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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - November 2007 | Issue 44






In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates

 

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Secrets of Longevity: Herbs, Remedies and Elixirs

As the quest for the elusive fountain of youth continues, it is good to know that there are some herbs and remedies that are quite remarkable in supporting a long and vigorous life.  Using herbs can help to sustain a long life as well as aid in keeping one healthy. There are some herbs that are beneficial in our search for longevity.

Gynostemma has a reputation as an anti-aging herb that has a long reign as the leading herb on herb charts across Asia. Often called the ‘miracle herb’, gynostemma is adaptogenic. Adaptogenic plants have an almost miraculous quality of being able to balance situations in the body. If the central nervous system is stressed and over stimulated, gynostemma will have a calming effect. If a person is in a depressed state, it will work as a stimulant. It is an anti-inflammatory and immune system booster. It protects the liver, lowers fat in the blood and helps to maintain a healthy metabolism. Bodybuilders are enjoying the benefits of gynostemma, saying that they are able to workout longer with less fatigue.
 
In Rosemary Gladstar’s book, Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbs for Longevity and Well-Being, she lists ginkgo biloba as her number one choice for longevity. Geologists tell us that the ginkgo tree has been growing on our planet for about 150 million years. Brought over to Europe in the 1700’s by Chinese monks, there have been over 300 studies showing that ginkgo prevents many health problems from developing. You may have heard of the amazing memory enhancing and brain-aiding properties of the gingko leaf. It also helps to increase the strength of arterial walls and prevents blood clots. A common complaint of aging is dizziness. By increasing blood flow to the brain, ginkgo is a great remedy for vertigo. People have noticed changes in their vitality and brain function, with consistent use.   

Our body’s ability to defend itself from countless diseases can be a key to enjoying a long life. Colloidal silver was used as a germ fighter long before antibiotics were developed. Although an antibiotic can kill about 6 different harmful organisms, silver can destroy over 600. It can be used topically as a treatment for warts and is remarkable at helping the skin to heal from burns.  Many use it as a tonic or elixir. Colloidal silver stalks a virus and then disables its ability to use oxygen. The pathogen then suffocates and dies, leaving healthy cells untouched.

In areas where longevity is noted, along with high-quality, natural diets, they often have local water supplies that are rich in silver. The famous healing waters of Lourdes, France are also said to have high traces of silver.

Spiritual, mental and physical aspects of life all seem to influence longevity. There is no magic potion that will stop the aging process for everyone.  However, to encourage vitality, brain function and overall well-being, you might want to add these longevity boosters to your health regime.   

 

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Great American Smokeout 2007: Let Acupuncture Help You to Quit

More than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. per year are smoking related. About one out of three young smokers will eventually die from a tobacco related disease. According to current research, an estimated 45 million Americans smoke.  Continual use of tobacco can cause lung cancer, as well as heart disease and lung disease.  Smoking is responsible for one in three cancer deaths. Another 8.6 million people are living with serious illnesses caused by smoking.
 
In an effort to help smokers who want to kick the habit, Pacific College’s San Diego Clinic is offering a $10 acupuncture treatment to new patients and $10 off a treatment for current patients with the mention or presentation of this offer on Thursday, November 15, 2007. 

On that same day, Pacific’s New York Campus is offering a free auricular acupuncture treatment to be used towards quitting smoking.  Please bring in this ad to redeem for treatment.  All future auricular treatments are $10 per visit.

The Chicago clinic of PCOM will be hosting a free community auricular acupuncture clinic from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm on Thursday, November 15. It is free and open to the public with no appointment necessary.

One of the most effective methods of Oriental medicine to help quit smoking is acupuncture. These treatments help to curb cravings and ease the stress of quitting by utilizing auricular (ear) acupuncture, where four to five very small needles are inserted into points corresponding to the lung, kidney and nervous system. It is thought that these needles increase the flow of endorphins, morphine-like hormones that induce a deep state of relaxation. This state is prolonged and leads to a lessening of cravings for nicotine and other drugs.

The Great American Smokeout provides smokers with the opportunity to quit.  Smokers who quit smoking gain almost immediate benefits, regardless of age, or how long you have been a smoker. Within 20 minutes, blood pressure and pulse rates drop to normal. Eight hours after quitting, the oxygen level in the blood increases to normal. One day after quitting, the odds of having a heart attack start to drop. Within 48 hours, nerve endings start re-growing and the ability to smell and taste is enhanced. Within two weeks, lung function will have increased by up to 30 percent. Two weeks to 3 months after quitting, circulation improves and walking becomes easier. One year, the body's energy level increases and the risk of coronary heart disease will be half that of a smoker.

