A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Chinese medicine always prefers MEAT to RICE. What the heck was I talking about?
RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation – has been a mainstay of treatment of pain from athletic injuries since the late 1970s. RICE treats pain by reducing inflammation. It treats inflammation through restricting, compressing and cooling the tissue locally to restrict circulation and numb nerve endings.
What scientists have finally learned is: “Inflammation is important because it’s the first stage of healing,” Dr. Gabe Mirkin says. “The penalty isn’t permanent — it’s not that you’re not going to heal if you use RICE, but the data is now showing you can delay healing by half a day.” But icing can block the cascade of hormones that trigger healing through the inflammation process. Chinese medicine has been saying this for over two thousand years, but better late than never. The same scientists have also realized that guzzling nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, will also slow this process as well as hard the digestive system.
Enter MEAT (Movement, Exercise, Analgesics and Treatment). Chinese medicine takes a slightly different approach to MEAT by using herbal analgesics and acupuncture and internal herbs as treatment. MEAT allows for inflammation to take its course and let the body repair itself in due course. Research shows that that happens even faster than healing while using RICE.
MEAT can be applied to recovery after exercise too. Follow your big workout days with something gentle like Taiji (Tai Chi) or restorative yoga. Drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated and also help remove cellular waste. Eat more vegetables and fruit to make sure you’re maximizing vitamins and minerals as well as flavanoids, which help fight inflammation. Acupuncture is also a great compliment to recovery from intense exercise because it improves circulation and relaxes muscles.
After an injury or even surgery, definitely get treatment from a provider of Chinese medicine. Our topical herbals treatments can cool inflammation, stop pain, reduce swelling and promote healing. If the injury is serious, taking herbs internally is also helpful. Acupuncture alone will still be greatly useful for all the same reasons topical herbs are. Using electrical stimulation microcurrent can help knit broken bones.
Even if you can’t make it to an acupuncturist if you’re injured, give MEAT a try.