Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sorry, I’m needing to suspend this blog

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

My apologies.

I have had too many other commitments to keep writing this blog.

The pressures of earning an income, studying and writing another blog have meant that I haven’t had time to write this one.

I have repeatedly tried to find the time and have not been able to.

I shall return to writing this blog at a later date.

Once again my profound apologies.  I am very disappointed that I have had to do this.  Evan

An Awesome Post

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

This is a guest post Eric Grey (who is in America despite the spelling of his name) who authors a blog called Deepest Health.  It is a chronicle of his study of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  It has a wealth of content and is unfailingly well written.

This post is so great I wanted to post it in its entirety.  Unfortunately google punishes you for doing this so I’ll post enough to give you an idea of how good it is and provide the link.  It is about his commitment to become a scholar and sage as well as a practitioner of TCM.  It gives his commitment month by month for what this will involve.

1) January (GB) – Study/scholarship: Taking Confucian/neo-Confucian principles seriously means developing a serious and self-motivated attitude towards learning. Instead of being outwardly motivated, one becomes deeply interested in learning despite what rewards or penalties are associated with it. This doesn’t mean studying for no reason, or studying for the sake of studying. It means that one doesn’t study for grades, or for the sake of feeling clever. One learns to improve one’s own understanding and abilities, and takes this to be one of the most important activities possible. I will post later today about my current list of practices in this category.

2) February (LR) – Strategy/business: As physicians, we are likely to be in business for ourselves. Too often, CM schools neglect this topic in the curriculum.

3) March (LU) – Rest/activity: Sleeping and waking in time with the seasonal rhythms . . .

  • Set a sleeping and waking time for the month that is close to the cycle of the sun. Stick to it for a month, recording observations.
  • Regardless of the hectic nature of your schedule, take at least 45 minutes out of every day to simply sit and rest. Preferably do this in a beautiful atmosphere, free of electronic or other distractions.
  • When in a protracted period of stillness, such as when studying, break every 45 minutes to change position and relax your mind.

4) April (LI) – Care of planet/consumption:

5) May (ST) – Physical cultivation: 

  • Daily Qigong, Taiji, Yoga or martial art
  • Take a walk in the morning each day, begin with 15 minutes and increase by 2-5 minutes per day. Pay attention to breathing, and gradually increase the strenuousness of walking until you notice your breathing rate increase.
  • Begin some specific program of exercise, but be careful not to exercise to the point of tiredness.
  • Even something simple like doing isometric exercises at home and keeping track of progress could be a great practice – sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups?

6) June (SP) – Food choices: Moderation in food intake will help physical cultivation to be more effective.

You can join Eric (a couple of people already have) in his year of Living Sagely by visiting his blog, Deepest Health.  This would be well worth doing.  As would be leaving comments about what a great post this is.

Two new courses

Friday, December 21st, 2007

My friend Geoff Wilson is running two courses next year. His website is Art of Health, where you will find details of the courses. He also has a blog.

The first course is on food and health. The course covers all the important health problems and how to address them using the approach of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Food is an especially accessible way of addressing our health problems. We all eat every day, by eating the right food we can do much to promote a long and healthy life for ourselves and our family.

The second course is on oriental psychology. This is a much neglected aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In most acupuncture courses it receives almost no attention at all. Geoff’s course uses the Buddhist and Taoist classics to address our situation. It is earthed strongly in a tradition and is concerned with making a difference in the modern world as well.

Both courses begin in 2008 and he is offering a cut price deal for the first fifteen people who enrol. So check them both out at Art of Health, they could be just what you are looking for.

Both courses have recently received accreditation in the US for professional development points for Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners.

I think my decision is made

Friday, November 16th, 2007

I think my decision is made and here is how it came about.

Last night I went to a marketing seminar featuring two people from an Australian marketing company called mobium ( run by Aware Business (

They were speaking about a group of people who had firstly been labelled (mistakenly in my view) the ‘cultural creatives’.  This group is now known, more accurately in my view, as “LOHAS”, standing for “lifestyles of health and sustainability”.

This group, the LOHAS, group are defined by their concerns for three areas: health, the environment and social justice.  What this means is that those who turn up to Live Aid (are concerned for social justice) are more likely than the general population to be into ecology and willing to try alternative health (such as yoga or acupucture).  Likewise those who go to yoga classes are more likely than the general population to be concerned for ecology and social justice.  And so on.

