The Importance of Normal Blood Velocity and 3 Ways to Help Maintain it – Part I
In this article:
- The crucial importance of maintaining normal blood velocity
- Vital Chi Skin-Brushing for supporting normal blood velocity
- Alternate Warm/Cool Shower Technique
- Formulation of the SPE Brain Circulation Essential Oil Blend
- Alzheimer’s Disease and the Retina
- Clary Sage Oil
- Parsley Seed Oil
- Peppermint Oil
The bloodstream is the river of life. Andrew Stihl, M.D., the founder of osteopathy famously declared regarding health: “The rule of the artery is supreme.” In other words, good health is dependent upon the free-flow of blood through the arteries. When arterial flow is impeded, a decline in health is inevitable.
Vibrant health is dependent not only upon the purity of the blood, but also, the maintenance of its ideal velocity. If the movement of the blood through the blood vessels slows, its solid elements begin to settle out of solution. Consequently, red blood cells can clump together and general circulatory congestion results.
Blood flows at different velocities throughout the body depending upon the size of the blood vessels, blood viscosity, etc. The more the velocity of the blood slows down on an ongoing basis, the greater the decline in health.
Blood flows at approximately three feet per second as it leaves the heart, but that flow slows as it traverses smaller arteries and veins. Overall, in a healthy individual, it takes a drop of blood approximately sixty seconds to travel from the heart, down through the legs, all the way to the toes, and then back to the heart. If this rate of flow decreases, a person becomes subject to all manner of disease and moves down the pathway toward death – complete cessation of flow.
One of the outcomes of the slowing of the blood is the increase in sedimentation within the blood vessels. Approximately 83% of the blood is water. The rest is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, proteins, fats, glucose, etc. When the blood is running at its ideal velocity, than all these solid elements within the blood remain in suspension. On the other hand, when the blood-flow slows down, these solid elements begin to settle out and obstructive deposits accrue within the blood vessels.
When a medical doctor orders a blood test, one of the things the lab assesses is sedimentation rate. Sedimentation rate is a measure of how quickly erythrocytes (i.e., red blood cells) settle out of solution in a test tube over the course of an hour. The more red blood cells that fall to the bottom of the test tube within this period of time, the higher the sedimentation rate.
When levels of inflammation in the body are abnormally high, certain blood proteins cause red blood cells to stick together and fall more quickly than normal to the bottom of the test tube. These proteins are produced by the liver and various components of the immune system when disease conditions, such as infection, autoimmune disease, or cancer, are extant.
Therefore, an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), may serve as a marker of abnormal inflammatory activity. The reason red blood cells always settle-out in a test tube is because of the absence of blood movement. Similarly, when the blood circulation slows down, there is an increased tendency toward sedimentation.
The condition called atherosclerosis describes a process wherein the arterial walls thicken and harden, due to a gradual build-up of white blood cells, lipids, oxidized LDL cholesterol and calcium. The prefix athero derives from a Greek word meaning gruel. Sclerosis means hardening of tissue.
This process of plaque formation restricts blood-flow, initiates abnormal clotting, and contributes to the occurrence of a heart attack or stroke. Disturbed flow causes the endothelial cells that line the arteries to become inflamed. This inflammation, initiated by inhibited blood flow in a stretch of artery, causes white blood cells to accumulate there, followed by buildup of oxidized LDL cholesterol and lipids, resulting in plaque formation.
Similar to traffic-flow on a highway, atherosclerosis occurs more commonly in branched or curved arterial regions, because of the inhibition of blood-flow incurred by these branches and curves. While a regular, continuous pattern of blood-flow promotes healthy blood vessels, a slowed, or erratic, flow leads to disease. One of the ways that aerobic exercise provides protection against atherosclerosis, is by encouraging improved blood-flow.
Below are some simple measures that may help sustain optimal blood circulation velocity.
Dr. Berkowsky’s Vital Chi Skin-Brushing SystemTM
The skin is highly vascularized. Although there are only 17 sq. feet of skin surface; when its capillaries are fully dilated they present over 11,000 sq. feet of surface area (6 times the capillary surface area of the lungs).
This vast blood vessel network is required for:
1) the nutrition and oxygenation of skin tissue
2) the regulation of body heat (the blood is cooled when it moves through the surface capillaries)
3) for the distillation of waste matter from the blood, and for the exchange of gases between blood andatmosphere.
