, cancer has an opportunity to become established.
ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS:
- Are you making yourself sick with thoughts which stress you out? Do you worry a lot? Do you waste time worrying about things that could go wrong?
- More importantly, do you want to change your negativity into a more neutral or positive focus that is better for your health and productivity? (Keep reading…your time will be rewarding!)
If you answered “Yes” to the first question, it’s time to change that behavior—as a cancer prevention (and other illnesses) strategy! Stress and anxiety have a deleterious and harmful effect on your immune system when it happens regularly. When your body is having the flight or fight response as a result of stress, it has a profound affect on your body chemistry. In response to stress, your body releases hormones which activate the sympathetic nervous system, increasing heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate. Your body is now ready for action–to run or fight. The immune system takes a significant down-grade while your bodily systems activate in response to what is considered an immediate threat to survival.
The fight-or-flight response can happen in the face of an imminent physical danger (such as encountering a growling dog during your morning jog) or as a result of a more psychological threat such as speaking in public, something that happens at your workplace or at school. In fact, your physical body does NOT know the difference between perceived and real danger. The brain response and chemical reaction in the body is the same. Perceived and imaginary threats create a response called “Brain Freeze”.
When we experience fear or anxiety, the amygdala region of the brain, your emotional center, jumps to attention and takes resources away from the executive decision-making function of the prefrontal cortex. YOUR IQ DIMINISHES, and there is a tendency to put off decisions, make poor decisions, or avoid making decisions.
Logic is suppressed by the powerful tunnel-vision-survival-reaction of the amygdala. Any strong emotion, fear, stress, anxiety, anger, joy, or betrayal trips off the amygdala and impairs the prefrontal cortex’s working memory. The power of emotions overwhelms rationality. That is why when we are emotionally upset or stressed we can’t think straight. The IQ level we need to thoughtfully consider decisions is temporarily depleted.
THE ILL EFFECTS OF CORTISOL
Cortisol is one of the hormones that is dumped into your bloodstream during a stress response, it is ordinarily anti-inflammatory and aides the immune response, but chronic elevations can lead to the immune system becoming “resistant,” an accumulation of stress hormones, and increased production of inflammatory cytokines that further compromise the immune response.
It is the long-term stress response that causes us the most risk of being immune compromised. Natural Medicine like Traditional Chinese Medicine is highly effective in helping diminish the stress response and returning the nervous system and brain back to a healthy balance. This actively supports the immune system to keep cancer cells in check. And since our immune systems deal with–and work to conquer–rogue, cancer cells every day, we MUST pay attention to managing our stress response. One highly-effective way to do this is to use acupuncture.
DOES IT HURT?
While many people have the belief or fear that acupuncture hurts, the most common response is that patients are completely relaxed and often comment that they have not been so relaxed in years. For most of us, if it hurts at all, it’s a tiny prick which dissolves almost immediately as the needles create magic: unleashing an energetic flow which restores balance and calmness. Acupuncture needles are the thickness of a human hair, and they barely enter the skin for these mental/emotional treatments. If you have never tried it, you are well advised to do so!
PROOF: ACUPUNCTURE RELIEVES STRESS AND ANXIETY
We have a large number of points dedicated to helping a person relax, reduce anxiety and release pent-up energy. These points have been used for a thousand years to help people get rid of anxiety and stress…to calm their nervous systems. If you have never had acupuncture for stress/anxiety, you would be quite surprised at the quick and long-lasting effects of one acupuncture treatment…and the buildup of this calmative state with a few treatments once a week. Let’s explore some examples to give you a sense of the breadth of this treatment.
Acupuncture is serious medicine. It works. Let’s explore two realms of mental health which have solid scientific studies which prove the efficacy of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
We often work with patients who have serious mental/emotional challenges, and the typical level of success is high with patients who work with us for a period of weeks or months, depending on the severity of the condition. Most of these patients work with their M.D. to wean off medications as their own brain chemistry comes into a healthy balance. Acupuncture is a gigantic, effective aid in this process.