 

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Pomegranate Juice Fights Heart Disease

Courtesy of www.acufinder.com

In China, the pomegranate fruit symbolized longevity. Now there is scientific evidence for the fruit's restorative powers. Scientists have tested the juice in mice and found that it combats hardening of the arteries (atherogenesis) and related diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes. According to results published in the August 2006 issue of Atherosclerosis, subjects who drank 180 ml (6 oz.) of pomegranate juice per day for three months experienced a reduced risk for atherosclerosis, a condition that leads to arterial wall thickening and hardening.

Scientists have long known about health benefits of pomegranates. The latest studies have shown that the juice limits the genetic tendency of the hardening of the arteries.
"We have established that polyphenols [antioxidant chemicals] and other natural compounds contained in the pomegranate juice may retard atherogenesis," said Claudio Napoli, a professor of medicine and clinical pathology at the University of Naples, Italy. He also stated that, "The protective effects of pomegranate juice were higher than previously assumed,” making pomegranate juice appear to have even more value than was previously realized. 

Pomegranate juice is remarkably rich in antioxidants, such as soluble polyphenols, tannins, and anthocyanins, which scavenge free radicals and help prevent DNA damage that can lead to a number of serious health conditions. The antioxidant level in pomegranate juice was found to be higher than that in other natural juices, but high levels of antioxidants are also found in blueberry, cranberry, and orange juices, as well as red wine and black tea.

Studies support that polyphenols from red wine can reduce LDL ("bad" cholesterol). Black tea consumption also reverses endothelial dysfunction (damage to the linings of the arteries) in patients with chronic heart disease.

There have also been some intriguing studies indicating that green tea can be extremely effective in the fight against high cholesterol. Specifically, the beverage reduces “bad” cholesterol and boosts “good” cholesterol, improving an individual’s overall cholesterol profile.

In addition, green tea appears to lower overall cholesterol levels, helping to reduce one’s risk of developing heart disease. Similarly, green tea enhances cardiovascular health by improving the consistency of platelets in the blood. Researchers have also found that green tea appears to protect against oxygen-induced damage to bad cholesterol. Combining the consumption of pomegranate juice, green and black teas, and other natural fruit juices could prove to greatly increase cardiovascular health and wellbeing.

 

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.

~ Confucius

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - October 2007 | Issue 43




In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates

October 3 (Wednesday): 
Chicago All Programs Open House 6-8pm

October 24 (Wednesday):
San Diego Campus North American Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Day 2007 Celebration featuring complimentary and discount treatments

October 24 (Wednesday):
Chicago Campus North American Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Day 2007 Celebration featuring complimentary and discount treatments

October 24 (Wednesday):
New York Campus North American Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Day 2007 Celebration featuring an open house and complimentary acupuncture

 

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North American Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Day 2007

To increase understanding and appreciation of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine will celebrate North American Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day at all three of its campuses, San Diego, New York, and Chicago on October 24, 2007. Each campus will observe the day with various events.

Pacific College’s San Diego and Chicago campuses will be offering complimentary treatments for first time patients as well as $10 off treatment for current patients on Wednesday, October 24, 2007.  This offer needs to be mentioned or coupon surrendered at time of treatment for offer to be valid.

Pacific’s New York Campus will be hosting a free Open House for the public from 3:30 to 5:30 pm with featured activities that teach about acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and Oriental body therapy. On that same day from 5:30 to 8:00 pm, there will be complimentary acupuncture for balance, as well as stress acupuncture and qi gong workshops.

Acupuncture has been used to treat (or relieve the pain of) dozens of ailments. The national institute of health recognizes its usefulness in treating addiction, fibromyalgia, headaches, cramps, back pain, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel, asthma, and more. According to www.acupunctureschool.com’s  careers statistics, employment in the alternative therapy and non-mainstream medicine fields is expected to increase by 48.8% from 2002 to 2012.

For more information on North American Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Day, or on any of these celebrations, please call Pacific College at (800) 729-0941.

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Traditional Chinese Medicine and Psychiatric Disorders

By Kathleen Rushall

While mental health is often considered a separate issue from one’s physical well-being, the two have always been linked in the practice of traditional Chinese medicine. In TCM, emotions and thoughts are considered to have a direct impact on the physical health of a person, and furthermore, mental and physical health are equally valued.  Because of the importance placed on the mind in traditional Chinese medicine, there are many methods available within the profession that are geared toward the renewal, healing, and upkeep of mental wellness.
           