This was a lovely moment for me: I felt that someone had finally put a name to my concerns and my approach.  I felt myself relaxing as I realised this.

One characteristic of this group is that they are concerned with authenticity.  It was then I knew that I couldn’t only have a paid acupuncture course on this blog.  It had never sat comfortably with me, but I didn’t know whether this was just sentimentality and delusion on my part.  I now know that it is actually a big part of who I am.

So that’s how I came to my decision about the way forward for this blog.  By being reminded of my core and ethics at a marketing seminar (who said God doesn’t have a sense of humour?  (To be fair Aware Business is a very different type of marketing company, so it’s not so much of a surprise.)

So this is my plan from here:

Keep putting up the content on this blog that will build into an acupuncture course.

To get some income I will be publishing some ebooks (the first one about what to expect at your first acupuncture treatment will be free.  The next will be for acupuncture students – a simple approach to point selection.  The third will be a concise introduction to the core of the theory of Chinese Medicine.  These are the ones I have planned for now, I’m sure I will think of others in time.)

Keep on designing a course in acupuncture using multi-media and discussion forums for which I will charge a fee based on membership for a particular period.  Probably monthly or quarterly.

So look forward to more content on acupuncture soon – I’m up to the meridians and will cover each one – hopefully at the rate of about one a week.

If you have any thoughts or responses about any of this, feel free to drop by and comment.

Decision Time is Getting Nearer

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Firstly, apologies for not having posted here for quite a while.

I’ve been thinking deeply about where to head with this blog.  I have a conflict between my need to make money and the energy for my ideals.  If I was sure this blog would make a million I guess I would have no problems doing it.  Likewise if I was a complete idealist I’d have no trouble finding the energy either.  The truth is I am a mixture.

The big decision is about the time and energy it would take to turn this site into an “interactive learning environment” with audio, video and fora.  I would charge (a bargain price) for access to this.  This would be a lot of work if no one was interested.  The other option is to have a very simple introduction to acupuncture theory and some suggestions about how the theory applies in life (essentially what I am doing now).  This is far less work but also of less educational value.  Also I don’t feel I can charge for access to this level of education.

I’m still inclining to the idea of doing both.  Putting the information out there in a simple and systematic format and charging for access to the interactive learning environment.  This basically means charging for access to me as teacher and the input of other students as well as the more sophisticated aspects of the environment (audio, video and fora).

On Wednesday, in two days, I have an exam; so, I won’t be making the decision ’til then.  Hopefully I will feel settled about what I want to do soon after this when I have a bit more head space to think.

Once again apologies for the lack of posts and thanks for your patience in bearing with it.  I’ll be back posting soon.

How my thinking is progressing

Monday, November 5th, 2007

I’m well into a course on teaching on line.

The idea is to set up a membership site with the course available – and using audio, video and discussion boards to make it a worthwhile learning experience.

At the moment I am playing with the idea of having acupunctureiseasy split into a free section where there would be text that would be enough to learn acupuncture from.  And the course with the audio, video, discussions and so one, which people would need to pay for.

All responses welcome.

Changing Direction

Monday, October 29th, 2007

I’m gradually getting clearer about where I am heading with this blog.

What I shall do is develop an interactive course.  It will have the text but also audio and visual content.  Along with all this there will also be discussion perhaps through comments or perhaps through a forum.  I am still refining the idea.

Having this clear I think I can now start writing again for this blog.

Evidence Based Medicine

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

There is a very funny article about the limitations of Evidence Based Medicine in that radical periodical the British Medical Journal.  It is an examination of the evidence for the use of parachutes.

One of the many highlights:

The parachute and the healthy cohort effect
One of the major weaknesses of observational data is
the possibility of bias, including selection bias and
reporting bias, which can be obviated largely by using
randomised controlled trials. The relevance to
parachute use is that individuals jumping from aircraft
without the help of a parachute are likely to have a
high prevalence of pre-existing psychiatric morbidity.
Individuals who use parachutes are likely to have less
psychiatric morbidity and may also differ in key demographic
factors, such as income and cigarette use. It
follows, therefore, that the apparent protective effect of
parachutes may be merely an example of the “healthy
cohort” effect.

It’s very funny – a wonderful read.  Enjoy!

Evidence Based Medicine: Yes and No

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Over the last decade of so there has been something of a propaganda war waged on behalf of “Evidence Based Medicine”.

I am generally in favour of this: there is far too much time and money wasted. I am in favour of getting people as healthy as possible as quickly as possible.