Subcutaneous vein plexuses, and, in some areas, directly communicating artery/vein junctions known as arteriovenous anastamosescan hold large quantities of blood which function under the control of the sympathetic nervous system(SNS):the portion of the autonomic nervous system that accelerates functional activity, especially during times of stress. When the walls of the arteriovenous anastomoses constrict in reaction to nerve impulses, the flow of blood into the vein plexuses can be reduced to almost nothing; or, when maximally dilated, blood-flow into these plexuses is extremely rapid.
Clearly, the activity of the skin’s blood vessels powerfully influences over-all circulatory function. Vasodilation of skin vessels can relieve internal congestion, and vasoconstriction can initiate the pumping of a large volume of blood back into general circulation when needed.
The heart, the central organ of the body’s rhythmic system (the maintenance of rhythmicity of all physiological functions is essential for vibrant health; disease is always characterized by a loss of essential rhythmicity), is commonly portrayed as a pump that initiates blood circulation. However, it is the movement of the blood that sets the heart in motion rather than vice versa. In lab experiments where a heart has been stopped for days, it begins beating again after the reintroduction of flowing blood. Blood circulation actually begins with a primary flowing in the tiniest peripheral blood vessels within the skin. The heart is essentially a sense-organ that perceives this stream of blood and reacts to it.
The skin contains a vast capillary network, referred to by traditional naturopaths as the “skin heart,” which is as crucial as the actual heart for normal circulation. The vast storage capacity of the skin’s blood vessels enable them to act as reservoirs that release, or store, blood as needed. The activity of the skin’s blood vessels powerfully influences the rhythmicity of circulatory function. It is the “skin heart” that is the engine of primary flowing.
Regular use of my Vital Chi Skin-Brushing System exerts a powerful toning action upon the “skin-heart” and primary flowing.
Alternate Hot and Cold Shower
The systemic benefits derived from hydrotherapy derive, in large part, from the strategic manipulation of these skin circulatory mechanisms. For instance, warm applications to the skin cause the surface vessels to dilate and fill with blood, thus, relieving the internal circulatory congestion that characterizes fever and inflammation.
On the other hand, a tonic cold hydrotherapy initially induces constriction of the surface vessels and drives the blood inward (i.e., intrinsic phase). The body then reacts to the impression of cold upon the sensory nerves, and the increased internal pressure exerted by the extra volume of blood upon the internal pressure receptor nerves by propelling the blood back to the surface with unusual vigor. Thus, the reaction phase following a successful cold hydrotherapy is characterized by a rosy flush and a sensation of warmth and well-being.
The initial effect of cold water is to cause blood vessels to constrict, resulting in a slow-down of blood-flow, thus, a depression of the vital processes. However, soon after the application of cold, the body reacts by strongly dilating the blood vessels, which powerfully increases blood-flow to, and stimulation of, bodily tissues.
It has been my experience that the integration of my Vital Chi Skin-Brushing System with strategic hydrotherapies and essential oil selections creates powerful healing synergy for both body and soul. The Alternate Warm and Cool Shower forms a particularly powerful synergy with Vital Chi Skin-Brushing.
While this shower therapy has been used to treat specific health conditions, it has also served well as a general health-maintenance procedure. Of all the various hydrotherapies, this “unequal periods” Alternate Warm/Cool Shower (with the emphasis on the former) is one I suggest most commonly as an overall tonic treatment. It’s an invigorating procedure which vitalizes circulatory, endocrine, immune, lymphatic, nerve and skin functions.
Warm and cool water can be used in alternation to prolong the initial tonic-stimulant effect of warm water. In general, two to three alternations between warm and cool water are used. The first contrast cycle is always the most intense. The following ones are less so since the body’s ability to react progressively declines. Excess (more than three) warm and cool alternations is depleting which defeats the treatment’s purpose.
Remember, that the greater the temperature differences between warm and cool applications, the greater the effect. For maximum benefit, the contrast between the two temperature extremes should be to the limits of comfortable tolerance. Always finish a contrast treatment with cool to ensure that the desired warming reaction takes place.
Note: “Warm” and “cool” are relative terms, meaning that each person must use good sense in deciding a comfortable tolerance level regarding temperatures. One should not be heroic and overtax the system. Be conscious of your relative state of vitality on a given day and adjust the temperature of the water and duration of each shower phase accordingly.