Over 28 million Americans take antidepressant and anti-anxiety agents, and depression is considered among the most common of behavioral disorders. While there are a myriad of prescription drugs and therapists available for disorders such as depression, there are also some interesting Oriental methods available for this affliction. Peace-providing physical exercises such as Tai Ji and Qi Gong have been known to help align the energetic forces of the body and soothe anxiety. Massage therapy is a well-known stress reliever, and consistent breathing and meditation exercises can have long-term effects on high-strung individuals.

Even the approach to diagnosis in TCM differs. In his article Can Chinese Herbs Help Clients with Depression? Andrew Gaeddert discusses the contrast between diagnoses for psychiatric problems in Eastern versus Western medicine.

Gaeddert writes that in Western medicine, when a person sees a doctor with an emotional complaint, the patient is often quickly prescribed an anti-depressant to ‘relieve’ the difficulty instead of being carefully diagnosed to ascertain the root cause. Gaeddert goes on to explain that in Chinese medicine, emotional presentations are treated just like any other disease, since the seven emotions are intimately connected with the health of an individual.
           
Chinese herbal therapy is one manner of healing mental conditions in traditional Chinese medicine. Wei Liu, L.Ac., writes in his advice article, Traditional Chinese Medicine for Depression, that the Chinese herbal formula Mood Smooth (Jia Wei Xiao YaoWan) has been in use for six hundred years in China to deal with depression. The Chinese call this old remedy "the happy pill" because of its well-known anti-depressant effect. Liu expands on Chinese herbal therapy, writing about other common herbal remedies for depression. These include spleen tonic herbal formula, known as Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan, kidney nourishing herbal formula, known as Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan, and many other curatives that are widely used with different patterns of depression, treating the organs that may correspond to the emotion.

Traditional Chinese medicine can offer an entirely new method of healing for patients suffering from mental health issues. Depression is most commonly discussed, but ailments like anxiety, mania, various phobias, stress, and even schizophrenia can be alleviated by traditional Chinese medical methods like acupuncture, herbal treatment, massage, and qi gong exercises. Above all, patients may find it refreshing that the process of diagnosis in TCM is different than in Western medicine. The TCM process is thought to be more personal, taking an increased amount of history and examination into account to design a unique treatment tailored to the patient, one that addresses both symptoms and the pattern of disturbance in the energetic equilibrium of the body.

 

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Boost Immunity the Natural Way

By Michelle Fletcher

For centuries, herbs and spices have been used in food and as medicine. Ranging from mint tea to common ingredients in pharmaceutical drugs, herbs play an important part of our everyday life.

The increased use of medicinal herbs among the general public has encouraged further examination of herbs’ effects upon humans. Recently, much research has focused upon certain herbs that possess hypolipidemic, antiplatelet, antitumor,  or immune-stimulating properties, which may be useful in preventing colds, avoiding infection, and even reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. A wide variety of phytochemicals in these herbs has been identified which contain these immune system-stimulating properties.

Astragalus, Echinacea, Ginseng, licorice, and green tea are among those herbs which play a role in providing antioxidants, stimulating the activity of protective enzymes in the body, or inhibiting nitrosation (a class of chemical compounds considered carcinogenic, or “cancer-causing”). “Many of these herbs contain potent antioxidant compounds that provide significant protection against chronic diseases,” said Winston Craig from the Department of Nutrition at Andrews University. “The volatile essential oils of commonly used culinary herbs, spices, and herbal teas inhibit mevalonate synthesis and thereby suppress cholesterol synthesis and tumor growth.”

The most popular herbal remedy for promoting immunity, Echinacea, was first used by the North American Plains Indians to ward off infections. Echinacea increases the activity of the immune system in a non-specific manner, stimulating the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting all kinds of infection. In contrast to antibiotics, Echinacea make our cells more efficient at attacking viruses, bacteria, and abnormal cells – including cancer cells.

Several clinical studies have supported Echinacea’s medicinal fame. Scientists at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine assessed the ability of Echinacea and two other herbs in activating immune cells in human subjects. “The effect of these herbs when ingested for seven days was measured… The results demonstrate that Echinacea, Astragalus and Glycytthiza herbal tinctures stimulated immune cells.”

Echinacea has long been used to promote mucosal immunity in treating upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) in children and adults. Researchers at Elmhurst College examined the effects of Echinacea on mucosal immunity and the incidence of duration of URTI. This 2007 study yielded positive results: “Echinacea may attenuate the mucosal immune suppression known to occur with intense exercise and reduce the duration of URTI that subjects incur.”

