Playing the Long Game : Notes from the Formulator
By Marco Chung-Shu Lam, L.Ac., MSOM
In the ancient traditions of Chinese medicine, much thought and practice has gone into the cultivation of longevity. Longevity is the ultimate long game. This article will support you in moving smoothly and maintaining your health as we do what we love.
Regardless of our athletic pursuit or martial practice, as we age, we become more and more aware that the fluidity of our joints are of paramount importance to continue to perform at high levels. Old injuries, inflammatory diets and garden variety stress will take its toll on our joints if we don’t take preventative action. The bumps, falls and over-use in the first third of our life catch up to us in the second third and we become aware of them. Awareness is the first step in the journey to repair and rejuvenation. If we can use our awareness to be present to what needs attention, we can use three secrets to win the long game of longevity with strength and flexibility. If we don’t, we cripple ourselves with injury and lose our range of motion and power over time.
The first secret is not that much of a secret. It is that the pattern of our movement dictates the form of our body. If we end up sitting too much or working out in relatively limited planes of motion, then we restrict our body to greater degrees over time. Regular movement, expanded range of movements and proper alignment are the foundations of good joint health and mobility. Think about how you can stretch, align and expand in the everyday parts of your life. One out of the box experiment to try is working for a few minutes in a full squat next time you are at home on your laptop. Get off the couch or chair, put the computer on the chair and squat on the floor in front of the computer. A second experiment is when you are driving, move off the back support and use your core to maintain a straight, relaxed spine. Simple movement cues done regularly can go a long way to restoring strength and motion.
The second secret is that food is our medicine. What we eat matters. A simple precept told to me by one of my mentors is “not in a box, not in a can”. Eat fresh food, mostly vegetables. Regardless of your diet, cutting back the inflammatory burden of processed foods will benefit you. Soda, sugar and white flour products reduce your capacity over time when used as significant portions of your caloric intake.
The third secret is that proper supplementation makes a big difference. The stack I’ve formulated for joint longevity is a mixture of turmeric, black pepper, siberian ginseng, american ginseng and a low dose of full spectrum hemp CBD. Research has shown that the polyphenol, curcumin, in turmeric has powerful anti inflammatory benefits for joint health. It targets multiple signaling molecules at the cellular level and has been proven to improve systemic markers of oxidative stress(1). The challenge with curcumin is it has low bioavailability but this is solved by the addition of black pepper. Piperine is the major active component of black pepper and, when combined in a complex with curcumin, has been shown to increase bioavailability by 2000%.(2) Inflammation is only one part of the puzzle however and when combined with the powerful adaptogen duo of siberian and american ginseng, the adaptogens allow our system to adapt to both our daily exertions and maximize the effects of the other herbs. The inclusion of 20mg of CBD activates the endocannabinoid system which supports our entire neural network, homeostasis, immune balance and stress recovery. In short, it is not just the individual components of supplementation but how they are blended with each other to create additive effect. Think a symphony rather than a solo, a team rather than a star player.
(1)Therapeutic roles of curcumin: lessons learned from clinical trials.
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(2) Shoba G., Joy D., Joseph T., Majeed M., Rajendran R., Srinivas P.S. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998;64:353–356. doi: 10.1055/s-2006-957450.