Complete Instructions for the Alternate Warm/Cool Shower (coming soon) (Available to the NHSS/SPE Members Only)
SPE Brain Circulation Essential Oils Blend
In Spiritual PhytoEssencing (SPE) practice, a sequence of rubrics from the SPE Repertory of Essential Oils, such as the ones below, are copied and pasted in vertical order (referred to in SPE as a “rubric chain”), and then compared to identify essential oils that occur in all the rubrics. These redundant oils are then subjected to a chapter review in Berkowsky’s Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils to determine which are relevant in a given case.
For example, the Circulation rubric can be examined in relation to the Brain rubric, Atherosclerosis rubric, Capillaries rubric and Memory, weakness rubric to identify oils that, in combination may constitute a potentially useful blend for enhancement of cerebral blood circulation.
Note: Bold highlighting (beginning within the Brain rubric) in the rubrics in the vertical sequence below indicates redundancy of an oil in a rubric with the one immediately above it.
ammi visnaga; balsam fir; balsam poplar; bitter orange; black pepper; cacao; camphor; caraway; cayenne; cedarwood; celery seed; champaca; cinnamon; cistus; citronella; clove; cinnamon; citronella; coffee; cumin; cypress; davana; Douglas-fir; elemi; fenugreek; gandhi root; geranium; ginger; gingergrass; goldenrod; greenheart wood; guaiac wood; helichrysum; hyssop; jasmine; juniper; lavender; lemon; lemongrass; lime; lovage; marjoram; mastic; melissa; myrrh; nagarmotha; olive leaf; palo santo; palmarosa; parsley; peppermint; pine; prickly ash; rhododendron; rose; rosemary; sage; sandalwood; savory; spearmint; spikenard; St. John’s wort; tangerine; tea tree; thyme; tuberose; turmeric; tuberose; vetivert; yarrow
ammi visnaga; anise; balsam fir; bitter orange; black spruce; blue chamomile; blue cypress; cajuput; calendula; carrot seed; cilantro; cistus; clary sage; clove; coffee; cumin; cypress; davana; dill; elemi; eucalyptus; fennel; frankincense; geranium; goldenrod; grapefruit; guaiac wood; hyssop; jasmine; juniper; laurel; lavender; ledum; lemon; lemongrass; lemon verbena; lime; litsea; mastic; melissa; myrrh; myrtle; neroli; nutmeg; olive leaf; parsley; peppermint; rhododendron; rosemary; sage; sandalwood; silver fir; tamarack; tarragon; spikenard; tamarack; tea tree; tuberose; valerian; violet; white spruce
The search to identify relevant oils can be further refined by then adding in additional rubrics such as: Capillaries or Atherosclerosis.
Ammi visnaga; balsam poplar; bergamot; bitter orange peel; black pepper; cayenne; cinnamon; cistus; coriander; cumin; cypress; davana; eucalyptus; frankincense; ginger; grapefruit; guaiac wood; hemp; juniper; laurel; lavender; lemon; lime; marjoram; myrrh; neroli; olive leaf; onion; pine; rosemary; sage; seaweed; spikenard; thyme; turmeric; wintergreen; yarrow
black pepper; blue chamomile; calendula; cayenne; cistus; cypress; geranium; helichrysum; juniper; lavender; lemon; myrrh; parsley; Roman chamomile; rose; rosemary; sage; sandalwood; spikenard; St. John’s wort; vetivert; violet; white spruce; yarrow
The two smaller rubrics (containing fewer oils) above are compared individually to the Brain rubric (a repertorizing technique called “branching” in SPE). The resulting redundant oils from these two rubrics are ultimately combined and considered in this repertorizing process as one rubric.
The oils highlighted in blue are the redundant oils found in both of these two smaller rubrics. The oils highlighted in blue are accorded greater consideration during the finalization of the oil selection process.
The branched repertorizing chain is merged back into one chain with the final rubric below.
angelica; anise; balsam fir; basil; benzoin; bergamot; bitter orange peel; black pepper; black spruce; blue chamomile; cajuput; calendula; camphor; caraway; carrot seed; cassie; cayenne; cedarwood; celery seed; cilantro; cinnamon; cistus; citronella; clary sage; clove; coffee; coriander; cypress; dill; echinacea; eucalyptus; fennel; fenugreek; frankincense; galbanum; garlic; geranium; ginger; goldenrod; guaiac wood; helichrysum; hemp; hyssop; jasmine; juniper; laurel; lavender; ledum; leleshwa; lemon; lemongrass; lime; litsea; lovage; mastic; melissa; myrrh; myrtle; neroli; niaouli; nutmeg; oakmoss; olive leaf; oregano; orris root; palmarosa; patchouli; pemou; peppermint; Peru balsam; petitgrain bigarade; pine; plai; prickly ash; ravensara; Roman chamomile; rose; rosemary; rosewood; sage; sandalwood; saro; seaweed; silver fir; spikenard; St. John’s wort; tagetes; tamarack; tarragon; thuja; thyme; tobacco leaf; valerian; vetivert; violet; white spruce; wormwood; yarrow; ylang ylang;
The oils that make it all the way through the repertorizing filtration process constitute the “Possibles List.”
