Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dr. Duckworth's Update: Stories from IAALM Trip to Joplin

Dr. Duckworth recently traveled to Joplin, to tend to victims of the tornado, through the auspices of both Acupuncturists Without Borders and the NLTC-affiliated Institute of American Acupuncture and Life Medicine. Here are some questions and answers regarding that trip:

How did you become involved with Acupuncturists Without Borders?

An acupuncturist in Springfield who had previously done volunteer work with ACWB, called them. They came to Joplin/Springfield, established a relationship with the Salvation Army and taught a one day workshop on their treatment protocol to abaout 8 people in Springfield. The Springfield acupuncturist sent an email announcement to the President of the State Acu Ass'n whom had already been contacted by Jason, representing IAALM. That lead to my communicating with the practitioner in Springfield (Abba Anderson). Mary Wallis, L.Ac., a member of the Board of Directors of IAALM, went to Springfield and attended the workshop. It's a protocol I studied about 16 years ago and use some aspects of it in my practice.

When and how was the decision made (by either AWB, or yourself) to attend to patients there?
The day after the tornado, Jason and I talked about "doing something" because IAALM was founded to provide care to those who don't have access to proper care. Joplin qualified. When ACWB stepped up and got things rolling, it was easy to fall into line. The next step being: how we gonna do this? Then, just doin' it.

What was your initial thoughts on the damage, seeing it in person?
Incredulous. There was nothing in all my years of experiences comparable. I wasn't in 'Nam but that's what I thought of. I came into a town where several miles of everything had been blown away, blown up, like some major bombing of a big city.

What were your working conditions like in Joplin?
There were chairs where folk sat and received ear acupuncture and I did 'handwork' on shoulders and legs. The chairs were situated under a huge, open-sided tent covering many tables for people to sit and rest and eat meals (Salvation Army served 1200-1500 meals a day there); FEMA and other agencies had booths. There were large (4-ft. tall) fans blowing. It was HOT and very windy and dry and I drank many bottles of water.

Typically, what were the issues that you spoke to these patients about, in terms of their physical and emotional health?
I didn't ask too much, I listened a lot. They were all being treated for PTSS - they were (are) walking around in a daze. One man talked about working for hours to free someone buried, only to finally reach them and the guy was dead. The rescuer has nightly nightmares about not getting there in time. A lady was grateful for the daily treatment 'cause the treatments helped her bury 3 of her family members. One man about my age just paces his house every night, waiting for another tornado. He hadn't slept more than an hour a night for two weeks. One man rescued 30 people from the Kmart, his son rescued 10l; their backs hurt. Another rescuer tore his should muscle. But, mostly, they sat quietly and let peace settle in for 30-40 minutes.

Did you treat people who'd never had acupuncture before, or had they had some exposure to the treatments in the past?
Joplin ain't San Francisco. These people had no experience of acupuncture. One man I treated had come by the acu station every day for four days before he decided to try it. three hours later, he came back and asked if he could have another session. "YES!"

Of the stories told to you, which still resonate the most?
I don't know... the man who rescued 30 people; the lady who buried her family; the 71 year old who came on his motorcycle because both of his cars had been blown away and they still haven't been found. I think the ones who didn't talk had the heaviest stories.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

An Ancient Medicine Reignited

June is ‘National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month.’ This is quite appropriate when thinking of our health with respect to diet and the seasons of the year. The founder of modern medicine, Hippocrates, studied weather, the seasons and how climatic changes affected our health and the disease process. This has been lost since the development of pharmaceuticals; however, our ancestors, especially in Asia, knew that we are not separate from the natural world and that our health, in Mind, Body and Spirit, is intrinsically linked to the natural forces of nature.

I am blessed to have been shown an ancient way of healing, a way of looking at the world in a more integrated way. What we put into our mouths, which sustains our life, is the most fundamental part of health and healing.

There are two basic energies of the universe, Yin and Yang. We, as human beings, are not separate from this. In fact, we exist because these energies, concentrating (Yin) and expanding (Yang) interact together in such a perfectly balanced way to create and sustain life. When they are not in harmony together, dis-ease occurs, stagnation and inflammation arise.

We, at Natural Life Therapy Clinic, look at life and health from this perspective and attempt to help guide our patients according to the natural laws of our world. The warmer months, especially summer, are the more Yang/expansive times of year. We witness this in the natural world with the abundance of vegetation, of fruits and vegetables.

Ideally, we all would eat according to the season and climate we live in. The exceptions to this are if someone is sick, has a serious diagnosed medical condition, or has a compromised digestion system. What would this dietary practice look like? Let the natural world speak to you. Go to the farmer’s markets to educate yourself on what is growing now in late spring and throughout the summer. For general good health in the warmer months consuming lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and more raw food would be the focus of our diets. Some animal protein is fine, especially if you’re physically active, however, most of us need far less animal protein in the warmer months. The temperature is hotter so in order to create balance, focus on cooling foods. Cooling foods are raw food, fruits in general, and leafy vegetables of all kinds. Grains should be eaten year round because they, by their nature, strike a balance inherently. Save your heavier proteins, stews, root vegetables for the colder months; they warm you up.

