The Brain: The Key to a Full, Healthy and Exciting Life
Dec 11, 2015 03:15PM
By Rene Ng (DOM, AP, L.Ac)
This is a story that many of you have probably heard before. “In the midst of a war-torn battlefield, a group of soldiers was trapped in a ditch. Bullets whistled by as these soldiers lay low in the ditch, desperately seeking cover. Suddenly, a bullet richocheted off a piece of metal and struck one of the men in his chest. As he lay dying, his last thought focused on his mother, and, with his final breath, the soldier whispered, ‘I love you, Mom.’ At this same instant, thousands of miles away, a mother abruptly jerked awake from her deep sleep and exclaimed, ‘Oh, my God! My son was just killed!’”
How could that be possible, when these two individuals were separated by a considerable physical distance? This example illustrates the power of the mind—most of which remains untapped and unknown to humankind, as we speak. You see, the son was born of the mother and, therefore, shared a natural communication channel with her that only a mother and child could share. Their cognitive processes were naturally in tune with each other, so when the son died, his last burst of energy sent a thought wave to his mother. This transmission was so strong that it woke her up. We hear similar stories from twins and others who share intrinsic bonds.
We may not be aware of it, but the power of the mind can be readily observed throughout daily life and the events happening all around us. However, before we dive into this, we need to understand what powers a person’s mind—the brain. This organ is the central processing unit of the human body. It controls how we think, feel and react, as well as how our other organs function. Our intelligence, opinions, emotions, reasoning abilities orifinate in the brain. Therefore, in order to enjoy a healthy and happy quality of life, a highly functional brain is not only desirable—it’s essential!
Keeping the Brain Healthy
The brain is the body’s most important organ, as it controls all other organ and internal functions. It is composed of soft tissue that includes living cells and hormones. Though not a real muscle, the brain functions exactly like a muscle and can strengthen or weaken like a muscle as well. Keeping the brain active through stimulation and consistent use keeps it strong, while not using the brain causes it to become sluggish and lethargic. When the brain is active and strong, a person remains alert, sharp, extroverted and full of zest. Conversely, when the brain is dull and inactive, a person lacks focus, becomes fatigued and frequently exhibits signs of depression.
Keeping the brain strong is a straightforward process—healthy circulation is essential. As previously mentioned, the brain is made of living matter and acts like muscle. Therefore, just like all living matter and muscle, the brain required oxygen and nutrients delivered through the bloodstream, not only to function, but to survive. A brain with insufficient or poorly oxygenated blood supply is like being in a dimly lit, inadequately ventilated room. In response, an individual promptly becomes sluggish and depleted. Therefore, keeping a healthy and active brain is essential to embracing an active lifestyle.
Stimulating the Brain
So, how does one stimulate the brain? The key is to simply increase blood-flow to the brain. Causing the brain to process information, in essence, will increase its blood supply. This is especially the case when an individual delves in creative activities such as artwork, puzzles, dancing, mathematics, playing music and other related pursuits. In addition to proper diet, supplements such as Ginkgo Biloba and rosemary have been shown to stimulate the brain. Chinese herbal medicine is extremely effective at increasing brain power—particularly when used in conjunction with acupuncture.
Calming the Brain
While stimulating the brain is a positive endeavor, over-stimulation can produce unwanted side-effects such as feeling overwhelmed, suffering from panic attacks, and experiencing difficulty falling or staying asleep. The best method of calming the brain down is to engage in leisure activities, such as reading, meditation, casual walks, bubble baths and experimenting with certain essential oils. The ancient Chinese exercises Tai Chi and Qi Gong also work wonders in keeping the brain calm and healthy.
Effect of the Brain: Depression
In Chinese Medicine, depression is associated with a sluggish brain, resulting from lack of nutrients from the circulatory system. The organ is consequently weakened, and its functions become negatively affected. Also, in Chinese Medicine, the brain is closely associated with the kidney organ system, so its sluggishness typically reflects similar symptoms in the kidneys.
In Chinese Medicine, all organ systems in the body are individually associated with specific emotions—with the kidneys linked to fear and will. Therefore, an individual exhibiting a sluggish kidney system will often experience a heightened sense of fear, unwillingness to take risks and lack of strong will-power. The key in treating both these issues and depression is to strengthen the kidney system, while boosting blood-flow to the brain through Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture.
