Six Sounds

Liver   xū 嘘   xu

Heart   hē 呵   he

Spleen & Pancreas   hū 呼   hu

Lung   sī 嘶   si

Kidney  chuī 吹   chui

Triple Burner   xī 嘻   xi

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Iron Crotch Qigong 鐵襠功 7

鐵襠功  tiě dāng gōng

Iron Crotch Qigong strengthens kidney function, boosts yang energy, nourishes essence, and benefits the constitution. It can help with erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, male infertility, and aging.

Raising and lowering the testicles:

Sit comfortably and relax the whole body. Make the breath slow, long, smooth, and regular without straining while paying attention to the rising and falling of the abdomen.

Slip the index and middle fingers of each hand under the testicle on the same side. Breathing in, lift and press the testicles toward the opening of

From Wikimedia Commons

the pelvic cavity. Breathing out, relax the fingers and let the testicles descend. Repeat 9 times. You should achieve a slightly achy, distending, but very comfortable sensation. If it’s not comfortable, you are overdoing it.

Explore the opening first if you are not familiar with the territory. Start by placing the fingers of both hands around the lower border of the pubic bone, move fingers laterally and down to trace the circular opening formed by the boney structures. This is simply the opening where the penis and scrotum descended from the abdomen. Make sure you are pressing toward the opening and not the bones. (Sorry the diagram seems to feature a female figure, but you got the idea.)

This practice, as well as the ones described in Iron Crotch Qigong 5 and 6, nourishes essence, promotes sperm generation, strengthens life gate ming men and kidney yang.

This is part seven of a series on Iron Crotch. Although the movements appear to be simple, there are important subtleties that only reveal themselves in practice. Unless you are already well-versed in qigong, do not practice except under the guidance of an experienced mentor.


 

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‘Obtaining the qi’ 得氣 and ‘Arrival of the qi’ 氣至

Two Chinese terms are involved here: 得氣 ‘de qi‘, obtaining the qi, and 氣至 ‘qi zhi‘, arrival of the qi.

In current Chinese TCM practice, no differentiation is made between the two. ‘De qi‘ is generally regarded as essential to effective acupuncture. Qi is ‘obtained’ when the patient or the practitioner experiences certain needling sensations. To the patient, it may be a heavy, achy, distending, spreading, or

hand shaoyin meridian

electrical sensation under the needle. To the practitioner at the other end of the

needle, ‘de qi‘ may be similar to the ‘qi zhi‘ sensation most colorfully described in this passage from the Guide to Acupuncture Canon (1312 AD):

“Before the qi arrives, it feels light, slippery, and slack, like one is resting in a deep corner of an empty hall. When the qi arrives, the feeling is sinking, rough, and tight, as though a fish has swallowed the bait and is darting up and down in the water.” How quickly this happens has prognostic value because it’s an indication of how intact the zheng qi of the patient is : “If the qi arrives quickly, recovery will be swift; if it doesn’t, recovery will be slow.”

Ling Shu, however, has a quite different description of ‘de qi‘, obtaining the qi, vs. ‘qi zhi‘, arrival of the qi. Ch 1 says: “One must continue acupuncture until the qi arrives; when the qi arrives, one must remove the needles. The purpose of acupuncture treatment is to bring about the arrival of the qi. When the qi arrives, it’s as if the wind has blown away the clouds, exposing a bright, blue, sky. The treatment is then complete.

But what does the’ bright, blue, sky’ image mean? Ling Shu Ch 3 explains:

“Qi arriving means that that supplementing and draining maneuvers with the needles have restored qi and yin yang balance. Needles must then be removed immediately to avoid adverse effects.” ‘Qi zhi‘ therefore refers to the restoration of a state of balance and harmony, rather than sensations from the needle.

And what is ‘de qi‘ then? Ling Shu Ch 9 has this to say:

“The acupuncturist must first observe the patient’s body and qi. For instance, if the body is basically intact, but the qi is deficient and the pulse is restless, then miu ci method should be used. (Miu ci, literally, ‘wrong needling’, means contralateral needling. Needle the left side if the pathology is on the right side, and vice versa.)  This will gather the scattered qi and spread the stagnated qi. Body, mind, and spirit should be quiet, focused, one, free from distractions, so that intention is concentrated on the needle. In this way lightly needle and stimulate to redirect the spirit. Immediately stop when the qi arrives, thus guarding against the invasion of bad qi, and preventing the leakage of good qi. Balancing yin yang in this way is called de qi.”

From this, we can see that Ling Shu emphasizes examination, diagnosis, choice of technique based on diagnosis, understanding the rational for the choice; then a clear, one-pointed touch of one spirit to another via the needle to restore balance and harmony, and when this is accomplished, to end treatment without delay so to consolidate the good effects. All this, Ling Shu says, is the way of de qi. Understood in this way, ‘de qi‘ is not sensations from needling; it is both the method and the goal of proper acupuncture practice.

