: Suffering from arthritis? Try out Tai Chi, a form of exercise which is regularly practiced in China, for a study says that it can reduce chronic pains.
An international team has found carried out the study and found that Tai Chi helps in mitigating the pain associated with problems like arthritis and lessen disability — in fact, it reduces pain with trends towards improving overall health.
Tai Chi is an exercise that is regularly practiced in China to improve overall health and well-being. It is usually performed in a group but is practiced individually at leisure, which differs from traditional exercise therapy
“The fact that Tai Chi is inexpensive, convenient, and enjoyable and conveys other psychological and social benefits supports the use this type of intervention for pain conditions such as arthritis,” lead researcher Amanda Hall.
Hall of George Institute in Australia and colleagues have based their findings on an analysis of systematic review and meta-analysis, the results of which are published in the latest edition of the ‘Arthritis Care & Research’ journal.
In fact, they analysed seven eligible randomised controlled trials that used Tai Chi as the main intervention for patients with musculoskeletal pain and found that Tai Chi improves pain and disability in patients suffering arthritis.
“It is of importance to note that the results reported in this systematic review are indicative of the effect of Tai Chi versus minimal intervention (usual health care or health education) or wait list control,” Hall said.
However, the researchers said that establishing the specific effects of Tai Chi would require a placebo-controlled trial, which has not yet been undertaken.
Q: All the people in my apartment block are afflicted by sneezing and skin allergies. Recently I discovered that a neighbour rears parrots. Could it be due to this?
A: Parrots and other birds can cause allergies. Mites that live on the birds’ dander or feathers cause the allergies. The problem will persist as long as the parrots are there. But if they are confined to his apartment, it is unlikely that the allergens will affect all of you. So, before you blame the parrot fancier, please check if there are other allergens in the environment. Many people are allergic to incense sticks, mosquito repellents, burning camphor, or pollen.
Q: My brother has schizophrenia. My parents do not want to have him treated as they are afraid of what our relatives will say if the news leaks out. They are also afraid it will hamper my marriage prospects.
A:Mental illnesses are due to biochemical imbalances in the brain. They are chronic illnesses, like diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis. They require medication, rehabilitation and regular follow up visits to a psychiatrist. Medication is also needed for rectification. Unfortunately 75 per cent of the people do not accept this. The mentally ill are often denied treatment by their families. You need to take a firm stand in this regard and insist on treatment for your brother.
Boils on my face
Q: I get painful boils (not pimples) on my face, and my arms and legs also. After a few days they turn yellow and burst, discharging blood stained yellow pus.
A: Some people carry an organism called Staphylococcus on their skin and in their nose. The bacteria live in harmony with the person. When the skin is injured, they get access to the deeper layers of the skin. They then form these boils.
Bacteria have cell walls that can be broken by certain chemicals like trichlorocarbanilide (TCC). Some soaps like Neko and Dial contain this compound. The total fat content of these soaps is adjusted to be lethal for these bacteria. Bathe twice a day using one of these. On the appearance of a boil, apply a bactericidal ointment like mupirocin or bacitracin after a bath. Apply the same ointment to the nostrils twice a day using buds. Eventually the frequency and intensity of the attacks will reduce.
Low back pain
Q: My mother has terrible backache and the doctor says it is spondolisthesis. Is surgery essential?
A: Spondolisthesis is a term used to describe the slipping forward of the lumbar (back) vertebrae on the sacrum (tailbone). The degree of the slip is measured through CT scans. Surgery is required if it is grade 2 or higher. She can try conservative methods like physiotherapy and a lumbo-sacral support belt initially. As long as she can manage, it may be better to do so as surgery has its own inherent risks. After surgery physical rehabilitation and exercises are essential.
Q: My daughter was born with the tips of two fingers of her left hand missing. The paediatrician said it is amniotic band syndrome. Will my next child also be affected?
A: The amniotic sac lines the inside of the uterus during pregnancy. The baby floats in this sac in a fluid called amniotic fluid. At times the sac ruptures in a place or two. This results in the formation of fibrous bands in the fluid. As the uterus grows the bands tighten. If it occurs around a finger, that may get severed (congenital amputation). The fingers can be reconstructed through plastic surgery. The condition is non-recurrent and your next child is unlikely to inherit it.
Reconstruction of the fingers with plastic surgery is the remedy.
Q: My father, 70 years, wants to join a Tai-chi class. Is that advisable? I have heard that it is a form of martial art from China which consists of hundreds of combinations of graceful and flowing movements.