So Evidence Based Medicine seems to be clearly sensible. Who could argue against it? Well, me – partly.

When looked at closely Evidence Based Medicine has some weaknesses (as well as very great strengths). The weaknesses aren’t widely understood so I would like to draw attention to them here.

Firstly, there is what gets researched (and so has evidence to back it).

Imagine that I believe that eating garlic at 10am each morning will cause my neighbour to eat toast at midday. A sceptic will point out (quite rightly) that there is no evidence for this. And why not? Because no one (I hope) is loony enough to take this seriously. My point is that what gets researched – and so has a chance to become evidence is filtered. It is filtered through what is ‘common-sense’ to those doing research.

But what we regard as common-sense turns out to be flawed. The findings of sub-atomic physics are a cliché for how common-sense has been confounded. Likewise it is not common-sense to believe that pensioner bus passes are part of health policy (but they are: see Michael Marmot’s The Status Syndrome). And there is (now) very good evidence to say that they are.

This leads to the second difficulty with the evidence in Evidence Based Medicine. The evidence admitted is based on clinical trials – and these are expensive.

This means that the evidence is largely produced by government and very large corporations. Much of the research is directed to finding solutions that will make money (pills and so forth).

Most seriously this means that the diseases of the poor are not often studied and there is little research on them. Even the extraordinary amounts of money given by such philanthropists as Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation are only a tiny drop in the bucket.

In the ‘developed countries’ this means that low cost solutions – and pills that can’t be patented – receive less attention. Henry Osiecki has done huge amounts of research on treating medical problems with foods – but you probably haven’t heard of him (google him to find lots of stuff).

There is good evidence based research now (often thanks to universities) that shows things like: going for a walk is as good a treatment for depression as some drugs. And yet the pills are still more frequent than walking clubs.

Just because the evidence is there doesn’t mean that it will be acted on.

This is a third difficulty for evidence based medicine. It won’t necessarily change anything. This may be unfair – it’s not researches’ job to change things. But its advocates do want it to change how medicine is done. So this isn’t so much a criticism as just saying that it can’t do everything. It needs to be married with political savvy as well.

This leads to the fourth difficulty

What we find convincing is our experience. If evidence from thousands of others says otherwise, well, we may change our minds. On the other hand we may not. We pay for more attention to those close to us than anonymous people far away. And clinical studies by their nature are about anonymous people we have had no contact with.

This is especially an issue for communication. The findings of the research could be communicated well – having individuals tell their story for instance, instead of in dry statistics.

However it is also a problem that this kind of research finds it hard to take account of all the complications of human experience.

Which leads to the fifth difficulty.

What research findings actually mean. “Cause” doesn’t mean quite the same in research as in normal speech. Perhaps the most popular example is: smoking causes cancer. This is a very solid research finding. However it doesn’t mean that if you smoke a cigarette you will get so much cancer and if you smoke lots of cigarettes you will get lots of cancer. What it means is that if you smoke a bit you are more like to get some health problems (lung cancer being only one) and if you smoke lots you are much more likely to get one of these health problems. It does NOT mean that you will – it just means that it is very likely. And we probably all know people who have defied the odds. (And we often forget all those who haven’t.) In our normal conversation when we say ‘cause’ we mean something pretty direct: the hammer hitting my thumb caused pain. In research – and so in Evidence Based Medicine – it’s a bit more complicated.

The final difficulty I want to point out is that Evidence Based Medicine is conservative.

The validity of the medicine is based on what has already been proven. If we were to go by only what has been proven we wouldn’t do any research at all. Any new ideas can’t be backed by research.

Evidence Based Research is advocated by well entrenched interests and operates to preclude those with new ideas. The conservative can always say to the innovators that there ideas are not proven: this is in the nature of the case. And why should people ‘waste’ time and money (which are always in short supply) trying something unproven? It seems an unanswerable argument. But the answer is that this is exactly what is required if we are to make any progress at all in any kind of research.

I am not trying to say that Evidence Based Medicine is of no value. It is of very great value. However it does have shortcomings – especially when dealing with anything beyond the mainstream. I hope with this in mind we can have a realistic appreciation of Evidence Based Medicine’s very great strengths.


Friday, September 21st, 2007

Apologies for no posts lately.  I’ve been down with a particularly nasty cold.  I’m either on the mend or getting a cough at the moment.

Hopefully I won’t get the cough and be back on deck next week.