Exercise: the miracle drug

By Clark Zimmerman, LAc.

The second week of January is the busiest week of the year at most gyms. After a period of holiday gluttony a great many people decide it is time to do something about their health and they go in droves to a gym in hopes of finding some kernel of inspiration that will catapult them into better health. As the month drags on people find that the same old reality of too little time and even less dedication derail their efforts. So it goes with so many attempts at exercise. Exercise has almost become a four letter word in our culture. People either do it with an over-exuberant gusto, or a guilty reluctance. A new article in Time magazine, written by Mandy Oaklander shines some light on why exercise is so important to good health and offers some suggestions about how to make exercise work for your individual life.

Though it has long been believed that exercise can improve quality of life and longevity, scientists are discovering just how much and in what ways exercise works as a medicine.  It improves immunity, cognitive function, depression, anxiety, sleep, bone density and of coarse strength and endurance. It can also slow aging, improve wound healing, shrink fat cells, and stabilize blood sugar levels. So if it is this great why is it so hard to get moving? The two things that most people mention when they talk about a lack of exercise are finding the time to work out and finding a workout routine that works for their particular needs. Clinically I find that many patients often don’t work out because they have such busy lives. After working and taking care of the house and family, there really doesn’t seem to be the time or energy to get to a yoga class or jump on the bike. However, emerging science is beginning to show that the longer (think hour or more) workouts aren’t necessary to get most of the health benefits of exercise. As little as 15 minutes of vigorous exercise can give you the benefits of what a more moderate workout can give you in an hour. This seems perfect for so many people that are “too busy” to exercise.  Everyone can find 15 minutes every few days.  Many people also report that they have trouble finding a workout routine that they like or are physically able to do. Fortunately there are ever increasing variety of options that fit all ages and levels of fitness. The internet is also making it easier than ever to do a quality exercise routine from the comfort of your home, rather than taking the time to drive to a gym across town.  Some people really get more benefit out of making it to a class or gym in person, but others may prefer the ease of an internet directed workout.  Studies are also proving that yoga, tai qi, walking, and gardening can offer as much benefit as pumping iron, cycling, running or swimming. 

The trick seems to be to do some type of cardiovascular exercise that get the heart pumping, as well as some type of strength training.  Luckily for some of us, walking counts as a cardio workout, and gardening can give you similar benefits as lifting weights.  The important thing is to do some kind of exercise regularly, preferably every day or two.  It is nice to know that exercise can be quicker and easier than ever before.  With the health benefits rivaling the best health care available it should make us all want to find a way to squeeze a little more exercise into our busy lives.

Continue Reading

Wei Qi-immune support

By Ann Zimmerman, LAc.

According to the wisdom tradition of Chinese medicine, our Wei Qi circulates on our body’s surface, protecting us from pathogens like bacteria and viruses.  This can be loosely related to how Western medicine views the immune system. In Chinese medicine, the belief is that viruses, bacteria and other pathogens are always present and generally non-threatning  to our health unless our Wei Qi has been compromised.

Compromised Wei Qi then leaves our body’s defenses weak against whatever pathogens one might be exposed to in daily life.  If a person keeps a lifestyle, such as an unhealthy diet or inadequate sleep over time, then they will ultimately deplete their body’s Wei Qi. Thus leaving them very vulnerable to developing illnesses.  In addition to how lifestyles can effect our Wei Qi is the variable  factor of extreme weather or stress.  Changes in weather, such as large swings in temperature, moisture or wind also weaken our Wei Qi.   On a windy fall day, a person with a poor diet who is lacking sleep, will most likely be a person who dealing with some stage of illness.

Stress also depletes our Wei Qi by fatiguing our ability to rest deeply. Often causing indigestion, anxiety, increased pain and insomnia. One of the great bummers of stress is that it does compromise your Wei Qi, often leaving us overwhelmed and sick, at the same time.