While Echinacea shortens the duration and severity of colds and other upper respiratory infections, other herbs such as Astragalus and Ginseng aid in inhibiting tumor growth and boosting resistance to infections. “[Antioxidant] compounds [in these herbs] may protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, inhibit cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase enzymes [(which cause inflammation and pain in the body)]… or have antiviral or antitumor activity.”

Over 80% of the world’s population depends upon plants for health and healing. While much of the world relies heavily on pharmaceuticals (most notably in the United States and Europe), the root of health and healing may rely upon these ancient remedies.

For more information on herbs and health, visit an acupuncturist, practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) or nutritionist for a thorough consultation of your herbal needs.


Craig, Winston. “Health-promoting properties of common herbs”. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999;70(3): 491-499.

Brush, J., et al. “The effect of Echinacea purpurea, Astragalus membranaceus and Glycytthiza glabra on CD69 expression and immune cell activation in humans. Phytother. Res. 2006 Aug;20(8):687-95.

Hall, H., et al. “Echinacea Purpurea and Mucosal Immunity”. Int J Sports Med. 2007 Apr 13.

 

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still”

~ The Book of Odes

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - August 2007 | Issue 41






In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates

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Pacific Symposium 2007

The 2007 Pacific Symposium, November 8 – 11 at the Catamaran Hotel provides the opportunity for practitioners all over the world to learn from recognized leaders and speakers in the Oriental medicine field. 

This Symposium offers both the Restoration Track and Advanced Acupuncture Technique Workshops that have been popular attractions in the past few years.
The Restoration Track is a hands-on, relaxing series of workshops that provides an in-depth exploration of bodywork and massage; whereas the Advanced Acupuncture Techniques Workshops are offered to provide the opportunity for attendees to learn advanced needling, palpatory diagnosis, pulse analysis, and pain management methods.  This track is invaluable to practitioners due to its diverse techniques taught by the most experienced professionals in the field. 

Highlighting the event is Felice Dunas, as she provides the keynote lecture discussing the opportunities that TCM can have in corporate America.  Dunas has been in practice since 1974, and has been a public speaker and consultant for corporate and hospital CEO’s. She has lectured in over 40 countries and on every continent. Dunas is the author of the best selling book, "PASSION PLAY: Ancient Secrets for a Lifetime of Health and Happiness Through Sensational Sex", which has been published in six languages.

This year marks the 19th annual Symposium held in San Diego, and features some of the most renowned names including Kiiko Matsumoto, Alex Tiberi, Effie Chow, Nigel Dawes, Richard Gold, Bill Helm, and Honora Lee Wolfe.

Providing two dynamic post Symposium workshops this year are Matt Callison and Toyohari Acupuncturists, Haruhiro Kasumi and Michio Murakami.

Matt Callison will share how to assess and treat common lower back and hip injuries using TCM and Western biomedicine assessment and treatment techniques on Monday, November 12 in his special in-depth session “Common Injuries to the Lower Back and Hip.”

On Tuesday, November 13, The Toyohari Acupuncturists will provide an introduction to the Toyohari, a refined system of Japanese meridian therapy. This form of acupuncture uses extremely fine needling techniques, and places great emphasis on the use of pulse diagnosis and palpation skills.  Many practitioners of this style in Japan are blind and have developed extraordinary sensitivity to qi through this practice.  This workshop is designed to explore qi as a living and growing experience, not just an abstract concept. 
This is a rare opportunity to study with Japanese Masters of this style. 

Come join us for the 19th annual Pacific Symposium.  Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from the best in the industry and discover the newest products and services showcased at this event.

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Tai Ji May Help Those Suffering from Parkinson’s Disease

The ancient art of Tai Ji may have a new application – Parkinson’s disease patients. Numerous studies in the past few years have demonstrated Tai Ji’s effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s is a disease that affects nerve cells – called neurons – in the region of the brain controlling muscle movement. Those suffering from Parkinson’s disease may experience difficulty walking, muscle rigidity, trembling, and problems with coordination. The disease is progressive – meaning its symptoms become progressively worse over time.

Originally developed in China over 1,000 years ago, Tai Ji is an internal Chinese martial art practiced to increase health, balance, and longevity. Tai Ji is characterized by the use of leverage through the joints based on coordination and relaxation into the movements, rather than muscle tension. While also used in self-defense, Tai Ji has innumerable applications, including relieving the physical effects of stress on the body and mind, improving strength and flexibility, increasing internal circulation, and promoting relaxation.

Due to her patients’ requests, Carreiro led her own research of Tai Ji’s benefit upon Parkinson’s patients. Carreiro and her colleagues reported that Tai Ji appeared to reduce the number of falls in Parkinson’s patients. The Tai Ji patients – when contrasted with the control group which did not take Tai Ji classes after 12 weeks – were less likely to have an increase in the severity of their Parkinson’s disease and less likely to have a decline in motor function.

