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ASTHMA

DISEASE OF THE MONTH

APRIL 1999

SPORTS INJURIES.

There was a time not too long ago when Sports Medicine, as it is now come to be called, was unheard of; now, it appears there is a sports medicine clinic on every block. Of course, the burgeoning interest in sports injuries is not because all of a sudden more and more people are getting injured - this has been an increasing trend for several decades now. In '90-'91, I even wrote to several major league baseball teams to enquire whether they would be interested in approaching the problem of baseball injuries from a macrobiotic perspective. Only one of the franchises responded, a thank you note from Fred Claire, then General Manager of the Dodgers.

To give some perspective on the problem, in baseball prior to 1960, statistically, of all the games played between 1900 and 1960, 85% of the games were completed by the starting pitcher! Since 1960, to date, a mere 15% of the games started by the starting pitcher were completed by the starting pitcher.

In 1916, in the National League, the pitcher who lead the league in completed games was:

Grover Alexander with 38: he started 48 games and threw 389 innings!

The leader in saved games had 7.

In The American League the same year, Walter Johnson lead the league with 36 complete games out of 48 started and pitched 371 innings!

The leader in saved games had 9.

65 years later, in 1981, the comparable numbers, in the American League:

Complete Games - R. Langford - 18.

Games Pitched - D Corbett - 54 - this pitcher was a relief pitcher and would come in to pitch maybe 1-2 innings in a game.

Most Innings pitched - D. Leonard- 202.

The leader in saved games had 28.

In the National League:

Complete Games - F. Valenzuela - 11!

Games pitched - G.Lucas - 57 (also a relief pitcher).

Most innings pitched - F. Valenzuela - 192 (less than half of the number of innings pitched by the National League leader in 1916!)

The leader in saved games had 25.

Of course, nowadays, 25 saved games for your premier relief pitcher is merely average - the leaders regularly get 35-45 each year.

In a game played sometime in the 1910's which took 18 innings to complete, both starting pitchers finished the game (if I remember correctly the two pitchers in this game were Christy "Big Six" Mathewson and Walter "Big Train" Johnson) - this would literally be mentally and physically impossible for today's players, they are simply too weak, mentally and physically.

Up until 1980's the yardstick for the amount of innings pitched for a starting pitcher was 300+innings; nowadays the manager is happy if he can get 200+ innings out of his starting pitchers each season.

Now, the rationalization for this dramatic turn around in number of innings pitched, number of complete games and number of saves between the decade of the teens and the eighties is the game has changed dramatically since early in the century, especially in regard to pitching strategy. Since the late seventies - beginning of the eighties, this change of strategy, which is essentially to get 5-6-7 innings out of your starting pitcher, bring in a set-up (or relief) pitcher (or two or three) to keep the lead for one or two or three innings and then turn the pitching over to the closer to get the final three outs and go home with a win, was managed to perfection by Tony La Russa, the manager of the Oakland Athletics from 1987 -1995 when he managed the team to several division titles, three pennants and a World Series win in 1989. Since then it has become matter of fact that this is the way you assemble and manage a pitching staff and nowadays the most important, and most of the time the most highly paid, and the key to a team's entire pitching staff is not the starting rotation, it is the closer, who will not pitch more than 60-70 innings in an entire season of 162 games!

Now, I do not for one minute believe that this change in strategy was something thought up by managers and coaching staff over coffee and cigarettes on some late night on the road after a particularly tough loss. I believe that it is a strategy that has gradually evolved out of necessity due to the weakening of the physical stamina, and the gradual increase in injuries, and more players being prone to injury on a regular basis, over the course of the last twenty to thirty years. Of course, what I am describing is not limited to baseball - the same gradual increase in the number and rate of injuries is occurring in all sports activities - be it baseball, football, soccer, golf, swimming, hockey or basketball.

