In this issue you will find:
- Important PCOM Dates
- Reducing Food Cravings with Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Flaxseed and Other Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes/Menopausal Symptoms
- Green Practices and Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day
June 1st: (Sunday)
New York CEU, Gary Strauss: Clinical Energetics
June 9th-10th: (Monday and Tuesday)
San Francisco CEU, Giovanni Maciocia: The Pathology and Treatment of Dampness and Phlegm
June 21st: (Saturday)
Chicago Open House for All Programs
Reducing Food Cravings with Traditional Chinese Medicine
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 97.1 million adults are overweight, and 39.8 million of those people also meet the criteria for obesity. Even more disturbing is the fact that approximately 280,000 deaths and 39.3 million missed workdays are attributable to obesity each year. Health conditions that accompany obesity include high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, gallstones and more.
Fortunately, the health community has recognized that weight control and healthy living are important issues that require immediate attention. Unfortunately, the result has been an excess of solutions. The number of diets on record has grown to such staggering proportions that people no longer know which ones are healthy and actually work. While Americans spend $33 billion annually on weight-loss products and services, the prevalence of obesity increased 61 percent between 1991 and 2000, according to a 2001 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Those seeking an alternative to these fads and short-term solutions are turning to lifestyle changes that often include the use of acupuncture.
Acupuncture consists of the gentle insertion and stimulation of thin, disposable sterile needles at strategic points near the surface of the body. Over 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body connect with 14 major pathways, called meridians. Chinese medicine practitioners believe that these meridians conduct qi, or energy, between the surface of the body and internal organs. It is qi that regulates spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance. When the flow of qi is disrupted through poor health habits or other circumstances, pain and/or disease can result.
The 3,000-year-old practice of acupuncture helps to keep the normal flow of this energy unblocked. Acupuncture obesity treatment works to control weight gain on several levels. When attempting to diet, many people experience withdrawal, or cravings, because of a lack of endorphins. (It is this same imbalance of hormone levels that causes women to crave chocolate just prior to beginning menstruation.) The need to eat is often so strong that dieters binge on food. This is one reason why diets often cause people to gain more weight rather than lose it.
Acupuncture counterbalances these cravings by releasing endorphins in the brain, which actually alleviate the withdrawal symptoms many dieters experience and eventually succumb to.
Weight gain can also be caused by stress, which increases cortizol levels in the body. This increase in cortizol, which is often referred to as the “stress hormone,” can alter metabolism, thus causing stressed people to gain weight. As with cravings, the endorphins released by acupuncture also help reduce stress, which can reduce the need to overeat.
According to Marly Wexler, a licensed acupuncturist and faculty member at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, acupuncture can also help weight loss by regulating the body’s metabolism. “The reason I like using acupuncture [for weight loss] is because it really does help the body become more efficient in the digestive process,” Wexler said.
Wexler said that when people try to diet, metabolism becomes less efficient – yet another reason why many diets prove to be ineffective. Irregular food intake also weakens digestion, which often results in weight gain. “People cut back on food or calories, but what that does is make the body store up on fat and diminish ‘digestive fire,’ which translates in Western medicine to metabolism,” Wexler said.
By stimulating the hyopthalamus, acupuncture regulates the body’s thyroid and hormone levels, which in turn regulate metabolism. One patient who wrote about her experiences with acupuncture on acupuncture.com said that she had been suffering from weight fluctuation because of fad diets before she tried acupuncture. “I went to an acupuncturist in l984 in Boston because I was experiencing rapid weight gain and was dieting often to lose it,” she said. “I went up and down from 110 pounds to 160 pounds several times. After two months of acupuncture treatments, I began to stabilize at 127 pounds and have remained at that weight ever since (except when pregnant). This stays stable no matter how much I exercise or what I eat.”
Auricular, or ear, acupuncture is especially popular for the treatment of obesity. The vagus motor nerve, which drives the internal organs, has one sensory branch in the ear, as well as fibers that connect to taste buds and the saliva glands in the jaw. By applying pressure to the sensory branch of the vagus nerve, acupuncture “calms” the stomach and taste systems so that they do not crave food.
Flaxseed and Other Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes and Menopausal Symptoms
by Alex A. Kecskes
Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings are just a few of the symptoms women in their 40’s and 50’s have suffered from menopause. New techniques like hormone replacement therapy have emerged as common remedies. But there are other natural remedies besides HRT (hormone replacement therapy) that can help control these symptoms.