A: Taught well by an expert and practised scientifically, Tai Chi improves balance, posture and strength. It provides flexibility and aligns painful arthritic and ageing joints. It also helps focus and improves concentration. Hence it has a positive effect on loss of memory, forgetfulness and mild dementia related to old age. The rhythmic breathing tones circulation, relaxes the mind, eases tension and aids restful sleep at night.
The advantages are many. In short, it is an ideal form of exercise for older people. You should be glad that your father wants to join a class.
Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine that originated in China over 5,000 years ago. It is based on the belief that living beings have a vital energy, called “qi”, that circulates through twelve invisible energy lines known as meridians on the body. Each meridian is associated with a different organ system. An imbalance in the flow of qi throughout a meridian is how disease begins. Acupuncturists insert needles into specified points along meridian lines to influence the restore balance to the flow of qi. There are over 1,000 acupuncture points on the body
Traditional Chinese medicine states that health is dependent on energy. If this energy flow is disrupted by infection, pain or anxiety then physical symptoms are triggered. By inserting fine, solid needles into these channels, the flow of energy – and the patient’s health – is restored.
As these channels are not mappable according to conventional western ideas of anatomy, acupuncture is sometimes considered unscientific. However, studies show it can trigger the release of endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers – as well as stimulate some nerve fibres that block pain. In skilled hands, acupuncture is safe and relatively painless. Most practitioners recommend six to eight treatments. Western medicine accepts its benefits for relief of pain-related conditions, such back problems and migraines, but it is also commonly used for other ailments, such as sinus and bladder conditions. A practitioner should be registered with the local health authority.
There are specific points best avoided in pregnancy although acupuncture is effective for morning sickness. It is often cited as helping people to quit smoking, and though there is little consistent evidence, withdrawal symptoms from other harder drugs may be lessened. More controversially, a report earlier this year in the British Medical Journal reported that women treated with acupuncture could increase IVF success by 65%.
Acupuncture is one of the best known of the alternative therapies. The FDA estimates that people in the United States spend more than $500 million annually on acupuncture treatments. Many people have insurance coverage for acupuncture.There are numerous theories about how acupuncture works. Some of them are:
*acupuncture stimulates the release of pain-relieving endorphins
*acupuncture influences the release of neurotransmitters, substances that transmit nerve impulses to the brain
*acupuncture influences the autonomic nervous system
*acupuncture stimulates circulation
*acupuncture influences the electrical currents of the body
*It relieves migraines and tension headaches Resources:
A new study has revealed that mind-body therapies such as yoga and tai chi that cause interactions between the mind, body and behaviour can help elderly people get rid of chronic pain. The study published in Pain Medicine said that elderly people suffering from chronic pain can release themselves with eight mind-body interventions, which includes progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, hypnosis, tai chi and yoga.
The article finds evidence that, in particular, progressive muscle relaxation may be effective for older people with osteoarthritis pain, while meditation and tai chi appear to improve function and coping with low back pain and osteoarthritis.
Chronic pain is common among older people. Sufferers are often unable to receive adequate treatment because of limited physician training in pain management for the elderly and the increased likelihood of side effects from pain medication.
The trials we reviewed indicated that mindâ€“body therapies were especially well suited to the older adult with chronic pain,â€ concludes lead author Natalia E Morone, MD, MSc. â€œThis was because of their gentle approach, which made them suitable for even the frail older adult. Additionally, their positive emphasis on self-exploration was a potential remedy for the heavy emotional, psychological and social burden that is a hallmark of chronic pain.
Tai means great, Chi means spirit and Chaun means fist
Tai chi chuan is Traditional, Simplified and an internal Chinese martial art, often practiced with the aim of promoting health and longevity. Tai chi chuan’s training forms are well known as the slow motion routines that groups of people practice together every morning in parks around the world, particularly in China. Some medical studies support its effectiveness as an alternative exercise and a form of martial arts therapy. Tai chi chuan is considered a soft style martial art â€” an art applied with internal power to distinguish its theory and application from that of the hard martial art styles. There are many different styles of tai chi chuan, but most modern schools can trace their development to the system originally taught by the Chen family to the Yang family starting in 1820.
The Mandarin term “tai chi chuan” literally translates as “supreme ultimate boxing” or “boundless fist,” but may better translate to “great extremes boxing,” with an emphasis on finding balance between two great extremes. The concept of the “supreme ultimate” is the symbol of the Taijitu meant to show the principles of Yin and Yang duality of Taoist philosophy. Thus, tai chi theory and practice evolved in agreement with many of the principles of Chinese philosophy and Taoism in particular. Tai chi training first and foremost involves learning solo routines, known as forms ( taolu). While the image of tai chi chuan in popular culture is typified by exceedingly slow movement, many tai chi styles (including the three most popular, Yang, Wu and Chen) have secondary forms of a faster pace. The other half of traditional tai chi training (though many modern schools disregard it entirely) consists of partner exercises known as pushing hands, and martial applications of the postures of the form.