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How long do the needles stay in?

Ling Shu Ch 15 delineates the warp and woof of heaven, earth, and humanity:

The 28 constellations correspond to the 28 primary meridians. The total length of the 28 meridians is 1,620 cun. Ying qi travels 6 cun in the meridians per respiration. Therefore, it travels one complete cycle in 270 breaths. During that same period of time, the earth  travels 1/50 of the distance of its circuit around the 28 constellations. In one day and night, the earth completes one cycle around the 28 constellations, while ying qi completes 50 cycles through the 28 meridians.

While the ancient astronomy here may be abstruse, the intention is clear. It is a total integration of heaven, earth, and humanity. Events in these different realms correspond with each other. They occur together in a tightly woven matrix. With every breath we express the quality of this integration .

Since ying qi circulates through the meridians 50 times a day, each cycle takes 28 minutes and 48 seconds. It makes sense to allow for  a complete qi cycle in an acupuncture treatment. So, we can retain needles for about 30 minutes. Indeed, many acupuncturists, including Master Tung of the ‘Miraculous Points’ fame, use this as a guide for needle retention time. But that’s just one approach.

foot taiyin meridian

Ling Shu Ch 12 specifies different needling depths and needle retention times for each of the 6 foot channels. Points of foot-yangming, for example, should be needled 6 fen deep and retained for 10 breaths; points of foot-jueyin should be needled one fen deep and retained for 2 breaths. Prescriptions for the other four channels fall in between. Points of all hand channels should be needled no deeper than two fen and retained for only one breath. Furthermore, these prescriptions should be modified to fit each person’s condition such as size, height, and age, as well as the nature of the imbalance or disease.

So how long should the needles stay in? The question deserves consideration on an individual basis. Everything in an acupuncture treatment matters: it can make the treatment more effective, or it can make the treatment less effective. In any case, since the purpose of adjusting needling depth and retention time is to elicit the ‘arrival of the qi’, we can say that when the qi has arrived, the acupuncture treatment is done. But that is another story.

 

 

 

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Dietary Prohibitions

Continuing translation of chapter 24 of Essentials from the Golden Cabinet (Jin gui yao lue) by Zhang Zhong-Jing, a 1,700 year old text.

Liver organ meat, especially if it’s from an animal that died on it’s own, should not be eaten as a regular food.

Avoid eating heart because the heart houses the spirit, which will seek revenge later.

Do not eat meat or fish that doesn’t pick up dust or dirt when dropped on the ground.

Do not eat meat that floats on water.

Do not eat meat or fish that neither a dog or bird would eat.

Do not eat meat that doesn’t stir when roasted, but moves when touched by water.

Do not eat meat that has dark red spots on it.

Live animals whose flesh is hot to the touch and hemorrhaging should not be eaten.

Cannibalism will upset the spirit and the soul.

Do not drink cold water when eating fat meats and hot broth.

Eating spoiled rice or stinky fish will cause harm.

Do not eat animals that died (not slaughtered) with their mouths closed.

Animals that died en masse on their own died from an epidemic; they are poisonous.

Do not eat an animal that died on its own, found in a prostrate position with its head facing north. Eating it will kill the person.

Eating raw meats, or drinking milk to the full, will give rise to blood worms and white worms.

Eating beef from cattle that died in an epidemic disease will cause severe diarrhea and hard tumors to develop. Purging herbs should be used.

Preserved meat stored in an urn with rice and kept through the summer becomes poisonous. Eating it will cause kidney disease.

 

 

 

 

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Do’s and don’ts in food combination and preparation

Being an unscholarly translation of chapter 24 of Essentials from the Golden Cabinet (Jin gui yao lue) by Zhang Zhong-Jing, a 1,700 year old text.

Foods and drinks sustain our lives. Their flavors and the way they are prepared are very important. If foods are combined and prepared in a harmonious way, they promote health. They can even cure diseases. But if they are not, they can cause harm, and even lead to diseases. Not that the foods themselves cause disease, but some foods and cooking methods are incompatible with each other. Let’ say we cooked an herbal decoction of an antidote for poisoning. It should not be taken hot, because heat aggravates toxic reactions. An antidote should always be taken cold to have the desired effect.

Here are some do’s and don’ts that involve interactions between organ diseases, flavors, seasons, and the consumption of organ meats:

  • Avoid hot and spicy if one has a liver disease
  • Avoid salty if one has a heart disease
  • Avoid sour if one has a spleen disease
  • Avoid bitter if one has a lung disease
  • Avoid sweet if one has a kidney disease
  • Do not eat liver organ meat in spring
  • Do not eat heart in summer
  • Do not eat lung in autumn
  • Do not eat kidney in winter
  • Do not eat spleen in any season

Why should we avoid liver meat in spring? The reason is this: Liver qi is exuberant in spring; exuberant liver qi depletes spleen qi. Eating liver meat further strengthens the liver, which then exhausts the spleen to cause great harm. Further, introducing the dead qi of liver organ meat into the body when its liver qi is exuberant may injure the hun, the spiritual aspect of the liver. On the other hand, in the other seasons, when liver qi is not exuberant, eating liver meat will strengthen a weak liver. It will be the proper thing to do. The same rule applies to the other organs.