In a separate study, Tai Ji was proven to improve balance control in healthy elderly subjects. Forty-nine community-dwelling elderly subjects voluntarily participated in an intervention program of either supervised Tai Ji or general education for 90 minutes, six-times a week for eight weeks. Researchers witnessed incredible improvements of balance in elderly subjects after as little as four weeks.

Clearly, Tai Ji is more than a Chinese balancing act. This ancient art form increases balance, mobility, and increases motor and muscle awareness. Thousands of Parkinson’s disease sufferers have benefited from this joint-friendly exercise and experienced reduced symptoms of the disease.

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Traditional Chinese Medicine as an Alternative Therapy for ADHD

By Michelle Fletcher

The most common diagnosis given to children in the United States is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and it is present in over 10% of boys and 5% of girls. The production of the drug Ritalin has increased seven times in the 1990s alone and is the leader in prescription drugs to treat this disorder. The stimulant (also known as methylphenidate) may be prescribed for children as early as five years old (Donovan, DM. 2000). With millions of children suffering from this disorder, more and more parents are asking for alternative  treatments that do not utilize prescription drugs.

Doctor and licensed acupuncturist, Harry Hong, believes that the first step towards an alternative for ADHD is, “to understand that ADHD is a so-called ‘only-in-America phenomenon.’ With 5% of the world population, the United States consumes 90% of its Ritalin.” Doctors in other countries treat the condition in an entirely different way. The Chinese, for example, believe ADHD-associated behaviors are normal ways for preschool-age children to behave. Such behaviors can be changed when they go to school at age six or seven. If children still suffer severe difficulties, more tests for ADHD are performed.

Because of its safe and natural therapies, acupuncture is often the first choice for treating ADHD in China. There have been numerous clinical trials using Chinese herbs alone to help ADHD children – and most report positive results.

Chinese medicine utilizes a combination of ancient healing herbs to treat ADHD, including Rehmannia root, Phellodendron bark, Anemarrhena root, Acori graminei root, Polygala root, and Dioscorea opposita. In one randomized trial, researchers found that a combination of such herbs reduced hyperactivity,  improved attention,  and improved academic performance.

Ear acupuncture has also shown promising results for treating ADHD. Originated in China thousands of years ago, auricular acupuncture may be used alone or in combination with body acupuncture to solve medical illnesses through the stimulation of points with needles, electricity,  laser, or other devices. Other alternative methods with a basis in acupuncture – like Esogetic Colorpuncture Therapy – have been implemented into American treatment for ADHD.

The Institute for Esogetic Colorpuncture and Energy Emission Analysis in Boulder, Colorado reviewed a number of international studies to determine the effectiveness of Esogetic Colorpuncture Therapy (ECT) and its ability to treat numerous health problems, including headaches, childhood insomnia, and ADHD. In all the studies, the findings showed dramatic improvement of symptoms after ECT treatments. This suggests that ECT may offer fast, economical, non-invasive,  and non-toxic methods for treating the selected health problems, and that ECT continues to show promise as a powerful new method for holistic healing.

Traditional Chinese medicine can be used as an alternative therapy to treat children with ADHD. Both herbal treatments and acupuncture may likely serve as a primary treatment for mild to moderate ADHD in children in the United States.

Donovan, DM. An Alternative Approach to ADHD. Harv Ment Health Lett. 2000;16(11):5-7.
Hong, Harry. Treating Children with ADHD the Natural Way. www.harryhong.com
Wang, LH., et al. Clinical and Experimental Studies on Tiaoshen Liquor for Infantile Hyperkinetic Syndrome. Chung Kuo Chung His I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih 1995; 15:337-40.
Croke, M. A review of Recent Research Studies on the Efficacy of Esogetic Colorpuncture Therapy – a Holistic Acu-light System. Am J Acupunt. 1999;27(1-2):85-94.

Donovan, DM. An alternative approach to ADHD. Harv Ment Health Lett. 2000;16(11):5-7.

Hong, Harry. Treating Children with ADHD the Natural Way. www.harryhong.com

Wang, LH., et al. Clinical and experimental studies on Tiaoshen Liquor for infantile hyperkinetic syndrome. Chung Kuo Chung His I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih 1995; 15:337-40.

Croke, M. A review of recent research studies on teh efficacy of Esogetic Colorpuncture Therapy – a wholistic acu-light system. Am J Acupunt. 1999;27(1-2):85-94.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.