To further illustrate the point I am making, I was listening to a sports talk radio program which had as the guest a man by the name of Bill Rigney, who has been involved in baseball as a player, manager and consultant since the early '40's. A lady called in and ask him if it was her imagination but is it true that baseball players seem to be getting injured more often than before, and if this was the case, did he know why? He replied that indeed players were getting injuries more frequently than ever before, and no, no-one knows why.

As an example of how fragile modern athletes are, this season (1999), in baseball spring training, one player - Moises Alou - tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee just using a stairmaster and will be out the entire year!

To take a look at another individual example, the case of Tiger Woods is very interesting to me, and instructive. I remember when he declared as a professional after completing his stint at Stanford University and his face was all over the place when he won the Masters on his first attempt, the youngest player ever to win the tournament and everyone was predicting he was going to do this and that. I had my doubts as soon as I saw him.

One of the most elegant and beautiful aspects of macrobiotic learning and application is Facial Diagnosis. This can be learned by anyone and can be applied to anyone in any situation.

I watched Tiger Woods playing in that tournament and I did facial diagnosis on him. Before I reveal what I saw, it was clear to me that his prodigious swing was due to the flexibility and suppleness in his back. However, when I did facial diagnosis on him I knew that this suppleness and flexibility of his back and spine was going to be gradually eroded - that he would get stiffer in the back muscles, he would start getting lower back pain and the whippiness in his swing was going to gradually fade. The reason being that he has, like most of the population (99.999%), and therefore most athletes also, chronic intestinal stagnation (the main subject, and the reason I wrote it, of my book "The End Of Medicine"). And, as a matter of course, Tiger Woods has not won another of the big four tournaments (Masters, PGA Championship, British Open and US Open) since his prodigious first win, when everybody was predicting that by the time his career was over he would hold the record for the number of major tournaments won by a player. This could happen, as Tiger Woods is still young, but he will need to go on a macrobiotic dietary program, do his ginger compresses on his abdomen and read my book for that to happen.

So, what is the main feature of our face which reveals the condition of our intestines? The lower lips. If our intestines are functioning harmoniously then the vertical dimension of our upper and lower lips is even. If our lower lip is larger, more swollen, than the upper lip, then this means we have swollen, stagnated lower intestines.

Of course, the general perception is that modern athletes are bigger, stronger and faster than their counterparts of earlier years. However, this is not entirely accurate. They are bigger and taller, they have bigger muscles, and they are faster - after all, these days athletes command high salaries and unlike their counterparts of the past, who needed to get regular jobs during the off-season to make ends meet, modern athletes have their own personal trainers and have gyms, batting cages, etc. installed in their homes and work out the entire off-season. Plus, they use all kinds of performance enhancement drugs and supplements, most of them illegal and all of them detrimental to their overall condition. So, it is no wonder they have bigger muscles! However, bigger muscles doesn't mean they are stronger and unless the modern athlete changes his or her nutritional habits to one based on macrobiotic dietary principles and practices then the long term consequences are more and more injuries happening more frequently and at younger ages to more players.

Currently, as I write this in the middle of April, barely two weeks into the regular season, every one of the 30 major league baseball teams has at least one injured player off their 40 man-roster (noting that the team roster of active players allowed at any one time during the season, up until September, is 25). There are a total of 104 players injured on the Disabled List, and 60 of these players are pitchers. I will take a look at the Disabled List of each team in another two months to see what changes have occurred in the interim.

[Update -5/28/99 - 122 players on the disabled list]

[Update -8/16/99 - 148 players on the disabled list]

[Update -8/01/00 - 166 players on the disabled list]

[Update -3/30/01 - 78 players on the disabled list] - This is on Opening Day, 2001.

If you want to check them for yourself, go to the relevant team pages on the site of Major League Baseball And remember, these players are young men, in their early twenties and thirties.

So, let's take a macrobiotic look at what these injuries signify. The main areas of the body where sports injuries occur are the ankles, knees, groin, wrists, elbows, back and shoulders as well as muscles, ligaments and tendons. From a macrobiotic perspective, all the joints, tissues and bones are connected to the organs. These connections are as follows:

Joints-

Ankles and wrists and middle back - Kidneys/Bladder.

