In this issue you will find:
- Important PCOM Dates
- Massage Can Help With Breast Cancer
- Acupuncture and Herbs Helping With Infertility
- Massage, Acupuncture and Shoulder Pain
Breast cancer currently affects about one in eight women in the United States. In 2009, an estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in women throughout the U.S. In addition, 62,280 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer were diagnosed. The good news is that, as of 2008, about 2.5 million women in the U.S. have survived breast cancer. Women with breast cancer can suffer from depression, anxiety, and stress, which can result in a decreased in Natural killer (NK) cells. A drop in NK cell activity has been linked to increased tumor development.
Massage therapy has been shown to offer a number of benefits for breast cancer patients. The immediate benefits of massage therapy include reduced stress and anxiety. Long-term massage effects include reduced depression and hostility, and increased urinary dopamine, serotonin values, NK cell number, and lymphocytes. Massage can also enhance one's feeling of well-being. It can stimulate the nerve endings in the skin, release endorphins (the feel good hormones), and inhibit the stress hormones, Cortisol and adrenaline.
In a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, the Touch Research Institute found that massage therapy reduced anxiety and depression. It also improved immune function, including increased NK cell number in breast cancer patients. Additionally, breast cancer patients have improved immune functions following massage therapy.
Another study, conducted by Ferrel-Torry & Glick (1003), found that therapeutic massage reduced cancer pain perception by an average of 60 percent, decreased anxiety by 24 percent, and enhanced relaxation by 58 percent. A Touch Research Institute study involving 20 children with leukemia found that daily massages by their parents increased the children's white blood cell and neutrophil counts (neutrophils form a primary defense against bacterial infection).
One 2003 study of 230 cancer patients found that those who received one 45-minute therapeutic massage session per week for a month felt less pain and took about eight fewer doses of pain medication than those in the control group.
During chemotherapy treatment, blood count for platelets and/or white blood cells may drop below normal levels. Also, during radiation treatment, the skin develops minor burns. A qualified massage therapist must be familiar with these treatment side effects before proceeding with massage.
Before attempting massage therapy, first consult a primary care physician. If he or she advises that massage may help, find a licensed massage therapist who is nationally certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (www.ncbtmb.org) or the American Massage Therapy Association (www.amtamassage.org). Note: Medicare and most private insurance do not cover massage.
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive a baby after one year of trying. Women who suffer miscarriages are also said to be infertile. Infertility affects about 7.3 million women and their partners in the United States.
Clinical observations from the Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness suggest that the most effective fertility treatments combine acupuncture, herbal medicine, and traditional medical interventions. It should be noted that conception sometimes occurs when acupuncture and herbal medicines are used without the intervention of traditional medical treatments.
There are currently over 150 different herbs one can use to treat infertility. No individual herb is considered especially useful for promoting fertility. Instead, herbs are usually given in combination and frequently adjusted for a particular patient. Herbs are often given as pills, powders, tablets, and teas. Herbs are usually discontinued once pregnancy is suspected or confirmed.
Additionally, acupuncture addresses problems and issues that affect fertility. It can offer the following benefits:
Improve ovarian and follicular function to yield higher quality eggs
Increase blood flow to the uterus to promote a thick, rich lining
Regulate hormones for increased production of follicles
Prevent uterine contraction after an IVF embryo transfer
Reduce the side effects of IVF medications
Improve sperm count and motility
Another advantage of using traditional Chinese medicine in treating infertility is that it minimizes certain undesired side effects and the accumulated toxicity from invasive procedures and drugs.
Experiments using Chinese medicine to supplement In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) at the University of Texas revealed that Chinese medicine increases the success rate of IVF by as much as 50 percent. Patients are given herbs and acupuncture at several critical stages during the procedure. At the first stage, herbs and acupuncture are administered to ensure smooth flow to the ovaries. This is followed by Chinese herbs and acupuncture to ease the side effects of drugs used to stimulate egg production. Other herbs are used before implantation to relax the muscles, prevent contraction, and improve the embryo to implant on the uterus.
Acupuncture treatments usually average 15 minutes, once or twice a week. While some patients have experienced bleeding or a mild allergies , most people experience no side effects from acupuncture therapy.
Massage, Acupuncture, and Shoulder Pain
Compared to other joints, the muscles that support the shoulder are fairly thin and stretched. This makes them more susceptible to tearing and dislocation, which can cause considerable pain. Shoulder pain is usually caused by repeated mechanical strain and mental stress. It is most often due to periarthritis of the shoulder or injury to soft tissues. This is typically the result of exposure to wind and cold, or damage to channels or tendons that obstruct passage of energy (Qi) and blood. One is said to have "frozen shoulder" when the shoulder is painful and cannot move normally because of inflammation.
Western medicine maintains that frozen shoulder is due to the inflammation of synovial tissue or thickening of synovial fluid. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) addresses shoulder pain through acupuncture and massage, two non-drug therapies that are increasingly used to treat pain. Research studies reveal that patients with frozen shoulder who undergo acupuncture treatments have reduced pain and a low rate of recurrence.
Massage therapy can also relieve shoulder pain. Researchers at Auburn Hospital and Concord Repatriation General Hospital in Sydney, Australia, showed that soft-tissue massage offered enhanced range of motion, reduced pain, and improved function in those suffering from shoulder pain. The American Massage Therapy Association has revealed research showing massage therapy improves blood circulation, relaxes muscles, and increases endorphins.
TCM practitioners also use tui na, which means to "push and grasp" to relieve shoulder pain. Tried and tested for over 4,000 years, tui na focuses deep pressure with diverse movement along the energy channels and into specific Qi points. The healing power of tui na is based on balancing the body's internal energy using a variety of different techniques to access the these energy meridians and acupoints. In this way, tui na speeds the healing process in the more inert connective tissues like tendons and ligaments. Finally, tui na is completely holistic, treats the whole body, and is performed through one's clothing. And unlike drug therapies, it has no negative side effects.
Before attempting any massage or acupuncture therapy, first consult a primary care physician. If he or she advises that these treatments may help, find a licensed massage therapist/acupuncturist who is nationally certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (www.ncbtmb.org) or the American Massage Therapy Association (www.amtamassage.org).
“A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.”