 ~Anonymous

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - September 2007 | Issue 42






In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates

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Tai Ji as a Beneficial Exercise for Seniors

By: Michelle Fletcher

More and more seniors are becoming physically active—reaping the countless health benefits associated with regular exercise. If power walking and your run-of-the-mill strength building exercises are uninteresting, the no-impact Chinese exercise Tai Ji is an excellent way to tone muscle, increase endurance, and gain balance.

In a recent study in Annals of Behavioral Medicine, researchers concluded that the movements associated with Tai Ji helped seniors improve their physical functioning. Study participants who took Tai Ji twice a week for a six-month period noticed a significant improvement in their ability to accomplish daily tasks such as carrying groceries, walking up stairs, or moving medium-sized objects.

“It was concluded that the six month Tai Ji exercise program was effective for improving functional status in healthy, physically inactive older adults. A self-paced and self-controlled activity such as Tai Ji has the potential to be an effective, low-cost means of improving functional status in older persons.” Most notably, those who took Tai Ji were less likely to fall—one of the largest causes of serious injury for seniors.

Tai Ji practice can reduce the inconsistency of arm movement force output by older adults. In a study performed at the University of Houston, scientists concluded, “Tai Ji practice may serve as a better real world exercise for reducing force variability in older adults’ manual performance.”

The movements of Tai Ji combine the elements of balance, toning and aerobic exercises, through slow, graceful actions. When practiced regularly, Tai Ji positively affects overall health and wellbeing. Flexibility enables seniors to reach the top shelf, while balance aids in preventing serious falls. Practitioners will also develop stronger lungs—to walk without becoming winded—and improved leg strength—to easily rise from a seated position. Because it is a no-impact exercise, Tai Ji is especially well-suited for older adults.

Tai Ji has three major components: movement, meditation, and deep breathing. All major muscle groups are utilized to articulate the gentle, slow movements of Tai Ji. Further, its movements improve strength, flexibility, coordination, and muscle tone. The exercise may help slow bone loss, and prevent osteoporosis. The meditative aspect of Tai Ji soothes the mind, reduces anxiety, enhances concentration, and lowers blood pressure. The deep breathing releases tension, enhances blood circulation to the brain, and supplies the body with fresh oxygen.

For older adults seeking an effective, no-impact exercise with a multitude of benefits, Tai Ji is an excellent choice to free the mind and energize the body.

Li, F., et al. “An evaluation of the effects of Tai Chi exercise on physical function among older persons: a randomized control trial.” Annuals of Behavioral Medicine., 2001Spring; 23(2):139-46.

Li F. 145.

Yan, JH. “Tai Chi practice reduces movement force variability for seniors.” J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1999 Dec;54(12):M629-34.

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Traditional Chinese Medicine to Lower Blood Pressure

By Kathleen Rushall

Traditional Chinese medicine is a large practice composed of many aspects. There is acupuncture (the use of small needles to free and aid one’s qi), qi gong (a self healing art that combines meditation and movement), massage therapy, herbs, and various manners of meditation, to name a few. Each practice has specific ailments that it can aid, and some may overlap in their benefits. For example, there is new evidence that the ancient arts of acupuncture and qi gong can help with hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.

High blood pressure directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease (which leads to heart attack) and stroke, especially when it's present with other risk factors. It can occur in both adults and children, but is most prevalent in people over 35. Hypertension can be a dangerous condition when left untended, but is also a manageable one. Western medicine generally prescribes medication and healthier eating habits to control hypertension. While these lifestyle changes are always beneficial, there are some Eastern practices that may prove even more successful, particularly when in conjunction with those from the West.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) published a study in 2003 that declared qi gong reduced blood pressure and catecholamine (chemical compound) levels in patients with essential hypertension. Fifty-eight patients volunteered to participate in this study and were randomly divided into either a qi gong group or a wait list control group. In response to 10 weeks of qi gong, systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and rate pressure product (RPP) were decreased significantly. The conclusion stated that, “There was a significant reduction of norepinephrine, epinephrine, cortisol, and stress level…these results suggest that qi gong may reduce BP and catecholamines via stabilizing the sympathetic nervous system.” This is just one publication that discusses the benefits of Eastern practices for blood pressure.

The Taoist Sanctuary of San Diego published an article that details the practice of qi gong. In this article it is explained that, “Various types of breathing will affect the body in different ways. Abdominal diaphragmatic breathing will lower the blood pressure, activate peristalsis, and increase the venous return of oxygenated blood. This increases the overall oxygen level of the blood.” In a mind over matter practice, qi gong can help to keep blood pressure under control along with levels of stress, anxiety, and energy. 