Knees and upper back - Liver and/or Lungs.

Groin and lower back, elbows - Large Intestines.

Shoulders - Lungs and Large Intestines.

Neck - Liver/Gall Bladder.

Tissues-

Muscles - Liver.

Ligaments and tendons - Stomach.

Bones - Kidneys.

The development of injuries in any of these areas means that the organs connected to the particular area of injury is a weakened organ - it is stagnated and intoxicated. The weakening of the organ, which is obviously, from a macrobiotic perspective, the result of the daily dietary and liquid intake over the years means that the associated joint or tissue becomes weakened and as a result becomes more likely to get injured as a result of the physical contact and running, jumping, throwing etc. which occurs in any sport.

To find out more about the organs and tissues and how to strengthen them, go to the Healing With The Seasons Pages.

One subject which needs to be embellished upon is the problem of liquid intake. If you were to say which food or liquid is the most significant with regard to being a major factor in the development of sports injuries, it is the common practice of drinking voluminous quantities of 'sports drinks'. In fact, I refer to sports injuries as "*** disease" where *** is the name of your favorite sports drink.

These beverages are nothing but sugared water with a bunch of chemicals added. In terms of yin and yang they are extremely yin. As such, they attract strong yang. In the body, the more yang substances the extreme yin quality of these drinks attracts are minerals. And where do these minerals come from? The bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. As a result, over time, these tissues become weaker, more fragile and more brittle, thus easily tearing, easily bruising and more easily breaking.

It is a complete fallacy that the more we sweat, the more liquids we need to imbibe in order to replace the lost fluids. The opposite is the case - the more liquids we drink, the more we sweat!


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ASTHMA

FEBRUARY 1999

Asthma, a chronic medical condition, affects approximately 10 million Americans (3 to 4 percent of the population). Asthma results when triggers (or irritants) cause swelling of the tissues in the air passage of the lung, making it difficult to breathe. Typical symptoms of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing.

The above is some information I took off the web and is the conventional medical scientific explanation.

From a macrobiotic perspective the swelling of the mucus membranes of the lungs is a long term result of eating and drinking excessively yin foods and beverages. The main fooods implicated are any form of dairy food, any food or drink containing simple sugars like fruit, fruit juices, sweets/candy, refined flour products, and those foods containing chemicals like dyes, preservatives, etc. Also, too much liquid intake is a major factor.

An interesting observation here. A good friend and colleague, David Jackson, related at one Pacific Macrobiotic Conference (have you checked out the PMC Archives yet?) how he had observed since he started teaching and counseling in Arizona that many people relocate there because their asthma will tend to improve in the dry, desert climate. However, even though initially their asthma improves, because no-one has told them that excess liquid intake feeds the condition, within a couple of years their asthma is back worse than ever! In many cases, people get relief from their asthma when they start on their macrobiotic way of eating simply due to the less amount of liquid that is consumed.

The asthmatic attack is actually a response of the lungs to their overly yin condition in which the bronchiole muscles contract very sharply and it is this contraction that precipitates the asthmatic attack which is characterized by shortness of breath, wheezing, tightness in the chest etc. In other words, the asthmatic attack is the lungs attempt to balance its overly yin condition, with a sudden, sharp contraction (more yang).

So, although the actual asthmatic episode is a yang response, the underlying condition that gives rise to it is more yin. We also have to take into account the fact that the medications used to deal with the asthmatic attack are extremely yin, therefore the taking of them makes our condition more yin, basically feeding the condition.

In order to heal ourselves of this condition we change our way of eating to a macrobiotic way of eating, do the ginger compress regimen on the abdomen and the kidneys and start weaning ourselves off the medication. Since these medications are so powerful, I usually recommend that people keep taking their medication as needed for the first four months of eating macrobiotically before beginning to gradually wean themselves off them over a period of four to six months.


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Kaare Bursell

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