Possibles List: cistus; cypress; geranium; juniper; lemon; lime; myrrh; olive leaf; rosemary; sage; sandalwood; spikenard
*Once the Possibles List of essential oils has been identified, each oil is then either selected or not after relevant chapter review in Berkowsky’s Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils. The oils that are selected for inclusion to the blend constitute the Standouts List.
Standouts List for SPE Brain Circulation blend: cistus; cypress; geranium; juniper; lemon; myrrh; rosemary; sage; spikenard
In SPE, lavender oil is included in all blends as it is the only oil that can harmonize all the diverse plant soul energies of the component oils.
Thus, the following oils constitute the main body of the SPE Brain Circulation Blend: cypress; geranium; juniper; lemon; myrrh; rosemary; sage; spikenard + lavender
Additionally, cistus and sandalwood (oils that made it all the way to the Possibles List) were chosen to serve as catalyzing alchemy oils in the blend.
After the repertorizing/chapter review method determined most of the oils in the blend, I selected three other oils using, what in SPE is referred to as, the Direct Selection method.
While highly efficient in identifying relevant oils, the repertorizing/chapter review method, can miss certain oils that are worthy of inclusion in the blend, simply because the rubrics selected were not conducive to their full representation in the process.
Using the Direction Selection method, oils are chosen solely by chapter review, without repertorization. This requires a deep knowledge of the inner nature of the oils as there are approximately 125 oils in the SPE palette, and reviewing 125 chapters to find an oil would be a laborious process. Instead, the experienced SPE blender already has a familiarity with the inner nature of the oils which leads them to examine specific oil chapters.
In this case, the three oils that I selected using the Direct Method are: clary sage, parsley seed and peppermint.
The debate over the origin of clary sage’s Latin species name provides an important clue as to a key soul- nature characteristic of the oil. Some writers insist that the name sclarea comes from the Greek word skeria meaning “hardness” (for its flowers end in a hard point). Others suggest it derives from the Latin word clarus meaning “clear” (for the herb was once used to clear the eyes).
In aromatherapy, clary sage is considered useful for a wide variety of symptoms and disorders, including: nervousness; nervous exhaustion; depression; fatigue; inflammation epilepsy; headaches including migraine.
I chose the oil for this blend primarily because of its relationship to vision. In the Middle Ages, clary sage was referred to as “Oculus Christi” or “Eye of Christ” and “Clear Eye.” In earlier times, clary sage was used to treat a wide range of disorders, including: headache; visual problems; eye irritation or inflammation.
The brain plays a critical role in processing visual information gathered by the eyes and forming it into a coherent picture. This relationship between the brain and eye tissue is an area of intense study by ophthalmologists and neurologists.
Brain pathologies can also affect the eyes, because both the retina and optic nerve are actually brain tissue that extends outside the brain case. It has been found that Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, a product of damaged brain cells and cerebral function, also impacts the retina.
Aside from the common symptoms such as memory loss, difficulty thinking, disorientation, and other kinds of cognitive decline found in Alzheimer’s sufferers, symptoms can also include vision problems, especially difficulty regarding spatial relationships and depth perception. Some individuals exhibit difficulty reading, following moving objects, or problems with contrast.
It has been found that a picture of the retina may be useful in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease before an individual presents with any overt, characteristic symptoms. Retinal scans can detect key changes in blood vessels that may provide an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease,
In a May 2021 study, published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, it was shown that Alzheimer’s-associated capillary changes can be detected in humans through a simple eye scan. As the retina is a light-penetrating tissue that is biologically related to brain tissue, retinal scans evidencing retinal changes may suggest similar capillary changes occurring within the brain, even before there are overt signs of dementia.
As Alzheimer’s begins, it changes the way that light is reflected off of the retina. In a 2016 study of mice, published in the journal Retina, entitled Early Detection of Amyloidopathy in Alzheimer’s Mice by Hyperspectral Endoscopy, it was concluded that light-reflection changes in the retina caused by Alzheimer’s disease progression could serve as an early Alzheimer’s retinal diagnostic test in humans.