Medscape Medical News published an article called Blood Pressure Changes with Acupuncture Comparable to Those with ACE Inhibitor Monotherapy. Shelley Wood describes the study that the article was based on and explains that it’s the first randomized trial in the West to test acupuncture against sham needle technique to treat hypertension. The conclusion of the study was positive in regard to acupuncture, stating that “…performed properly, acupuncture may produce blood pressure changes on par with monotherapy in mild-to-moderate hypertension.” This is the best possible effect of acupuncture regarding blood pressure.

Wood also explains that, “After three and six months, the blood pressure reductions disappeared, leading investigators to conclude that ongoing acupuncture treatments would be required to maintain the blood pressure reductions.” So, acupuncture must be consistently practiced to maintain its benefits on high blood pressure. Like healthy eating or exercise, acupuncture treatments should be consistent for the best long-term results. Once high blood pressure occurs, it can last a lifetime. It becomes integral to the quality of one’s life to control and treat high blood pressure. Known as the silent killer because of its lack of symptoms, it makes perfect sense that alternative medical practices that focus on being in tune with one’s own body, such as qi gong or acupuncture, are successful tools for monitoring and lowering blood pressure.

NCBI. Qi gong reduced blood pressure and catecholamine levels of patients with essential hypertension. 2003 Dec. 113 (12): 1691-701.

Wood, Shelley. Blood Pressure Changes with Acupuncture Comparable to Those with ACE Inhibitor Monotherapy. Medscape, Medical News. 2007, June, 15.

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Benefits of Shiatsu Massage

By Michelle Fletcher

 Over the past few decades, massage has grown from a periodic indulgence to a key component of overall fitness, wellness, and health in Western society. Massage has proven to reduce stress, rejuvenate the body, and provide therapy for various medical ailments. Many health providers now list massage therapists with general practitioners, optometrists, and dentists. Each year, thousands of individuals are exposed to massage therapy for their first time.

Massage takes on many forms; the most common is Swedish or deep-tissue massage. Techniques designed to increase blood flow to problem areas and invigorate the muscles, Swedish massage is made up of long, rhythmic strokes, circular actions, and kneading. Those receiving Swedish massage experience improved circulation, relaxation, and reduction of stress.

Shiatsu is yet another form of massage, based upon the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  Shiatsu is a Japanese word meaning, “finger pressure,” and its goal is similar to that of acupuncture or acupressure: to restore the balance of energy (qi) in the body. Practitioners of Chinese medicine and shiatsu massage assert that disease and physical infirmities are caused by blockages or imbalances in the flow of energy throughout the body. Shiatsu practitioners strive to balance positive and negative energies (yin and yang) within the body to achieve balance and homeostasis within the body. A buildup or deficiency of one type of energy can cause illness, pain, or other problems in the body.

Using the concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine, shiatsu massage utilizes points along one of the body’s meridians, applying force pressure to the point with hand. These points may be anywhere on the body, including the hands, feet, elbows, back, arms, legs, etc. Shiatsu is a mind-body experience, providing both physical and spiritual benefits. Balanced qi energy promotes physical comfort, improved health, and emotional health and stability.

Shiatsu is not merely a tool of Chinese medicine, but an applicable treatment for common ailments. A study at Drake University proved that shiatsu massage helped alleviate back pain in patients. “Shiatsu… was used as an intervention in the study of 66 individuals complaining of lower back pain.” After following a designated number of treatments, subjects showed a great deal of improvement in mobility, energy, and pain in the lower back region. “Both pain and anxiety decreased significantly over time. …These subjects would recommend shiatsu massage for others suffering from lower back pain and indicated the treatments decreased the major inconveniencies they experiences with their lower back pain.”

A Swiss study confirmed these results. “Shiatsu massage can rapidly induce measurable relaxation in distant muscles not directly massaged, and is accompanied by signs of neurovegetative calming.” Clearly, shiatsu massage affects both the body in mind, restoring the body’s energy balance and promoting an overall feeling of satiety and wellbeing.

Unlike clinical settings, shiatsu massage provides a welcoming environment. Those new to shiatsu should enjoy the arm, comforting atmosphere and relax into the specialized bodywork provided. It is best to wear light cotton clothing, as treatments are made on a fully clothed body. Most treatments take about 45 – 60 minutes, offering time for the mind to drift and meditate.

There are many benefits from shiatsu massage:

  • Deep tissue and muscle relaxation
  • The releasing of toxins from the body
  • Stress reduction
  • Disease prevention
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Increased flexibility
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Balanced life energy (qi)
  • Increased mental awareness

Whether seeking treatment for ailing muscles, a mental release, or complement to physical therapy, shiatsu massage is an excellent way to relax, align energies, and promote overall wellbeing in the body.