As you pay attention to your body you’ll notice how your cravings change throughout the year, often during Doyo, the season in between seasons. This is the transitional time which lasts two to three weeks in between each season. So, listen to your body. If we get too far from following the laws of nature then there are repercussions. For some they may not show out for years, but for many your body will react to the imbalances in the following season. If one does not follow a more Yin (warming) diet in the wintertime they may experience some ill health effects in the spring or summer. This may show out as stronger allergies, digestive upset, or getting sick more easily or frequently. If you don’t adhere to a more Yang diet in the warmer seasons and burden your system with heavy, rich food, you may feel the repercussions in fall or winter. In the summer, due to its expansive, warm nature, you may not experience the effects of ‘wrong’ diet immediately, however, if you pay attention, you very well may see imbalances with your health in the following season.

Below I list any number of vegetables, fruits, grains, and lighter proteins that may be enjoyed in the warmer months. Again, if you have an autoimmune or digestive issue, or another serious condition and you’re not sure what role diet/foods may play, feel free to contact myself or Dr. Duckworth at Natural Life Therapy Clinic.

Top on the list in their balanced action in the warmer months are green leafy vegetables, including chard, kale, spinach, cabbage; also Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, arugula, artichokes, beets, mushrooms, snap peas and peppers of all kinds.

Fruits of the season: tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon and melons, berries of all kinds, grapes, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums and tropical fruits (pineapple, papaya, mango, bananas).

Many fruits and vegetables are naturally loaded with antioxidants, chlorophyll, fiber, vitamins and minerals, all of which can assist in balancing the body and mind, reducing inflammation and enhancing the immune system.

Grains ideally will be eaten in their whole form, i.e. brown rice, millet, quinoa, barley, oats; whole grain breads are okay too! We are better off focusing on lighter proteins in summer; fish of all kinds, especially wild salmon and combining grains and legumes (beans), which also gives you a nice protein hit.

As a general rule, sugars, especially in processed form, are over-expansive in nature, cause inflammation and the immune system to overreact. This is a challenge for all of us. I love my Ben and Jerry’s and margaritas…we can enjoy and indulge sometimes. Chew your food thoroughly, treat yourself and the food you consume in a sacred way.

We recommend Neel’s Pharmacy for questions you may have about supplements and pharmaceutical interactions. Patrice Neels Frieda, owner of Neel’s, is a kind, patient, knowledgeable health oriented pharmacist.

Best wishes,
Jason R. Hackler, L.Ac.;

Monday, June 6, 2011

Acupuncture Support for Joplin

Dear Reader,

As soon as Jason & I were aware of the devastation in Joplin, we asked, “What can we do?” We meant both individually as acupuncturists and collectively as the Institute of American Acupuncture (IAALM). We have answers to both of these questions and I am writing you to ask your assistance in helping us help others.
Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) is an international NGO headquartered in Albuquerque that provides trauma recovery services nationally and internationally. AWB has trained and guided volunteers in providing acupuncture services in post-Katrina New Orleans, post-earthquakes in Haiti, wildfires in California and Colorado, floods in Iowa and now this horrific tornado here in Missouri. On Saturday, May 28, AWB conducted an accelerated training program in Springfield, Missouri. The first volunteers began providing services in Joplin the next day. They stayed in a cabin at the KOA Campground and provided services in a church gymnasium. IAALM was represented by Board member, Mary Wallis, L.Ac. at the organization meeting & accelerated training and now we are partaking in a very meaningful expression of service, for which IAALM was founded nearly nine years ago.
Jason Hackler, Mary Wallis and Thomas Duckworth intend to go to Joplin and be part of the community acupuncture services being provided there. Closing down our practices to go give free services is costly, that goes without saying but the cost of transportation, food, shelter, first aid supplies, acupuncture supplies, hygiene and survival supplies will all cost. The shopping list provided for self-sufficiency is quite long and, quite frankly, if I can convince enough of you to make substantial donations, then IAALM will be able to help those practitioners who would volunteer if they had some economic help.
This is a brief call out for help. It is going to cost many thousands of dollars to put practitioners in Joplin. IAALM wants to sponsor at least the three practitioners who are part of IAALM. We also want to help AWB with its costs and efforts AWB has spent over $2,000 just to launch this effort and we want to help them with this expense. We also want to help any other practitioner who is willing to go to Joplin and partake in this effort.
You can send a tax deductable donation to IAALM (Institute of American Acupuncture & Life Medicine), 443 N. New Ballas Rd, Suite # 224, St. Louis, MO 63141 or go to our website and link to JustGive.Org and donate to the Institute on-line.
I know you are going to help. Thank you.
Thomas E. Duckworth, L.Ac.
Doctor of Kototama Life Medicine
Executive Director - IAALM