Effect of the Brain: Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an auto-immune disease in which the immune system attacks itself. Lesions (white matter) develop in the central nervous system (CNS) and will typically manifest on the brain itself. When this happens, the function or activity associated with the affected part of the brain will become impaired. In addition, these lesions can also cause the brain to send pain sensations down the limbs, causing a person to feel phantom pain, shooting through the limbs or even the entire body.
Effect of the Brain: Acupuncture
I am often asked by my patients, “How does Acupuncture work?” Well, two explanations directly correlate with the brain. Endorphins (natural pain killers) are released by the brain and travel to the site where needles are inserted. Therefore, in the treatment of pain and trauma, when needles are inserted strategically at the injured or painful site, an individual will experience pain relief, as these endorphins travel to the area being needled.
Also, scientists have found, through thermal scanning tests, that needles inserted at certain acupuncture points light up specific parts of the brain. Further study shows that those lit-up cranial regions actually reflect the organ, limb or bodily function an individual is being treated for. This explains why chronic ailments such as constipation, urinary tract infection (UTI), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), stones, high blood pressure, glaucoma, weak muscles and other medical conditions can be addressed through needles placed at special acupuncture points. These findings have been recorded in four thousand-year-old Chinese Medicine texts.
Effect of the Brain: Placebos in Healing
The other day, I had an interesting discussion with a medical doctor on the topic of the placebo effect in healing. WebMD defines “placebo” as “anything that seems to be a ‘real’ medical treatment, but isn’t—a type of fake treatment used by researchers during studies to help them understand what affect a new drug or treatment might have on a particular condition.” WebMD also defines “placebo effect” as “an individual’s response to a placebo treatment.”
The individual’s symptoms might seem to have improved or worsened as a result of the placebo treatment. In my discussion with this doctor, we mutually agreed that because an actual result—positive or negative—occurred, the treatment did, in fact, perform result-producing action. This relates back to the (unknown) power of the brain and its ability to heal when the right components align including will, belief and proper care. We concluded if the person did get better, even if it was through a placebo effect, what’s wrong with that? The fact remains the person got better. This also shows brain has power to heal the body on its own when steered in the right direction.
Effect of the Brain: Cancer Survival
In my clinic, I help several cancer patients in their fight against this deadly disease. The primary treatment options in mainstream medicine involve chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and potent medication. These create strong, unpleasant side-effects in the body such as nausea, extreme fatigue, hair loss and severe pain. Chinese Medicine—combining Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage, nutrition and cupping—has been shown to be effective as a natural option for the patients in managing their side-effects, as well as expediting their recovery from treatments.
I am often asked by cancer patients, “What are my chances of survival?” To which, my typical answer is “That depends on you.” When you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, who do you see? If you see someone who is determined to survive, maintains a positive outlook, and is committed to fight, then your chances of survival increase. However, if you see someone who has given up, feels depressed or resigned, and just wants the ordeal to end, then your prognosis likely will not be positive. The mind plays a crucial role in enhancing a cancer patient’s survival chances.
The Brain as a Healer
As previously mentioned, the brain is the human body’s central processing unit. So, when people keep their brains healthy, alert and optimally functioning, this aids in maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle—especially when battling chronic or deadly diseases. As we age, unfortunately, the body and its associated processes (organ systems, circulatory system, endocrine system, cardiac system and pulmonary system, for example) weaken and go downhill.
Eventually, if not addressed, our bodies will reach a point where health issues begin to surface and gradually worsen. If we wait until these conditions noticeably surface, they have already developed internally, meaning we have likely waited too long. Therefore, it is essential to provide as much health maintenance support as possible to counteract declining body functions. This will effectively help manage the aging process and address potential health issues before they occur.
Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years by the Chinese to maintain proper wellness, manage the aging process, and help individuals age gracefully and healthily. Many Chinese herbal tonics are used to strengthen organs—especially the brain—to achieve this. Everyone is encouraged to start taking control of their health while they are still healthy, rather than waiting until medical issues become apparent. After all, who doesn’t want to embrace an adventurous life, filled with excitement, memorable moments and optimal health? So don’t procrastinate—take action today towards that healing path.
Rene Ng, DOM, AP, L.Ac, is a board-certified, licensed Acupuncture Physician and Chinese Herbalist, based in Sarasota. In 2014, Ng was voted Sarasota’s “Favorite Acupuncture Physician” for the second year in a row, and he also earned the area’s “Favorite Anti-Aging Practitioner” distinction. For more information, call 941-773-5156 or email [email protected]