Preventing disease has been the center of Chinese Medicine, since its inception.

In the ancient Chinese text, the Neijing states, “To administer medicines to diseases which have already developed  is comparable to the behavior of those persons who begin to dig a well after they have become thirsty, and of those who begin to make their weapons after they have already engaged in battle. Would those actions not be too late? 

The fall and winter time tends to be a much harder time of year to stay healthy. If you know that

you are headed toward winter with compromised Wei Qi, please be good to yourself and start repairing your health before you get sick.  Start practicing better lifestyle habits; eat better, get more sleep, stay hydrated, exercise, and limit sugar. Start/resume taking vitamins and herbs that improve your health and reach out for help if you need it before you get sick.  We have seen a couple rounds of illness already pass thru the valley, if you are sick now or still not fully recovered consider using Chinese medicine to help restore your Wei Qi.  To your good health!

Continue Reading

The Truth About Opioids

By Clark Zimmerman, LAc.

My grandmother was never a fan of air conditioning.  I remember visiting her farm in the heat of summer and spending a lot of my time swimming in the pond, rather than sweating buckets inside the house.  Though my mom insisted it was because she had lived through the depression and didn’t want to spend the money, grandma insisted that air conditioning made you more sensitive to the heat.  “If you just learn to tolerate the heat, and drink iced drinks or go swimming” she reasoned, “than there is no real need for air conditioning.”  I thought of my grandma’s wisdom while reading a recent study by Peter M. Grace and Linda R. Watkins of the University of Colorado.  The study found that opiate pain medications, such as morphine, oxycodone, and Vicodin can have the “devastating consequences of making pain worse and longer lasting”.  Like my grandmother’s opinion of air conditioning, it seems that rather than effectively treating pain, opioids often can help us feel more comfortable in the short term, but can cause lasting sensitivity to pain.

As opiate addiction continues to grow in the U.S., and deaths from overdose by opioids become more common, people are beginning to ask if the benefits of opioids are worth the risks that are involved. This recent study is the latest bit of evidence that something needs to change.  The healthcare community is truly beginning to evaluate when to use opiate medications and when other treatment options would be more appropriate.  This latest research suggests that the conditions that can benefit from opiate use are not as numerous as we once believed.  In my practice, I have seen many people who began using opiate pain killers to treat a traumatic injury or a nagging condition with the belief that things would quickly improve and the pain medication would no longer be necessary.  When the pain lingers because their injury is not properly addressed or because their lifestyle that contributes to their pain is not altered, they become dependent on the medication.  This results in the unfortunate situation of needing more medication to achieve the same amount of pain relief, which can easily lead to opiate addiction.  Another thing worth mentioning is that the body experiences pain to help get your attention.  If, for instance, you tear a muscle lifting a heavy box, you feel pain so that we know to quit using that muscle until it heals.  If you cover up the pain with medication, sometimes it allows you to keep doing physical work that your body cannot perform.  This can often result in more damage to your body.

I believe that opiate pain medications are often prescribed when other treatments  such as ice/heat, rest, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic/osteopathic manipulations, physical therapy, or herbal preparations would be a better choice.  These treatments attempt to address the underlying problem that is causing the pain, rather than cover up the pain in general.  It seems that we are coming to a point as a society where this issue cannot be ignored any longer.  Opiate pain treatments do have a place, but only in very specific situations of severe and otherwise untreatable pain, and only under the close supervision of a skilled and attentive medical practitioner.  Not only is widespread opiate  medication creating problems in our communities, it now appears that it is largely ineffective.

Continue Reading

Practitioners

Clark Zimmerman, LAc, MAcOM
Ann Zimmerman, LAc, MAcOM
Ryan Baker, MAcOM, LAc, RPh

Hours

Mon–Thurs 9–6
Friday 9–4

Contact

Phone: 541-535-5082
Fax: 541-535-3026

Send Us An Email

Schedule Appointment