Aging processes, particularly in the brain, vividly highlight environmental and genetic influences on human
health. In Western medicine, essential tremor is one of the most common neurological disorders among adults, progressing with age and suspected to be both hereditary and environmental. Essential tremor is presented by involuntary shaking, which often increases in amplitude as the extremity approaches an object to point to, place, or grasp or when bringing food to the mouth (point-to-point movement).
People with essential tremor have elevated blood concentrations of harmane, a neurotoxic derivative of the beta-carboline compound found in a variety of food products, including sauces, cooked meat, coffee, and tobacco smoke. β-Carboline is a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), a class of compounds once used in the first wave of prescription antidepressants to prevent the breaking-down of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain.
Harmane and β-carboline detoxification occurs naturally through the body’s internal mechanisms, but the processes are often overwhelmed by the stresses of modern lifestyles and the reduced cellular functions that come with aging over many decades. So, it is best to help the body by decreasing the burden of consumed toxins that it must contend with.
Essential tremor prevention includes avoiding harmane-containing foods and supporting our bodies’ detox systems with healthy foods, such as by eating a primarily plant-based diet high in whole grains, sea vegetables, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables. Avoiding foods like processed foods and sugars, charred vegetables, and meats can also be supportive. Reducing stress and practicing meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises help to detoxify while alleviating internal stressors that lead to an overly toxic environment.
A variety of natural strategies exist for treating essential tremor after onset, including acupuncture to reduce symptoms and improve muscle function, as well as Asian bodywork therapy (Tuina), cupping or gua sha (scraping or coining) and herbal therapy.
In Chinese medicine, a tremor is examined by how it manifests in the body from either an internal or an external condition. Internal conditions are related to the mental state of a person and classified as the ‘seven emotions,’ which are joy, anger, anxiety, worrying, sadness, fear, and fright. External conditions are related to the environment and called the ‘six evils,’ which are cold, heat, wind, dryness, dampness, and summer heat.
From the acupuncture perspective, tremor is commonly viewed as wind, or feng. The term wind is widely used by acupuncturists and contains no similar meaning or association in conventional Western medicine. Tremor falls under the wind condition, because in nature the wind can quickly stir up and immediately be seen coming and going without warning, as in involuntary tremors.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into the skin that are left in place for approximately 15 to 25 minutes. Treatment with acupuncture can help treat essential tremor by enhancing blood flow, improving sleep, reducing pain, and relieving anxiety, which is often a trigger.
Food is a key ingredient of healthy and happy lives, and knowing which sources of food to eat and how to prepare them for optimal health can help make your life the best it can be.
If you are looking for ways to improve your diet and overall health to prevent conditions such as essential tremor, schedule a comprehensive health consultation by contacting Vitality online or by calling 615.891.7500, or contact True Acupuncture & Wellness to schedule an acupuncture consultation by calling 615.975.7320.