– to be continued

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Iron Crotch Qigong 6

鐵襠功  tiě dāng gōng

Iron Crotch Qigong strengthens kidney function, boosts yang energy, nourishes essence, and benefits the constitution. It can help with erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, male infertility, and aging.

Massaging the Testicles:

Sit comfortably and relax the whole body. Make the breath slow, long, smooth, and regular without straining while paying attention to the rising and falling of the abdomen.

Slip the pads of the index and middle fingers of each hand under the testicle on the same side. Lift gently. Place the thumbs on top, apply moderate pressure and massage the testicles with a side to side rolling motion, breathing naturally. You should achieve a slightly achy, distending, but very comfortable sensation. If it’s not comfortable, you are overdoing it. Repeat 81 times.

This is part six of a series on Iron Crotch. Although the movements appear to be simple, there are important subtleties that only reveal themselves in practice. Unless you are already well-versed in qigong, do not practice except under the guidance of an experienced mentor.


 

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The lotus is a natural symbol of transformation

Image from Marketa's Cancer Set Me Free blog

The lotus flower is a natural symbol of the transformative power of the human spirit. Rooted in a muddy pond, it is able to rise above it to blossom in glory, untainted by the turbid waters, in fact drawing nourishment from it. It’s ascension parallels the Daoist agenda of transformation from the base to the precious. The singleminded uprightness of its heavenward thrust also warmed the hearts of many a Confucian. To the Buddhist, it is the source of profound mysticism.

Virtually all parts of the lotus, from the root to the flower to the seed, are used for food or medicine by the Chinese.

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Iron Crotch Qigong 5

鐵襠功  tiě dāng gōng

Iron Crotch Qigong strengthens kidney function, boosts yang energy, nourishes essence, and benefits the constitution. It can help with erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, male infertility, and aging.

Kneading the Testicles: Enlivening Essence

Sit comfortably and relax the whole body. Make the breath slow, long, smooth, and regular without straining while paying attention to the rising and falling of the abdomen.

Closed Grip (Image from From Wikipedia)

Grasp the root of the scrotum with right hand with the thumb on top and the other four fingers underneath. In this position, the grip is on the root of the scrotal sac with the testicles protruding in front of the thumb and index finger. The penis is on top of the thumb. Apply firm pressure but without causing discomfort. Cup the left hand around the left testicle. Focus intention on the center of the palm and knead the testicle 81 times with a circular motion, breathing naturally. You should achieve a slightly achy, distending, but very comfortable sensation. If it’s not comfortable, you are overdoing it. Change hands and knead the right testicle 81 times.

Diagram from Wikimedia Commons

The grip made with the thumb and the index finger is called the tiger’s mouth. This movement ability is unique to humans (some primates can approximate), and is enabled by the energetics of a powerful qi mobilizing acupoint: he gu LI-4. The tiger’s mouth grip is strengthening and invigorating.

The acupoint at the center of the palm is lao gong P-8, one of the most important points for transmitting qi in qigong practice.

This is part five of a series on Iron Crotch. Although the movements appear to be simple, there are important subtleties that only reveal themselves in practice. Unless you are already well-versed in qigong, do not practice except under the guidance of an experienced mentor.


 

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Acupuncture Help for Scoliosis

Scoliosis is differentiated as functional or structural. It is functional when the curvature is caused by contracted muscles and the spine itself is intact. It is structural when the spinal bones themselves are involved. Functional scoliosis is easier to treat but even structural scoliosis is treatable because bones are in a continual process of renewal.

Scoliosis image from the Wikimedia Commons

Clinically, structural scoliosis always involve a functional element. The curvature of the spine throws surrounding muscles into imbalance. The muscles assume abnormal tonicities to maintain the functioning of the musculoskeletal body. This adaptive behavior can spread through the body. What started as a left-right imbalance soon causes front-back and top-bottom imbalance. The organs may also be affected because of the effects of the scoliosis on the spinal nerves. In Chinese medicine, there are acupuncture points along the erector spinae that are thought to have direct influence on each and every interior organ.

In my experience of treating scoliosis, the functional contribution is usually severe. This in fact opens up the opportunity to bring improvements to even hardened, congenital scoliosis. Treatment combines acupuncture with manual manipulation and focuses on relaxing the musculature and restoring balance. Very often, obvious straightening of the spine can be felt and observed at the end of a treatment. There is always some lapse back because the body falls back on its old ways. However, with continued treatments over a period of time, significant improvements can be achieved in straightening the scoliosis, and in the comfort and functioning of the body.

Reports on a functional and a structural case on my website

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