There may be reciprocity in the Alzheimer’s disease progression between the brain and retina. In other words, it may be that once pathological circulatory changes in the brain affect retinal blood circulation, retinal dysfunction, in turn, may exacerbate disease progression in the brain. Based on this research and clary sage’s historical use in the treatment of vision problems, as well as its archaic common name – Clear Eye – I added this oil into the blend formula.
In the Middle Ages, parsley was used as a specific for dimness of the eyes. According to Dr. John Christopher, as an herbal medicine, parsley is a specific for the adrenal glands, optic nerves and brain. The fluid extract, or juice, is considered to be a tonic for the blood vessels, particularly the arterioles and capillaries. Parsley aids the excretion of toxins and mucoid matter from the fluid organism.
The herb has commonly been used to treat: anemia; obesity; lymphatic swellings; epilepsy; conjunctivitis; inflammation of the eyelids; kidney congestion; difficult and painful urination; nephritis; cystitis; kidney stones; adrenal insufficiency; urinary gravel; scalding sensation on passage of urine. During World War I, parsley tea was used by the British to treat the kidney complications which accompanied the chronic dysentery that many of the soldiers developed while living in the unsanitary conditions of the trenches.
In aromatherapy, parsley oil is considered to be a specific for the heart chakra and the nerves and potentially useful for ameliorating the following symptoms: sluggish blood circulation; edema; epilepsy; sluggish liver function.
In Chinese medicine, the liver is thought to have a direct physiological relationship with the eyes and is said to “open into the eyes.” Also, in Chinese medicine, the brain is viewed as being the “Sea of Marrow.” As defined in Chinese medicine, marrow is the material foundation for the central nervous system. It is the matter that ‘fills up’ the brain. The Sea of Marrow is indispensable for memory and concentration. Marrow can be subdivided into bone marrow, brain marrow and spinal marrow.
The kidneys store essence (jing), the fundamental substance closely associated with life force, required for reproduction, growth and development. When kidney essence is abundant, brain marrow is nourished and constantly enriched, and the individual has sharp senses of vision and hearing, and strong memory function. On the other hand, when insufficiency of kidney essence is extant, brain marrow is undernourished, and incomplete brain development, cognitive decline, mental fatigue, slow responsiveness and blurred vision may result. Thus, there is a direct physiological relationship between kidney health and brain vitality.
Given parsley’s historical association with treatment of the eyes, brain, liver and kidneys, I included it in the SPE Brain Circulation formula.
Peppermint oil can exert a vasodilating action that enables a greater blood volume to flow through the blood vessels. Menthol, found in high amounts in peppermint oil, enhances concentration. A 2008 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience (Volume 118; Issue 1), found that peppermint essential oil enhanced energy, alertness and memory. These effects may be due in part to increased oxygen flow to the brain.
Peppermint is a general stimulant that quickly diffuses throughout the system, producing warmth and exerting a strengthening effect. A strong cup of peppermint tea can ameliorate fainting, or dizzy spells accompanied by chilliness and pallid complexion.
In aromatherapy, peppermint oil is considered to be potentially useful for the treatment of the following symptoms and conditions: mental fatigue; poor concentration; enervation; racing thoughts; nervous trembling; insomnia; weakness of the nerves and exhaustion caused by protracted illness; anemia; lymphatic congestion and stagnation; headache related to indigestion or liver congestion; congestive headache [caused by sinus congestion]; migraine headache; heart weakness; hypotension; dry coughs; asthma; bronchitis; chronic bronchitis in the aged; colds; flu; pneumonia, tuberculosis.
Given these associations with vasodilation, enhanced oxygenation and direct impact upon alertness, memory and concentration, I incorporated peppermint oil into the SPE Brain Circulation Blend.
SPE Brain Circulation Blend Finalized Formula
Main Components: cypress; geranium; juniper; lemon; myrrh; parsley seed; peppermint; rosemary; sage; spikenard; lavender
Alchemy Oil Components: cistus, clary sage and sandalwood
Blending Blueprint for SPE Brain Circulation Layered Blend
(The complete layer-by-layer blueprint (including the use of the three alchemy oils) for creating this blend is available to the NHSS/SPE Members only).
In Part II of this article, I will discuss:
1) How to Use the SPE Brain Circulation Blend, including the Warm Hand Soak and application to specific acupoints.
2) Chi Kung for enhanced blood circulation
3) The cell salt Kali. mur. to support circulatory free-flow and decongestion