The Cost of Making Hay While the Sun Shines

Aching Back

According to data collected by fitness tracking applications, the average number of daily steps, as reported by those wearing a step counter, has steadily decreased during the current pandemic, by over 1000 steps per day. Of course, this is likely due to stay-at-home orders, the closing of gyms, remote working, and malaise. Countering this decrease in the average, as many of my friends report that when trying to get some or any exercise, they often increase the duration of what exercise they do get, which challenges their conditioning.

Another current phenomenon is that when people stay at home and have more time on their hands, they engage in various projects, many of which have been long neglected. These same friends report they have spent a lot of time gardening this spring and summer, cleaning out the basement or garage, fixing their gutters, cleaning all the windows in the house, and refurbishing their deck or patio, just to name a few. Perhaps, not surprisingly, these reports are accompanied by complaints of aging joints, sore muscles, and other minor aches and pains. In many cases, people are using muscles they have not engaged in a while or in a way that they are unaccustomed to using. Yes, weeding turns out to be a full-body workout! In Chinese medicine, we say these maladies are due to “over-doing” or “overstrain”.

Naturally, I want to help my friends. Offering them acupuncture can be problematic during these days of physical distancing, but fortunately there are several Chinese herbal remedies that can be prescribed without an office visit.

My first thought goes to Mayway’s new OTC liniments for external application. Bamboo Pharmacy® Relief and Recovery™ is for localized traumatic muscle injury and Bamboo Pharmacy® Mobility™ is for localized pain in the joints and the ligaments. Both rubs contain methyl salicylate, menthol, camphor & capsicum, which are FDA approved to treat pain. The differences between them are designated by the Chinese herbs which each contains.

Formulas and Liniments

Relief and Recovery™ invigorates circulation, alleviates pain and reduces local swelling from minor trauma in muscle tissue with Chinese herbs including Du huo oil and Hong hua and Tian qi extracts that Clear Heat, Invigorate Blood, Dispel Blood Stasis, alleviate pain & swelling, and expel Wind-Damp. Mobility™ alleviates pain, reduces joint inflammation & swelling, and supports the healing of joints & ligaments with herbs including oils of Ru xiang, Mo yao, and Chuan xiong that Move Qi and Blood, dispel Blood Stasis, Dredge the Channels, Drain and Expel Damp and regenerate damaged tissue.

Overdoing or overstrain can result in a patient suffering from Bi (Painful Obstruction) Syndrome, which can manifest as Wind-Damp-Cold Bi or Wind-Damp-Heat Bi. The simplest remedy is Plum Flower® Qi Ye Lian Tablets which contains only one herb, Qi Ye Lian (Schefflera arbicola). This herb Dispels Wind-Damp, Invigorates the Blood, Removes Blood Stasis, Opens the Channels, alleviates minor pain, and reduces inflammation.

In patients that have occasional, intermittent lumbar pain, which may radiate down into the hips, my “go to” formula is Plum Flower® Solitary Hermit Teapills (Du Huo Ji Sheng Wan). Unfortunately, this sort of condition flares when additional stress is placed upon a person’s body that is weakened by deficiency. This remarkable formula not only treats Wind-Cold-Damp Bi, but it also supports and tonifies deficiencies of Kidney and Liver Yin, Qi, and Blood.

Whether it is from over-doing from a long walk or kneeling in the garden, the knees and ankles especially can complain loudly. Of course, I have noticed after a long day in the garden, mowing the lawn, or weed whacking, that my wrists, elbows, and shoulder joints are also sore and inflamed. In such cases, I recommend Plum Flower® Joint Inflammation Teapills (Guan Jie Yan Wan), which function to relieve Wind-Cold Bi that transforms into heat or when there is underlying Damp Heat or Yin Deficient Heat.

Occasionally, overdoing or overstrain or even a simple accident can result in a traumatic injury that may include minor ligament, tendon, or muscle sprains and/or bruises. In these cases of Qi and Blood Stagnation, a Die Da 跌打 (literally “fall, hit”) formula is called for. Plum Flower® The Great Mender Teapills (Jin Gu Die Shang Wan) is without equal. This famous proprietary formula is comprised of 24 Chinese herbs which work together to Invigorate the Blood, Dispel Blood Stasis, Strengthen Tendons and Bones, alleviate minor pain, and promote regeneration of damaged tissues.

Let’s be careful out there and stay safe!

Bio: Skye Sturgeon, DAOM, L.Ac.

Skye is the Quality Assurance Manager and Special Consultant for Mayway, USA. Skye was the former Chair of Acupuncture & East Asian Medicine and core faculty member at Bastyr University, core faculty member and Faculty Council Chair at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and President and Senior Professor of the Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College, Berkeley. Before making Chinese medicine his career choice, Skye held various positions in the Natural Foods Industry for 12 years and prior to that was a clinical biochemist and toxicologist.
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