A 2007 Mayo study showed that 21 women who consumed 40 grams of ground flaxseed daily had a significant decrease in the frequency and severity of their hot flashes. High in phytoestrogens (especially lignans), flaxseed can help minimize symptoms like hot flashes and prevent heavy bleeding. It’s also high in omega-3 acids, so it may help ease symptoms like breast tenderness, cramping, and other PMS-type discomforts.
Recent studies have found that soy can also help reduce hot flashes, as well as night sweats, and other menopausal symptoms. Rich in phytoestrogens, especially isoflavones, as well as omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, folic acid, iron, and other vitamins and minerals, soy offers a variety of health benefits for early menopause. Soy can help lower cholesterol -- which tends to rise when you enter premature menopause. It can also help lower triglycerides, which often rise when you take estrogen.
Some studies have shown that taking vitamin E and citrus bioflavonoids in the morning and again before bedtime may reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes. One cautionary note: If you have rheumatic heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or if you take digitalis drugs, vitamin E can be harmful. Always check with your doctor before taking these supplements. Studies have also shown that bioflavonoids may help relieve anxiety, irritability, and other emotional side effects associated with menopause.
To help maintain tissues, skin, mucous membranes, and to reduce vaginal dryness, you might try vitamin A or beta-carotene. B vitamins can boost your energy levels, support your liver function, prevent vaginal dryness, and build up your resistance to infection. B vitamins also help your body cope with stress—ideal for all those emotional symptoms of premature menopause—like mood swings, anxiety, irritability and insomnia. This popular herb may help reduce hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Black Cohosh can also help with cramps, heavy periods, and other menstrual irregularities. Most studies suggest taking black cohosh extract that contains either 20 or 40 mg twice a day. It may take two to four weeks before you notice results.
Widely praised as a natural tranquilizer, St. John’s Wort helps relieve irritability, depression and fatigue. Over 23 different studies have found that it’s effective in fighting depression, especially when hormone levels drop after surgical menopause. Keep in mind; St. John’s Wort can interact with other medications, including birth control pills, so check with your doctor before taking. Valerian is also widely used to treat sleep disturbances, nervousness, menstrual problems, mood swings, and tension.
Green Practices and Traditional Chinese Medicine
By Steve Goodman
The philosophies of balance within the body, and between the physical self and the natural world are basic to the practice of traditional Chinese medicine and most naturopathic physicians. Many people, from political candidates to environmental activists, talk about “Going Green” today. As a patient or advocate of TCM, you will surely agree that taking steps to reduce the “toxicity” of your body and your own personal space is integral to your overall well-being. And by extrapolation, such practices will also help to bring balance and healing to the planet.
In the theory and practice of TCM, there are Five Elements that make up the material world: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. These elements are in constant movement and flux. Obviously then, the tenets of TCM would hold that humankind’s negative influence over these basic elements through pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and unbridled use of natural resources without restraint, disturbs the natural order of things - in essence the world’s “qi,” or energy essence.
Tips for Going Green
As believers and practitioners of TCM, it is our responsibility to help restore the planetary qi. There are dozens of very simple things you can do to “Go Green.” – many of which will improve your health, as well as the health of the planet, and all of which are harmonious with TCM.
Avoid Fast Foods – these not only pollute the body, but almost all fast food is over- packaged and fast-food companies are responsible for producing unbelievably large volumes of trash.
Ride a Bike Whenever Possible – Bike riding is great exercise and reduces global warming.
Recycle and Buy Products Made of Recycled Paper – Remember in TCM one of the 5 elements is Wood and that can include its products – like paper.
Change Incandescent Light Bulbs for Compact Fluorescents – Saves a lot of energy.
Don't Use Aerosols - Aerosol cans cannot be recycled and many of their ingredients contribute to air pollution and are otherwise toxic. Look for chemical-free spray bottles or roll-ons, especially for products that come into contact with your body.
Buy Organic - Organic produce contains far fewer chemicals than other produce. That is better for you and the planet.
Plant a Garden and Put out Bird Feeders – A garden is your own space of tranquility. Bird feeders bring nature into your space and birds naturally control bugs and other pests.
These are just a few of hundreds of things you can do in your everyday life to help restore your own qi and the qi of the earth. Advocates of TCM should protect The Five Elements by always practicing The Three R’s – Refuse, Reuse, and Recycle. If something is over-packaged or heavily laden with toxic chemicals - Refuse it. If it comes in something that you can reuse for something else -Reuse it, and if it can be Recycled - Recycle it.
Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day
Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.