Science Backing: From the National Institutes of Health, a 2013 edition of “Medical Acupuncture” . This is a revealing article which includes descriptive case histories of people who received mental/emotional healings using TCM. This is part of the Conclusion section of the article:
“TCM is consummately holistic. The mind, body, and spirit are inextricably linked. There are many advantages to viewing psychiatric or emotional disorders through this lens of holism rather than using a more-reductionist approach. Whether premised upon classical concepts of Yin and Yang and Qi or on modern ideas of autonomic modulation, TCM-based therapies do provide relief for patients who suffer from anxiety, depression, PTSD, sleep disorders, and many other conditions that plague the human mind and spirit.”
According to a German study done in 2002 entitled “Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy”, the positive results (a clinical pregnancy at 6 weeks) of patients using acupuncture was nearly double that of those who did not use acupuncture. Yes, we see a constant flow of these women in our office. Invitro and other procedures are both costly and emotionally-invested. It is WISE to invest some time and money into keep the nervous system calm and in good balance. Nature doesn’t think it’s a good idea to be pregnant if you are being chased by a tiger (e.g. the effects of stress in a woman’s body).
SPIRIT POINTS USED FOR STRESS/ANXIETY
There is a whole arena of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dedicated to psychological and emotional issues. Many of the points used in this practice are called spirit points. The translation of their name in to English literally uses the word “spirit”. Here are some examples.
HT-2 Qingling Green Spirit
HT-4 Lingdao Spirit Path
HT-7 Shenmen Spirit Gate
Kd-23 Shenfeng Spirit Seal
Kd-24 Lingxu Spirit Ruin
Kd-25 Shencang Spirit Storehouse
Gb-13 Benshen Root of the Spirit
Gb-18 Chengling Support Spirit
Du-10 Lingtai Spirit Platform
Du-11 Shendao Way of the Spirit
Du-24 Shenting Spirit Courtyard
Ren-8 Shenque Spirit Palace
Bl-44 Shentang Hall of the Spirit
Bl-52 Zhishi Residence of the Will
Traditional Chinese Medicine treats these issues not just with acupuncture, but also with herbs that can calm the mind and spirit. Traditional herbs have been used in this way for thousands of years and are very effective at helping patients relieve anxiety and stress.
OTHER STRESS-RELIEVERS WE RECOMMEND
There are so many holistic modalities and personal practices that we can use to manage our stress levels! Mindfulness and meditation practices are highly effective to help control and manage stress. At Lotus Blossom Clinic, we offer Crystal Bowl Meditations, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), Reiki, Crystal Healing Bed, Polarity Therapy, and several forms of Therapeutic Massage to help manage stress. Stress is a foundational factor in today’s modern life, and it is more critical now than ever that you manage the impact on your nervous system to prevent cancer and other serious illnesses, including the number one killer in America: cardiovascular disease.
Articles in this Cancer Prevention series:
Calming Energy to You,
Dr. David and Deb Martin
And all the Providers at Lotus Blossom Clinic
Serving the Greater Fort Myers area with Natural and Holistic Medicine: Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Massage, Science-backed Food as Medicine, Energy Medicine.
“Traditional Chinese Medicine as a Basis for Treating Psychiatric Disorders: A Review of Theory with Illustrative Cases”, Steven K.H. Aung, MD, OMD, PhD, FAAFP, CM,1 Heather Fay, MD,2 and Richard F. Hobbs, , III, MD, FAAFP, FAAMA 3 Med Acupunct. 2013 Dec 1; 25(6): 398–406. doi: [10.1089/acu.2013.1007]
“Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy”. Fertil Steril. 2002 Apr;77(4):721-4. Paulus WE, Zhang M, Strehler E, El-Danasouri I, Sterzik K. Source: Department of Reproductive Medicine, Christian-Lauritzen-Institut, Ulm, Germany.