Tai chi chuan was created as a form of traditional Chinese martial arts of the Neijia (soft or internal) branch. Since the first widespread promotion of tai chi’s health benefits by Yang Shaohou, Yang Chengfu, Wu Chien-ch’uan and Sun Lutang in the early twentieth century, it has developed a worldwide following among people with little or no interest in martial training for its benefit to health and health maintenance. Some call it a form of moving meditation, as focusing the mind solely on the movements of the form purportedly helps to bring about a state of mental calm and clarity. Besides general health benefits and stress management attributed to tai chi training, aspects of Traditional Chinese medicine are taught to advanced tai chi students in some traditional schools. Some martial arts, especially the Japanese martial arts, use a uniform for students during practice. Tai chi chuan schools do not generally require a uniform, but both traditional and modern teachers often advocate loose, comfortable clothing and flat-soled shoes.
The physical techniques of tai chi chuan are described in the tai chi classics (a set of writings by traditional masters) as being characterized by the use of leverage through the joints based on coordination in relaxation, rather than muscular tension, in order to neutralize or initiate attacks. The slow, repetitive work involved in the process of learning how that leverage is generated gently and measurably increases and opens the internal circulation (breath, body heat, blood, lymph, peristalsis, etc.).
The study of tai chi chuan primarily involves three subjects. Traditional schools cover these aspects of tai chi practice simultaneously, while many modern schools focus on a single aspect, depending on their goal in practicing the art. These subjects are:
An unhealthy or otherwise uncomfortable person will find it difficult to meditate to a state of calmness or to use tai chi as a martial art. Tai chi’s health training therefore concentrates on relieving the physical effects of stress on the body and mind. For those focused on tai chi’s martial application, good physical fitness is the first step in effective self-defense.
The focus and calmness cultivated by the meditative aspect of tai chi is seen as necessary in maintaining optimum health (in the sense of relieving stress and maintaining homeostasis) and in application of the form as a soft style martial art.
The ability to use tai chi as a form of self-defense in combat is said to be the most effective proof of a student’s understanding of the principles of good Tai Chi. The study of tai chi chuan martially is the study of appropriate change in response to outside forces; the study of yielding and blending with outside force rather than attempting to meet it with opposing force.
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History and styles
Wu style being demonstrated at a tournament in Toronto, CanadaThere are five major styles of tai chi chuan, each named after the Chinese family from which it originated:
There are now dozens of new styles, hybrid styles and offshoots of the main styles, but the five family schools are the groups recognised by the international community as being orthodox. Zhaobao Tai Chi, a close cousin of Chen style, has been newly recognised by Western practitioners as a distinct style. The designation internal or nei chia martial arts is also used to broadly distinguish what are known as the external or wai chia styles based on the Shaolinquan styles, although that distinction is sometimes disputed by modern schools. In this broad sense, all styles of tai chi (as well as related arts such as Pa Kua Chang and Hsing-i Ch’Ã¼an) are therefore considered to be “soft” or “internal” martial arts. Many styles list in their history that tai chi was originally formulated by a Taoist monk called Zhang Sanfeng and taught by him in the Taoist monasteries at Wu Tang Shan .
When tracing tai chi chuan’s formative influences to Taoist and Buddhist monasteries, there seems little more to go on than legendary tales from a modern historical perspective, but tai chi chuan’s practical connection to and dependence upon the theories of Sung dynasty Neo-Confucianism (a conscious synthesis of Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian traditions, esp. the teachings of Mencius) is readily apparent to its practitioners. The philosophical and political landscape of that time in Chinese history is fairly well documented. Tai chi’s theories and practice are therefore believed by some schools to have been formulated by the Taoist monk Zhang Sanfeng in the 12th century, at about the same time that the principles of the Neo-Confucian school were making themselves felt in Chinese intellectual life. Zhang Sanfeng as a young man studied Tao Yin , Pinyin dÇŽoyÇn) breathing exercises from his Taoist teachers and martial arts at the Buddhist Shaolin monastery, eventually combining the martial forms and breathing exercises to formulate the soft or internal principles we associate with tai chi chuan and related martial arts. Zhang Sanfeng is also sometimes attributed with the creation of the original 13 Movements of Tai Chi Chuan. These 13 movements are in all forms of tai chi chuan. Its subsequent fame attributed to his teaching, Wu Tang monastery was known thereafter as an important martial center for many centuries, its many styles of internal kung fu preserved and refined at various Taoist temples.
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