Brady, LH., Henry, K., et al. The effects of shiatsu on lower back pain. Journal of Holistic Nursing. 2001 Mar;19(1):57-70.

Brady 1.

Zullino, DF., et al. Local back massage with an automated massage chair: general muscle and psychophysiologic relaxing properties. Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine. 2005 Dec;11(6):1103-6.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.

~  Confucius

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - July 2007 | Issue 40






In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates

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TCM During Summer

The Five Element Theory serves as a major diagnostic and treatment tool in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  It is based on the observation of the natural cycles and interrelationships in the environment and within ourselves.  For example, there are five environmental elements – Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood – each corresponding with certain body organs, such as the heart, spleen, lungs, kidneys, liver, intestines, stomach, urinary bladder and gull bladder.  The five different elements are associated with different times of the year: Fire with summer, Earth with late-summer, Metal with autumn, Water with winter and Wood with spring. 

The five elements interact with each other (they depend on each other).  For example, the liver, belonging to the Wood element, directly affects the spleen, which belongs to the Earth element.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners try to maintain a balance among the body’s organs.

TCM practitioners pay attention to weather, especially very extreme weather, like an unusually windy spring, warm spells during winter or cold snaps during summer.  Extreme or unusual weather can cause health imbalances in people.  Health problems tend to occur during or immediately following certain seasons.  It is important to notice these changes in weather, so preventative action can be taken against an imbalance.

If a person is imbalanced, he or she may become depressed or, on the other side of the spectrum, have an excess of joy.  Agitation, nervous exhaustion, heartburn and insomnia are other indicators of an imbalance.  When balanced, the heart circulates blood properly, creating a healthy breakdown of food in the small intestines.  Emotionally, there is a fulfillment from the balanced equilibrium of the heart and mind. 

Fire is the element of summer.  It is connected with the heart and pericardium as well as the small intestine and triple heater.  Growth, joy and spiritual awareness between the heart and mind are the focus during summer.

The small intestine represents our ability to take in and to save what we want and to discard the things we don’t want.  What we eat, see, hear and feel are all processed by the small intestine’s energy.

We relate to others through the Fire element.  Therefore, summer is a good time to change our connections with the external world.  We can change our relationships with people.  The energy of the pericardium relates to our intimate bonding with partners, making summer a great time to ponder your relationships with others and manifest them to your liking.

TCM practitioners believe that a person should cater his or her diet to the seasons.  Because summer is associated with the heart, it is important to eat foods that benefit the heart.  For example, using olive oil, which is low in cholesterol, is a great way to prevent heart attacks.

It is important in any season to prevent illness.  Summer heat can produce excess body heat, profuse sweating, parched mouth and throat, constipation and heart palpitations.  Therefore, it is important to keep hydrated and cool.  In order to maintain balance, it is important to be aware of the seasons and to modify your habits according to them.

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Yoga eases menopause symptoms

By: Michelle Fletcher, B.A., http://michellefletcher.net

The benefits of yoga extend beyond the flexibility and relaxation gleaned from our Saturday morning class. Men and women of all ages have benefited from regular yoga sessions, but now studies are highlighting yoga’s many benefits for menopausal women.

Yoga stretches can benefit both the body and the mind, bringing energy and balance, says Susan M. Lark, M.D. in her book, The Estrogen Decision Self Help Book. This is particularly helpful to women who are currently in menopause or in menopause transition because their hormonal levels and body chemistry may be fluctuating rapidly. This can leave women feeling out of balance and truly victims of their changing bodies. Yoga exercises level out this physiological instability by relaxing and gently stretching every muscle in the body, promoting better blood circulation and oxygenation to all cells and tissues. This helps optimize the function of the endocrine glands and the organs of the female reproductive tract. Yoga exercises also improve the health and well-being of the digestive tract, nervous system, and all other organ systems.

A Pennsylvania State University study confirms Lark’s findings. “The surprising aspect of the study is that we found a significant association between changes in cardiorespiratory fitness and changes in menopausal symptoms,” said lead author Steriani Elavsky, Ph.D., of Penn State University. One hundred sixty-four sedentary menopausal women were randomly assigned to a walking program, a yoga program or a control group that did no additional exercise for four months. The women who walked or took yoga classes reported a better quality of life and reduced negative effects of menopause compared to the no-exercise group. The women who walked or took yoga classes reported improvements in mood and menopause-related quality of life compared to the no-exercise group.

Walking was chosen because it is an aerobic activity, while yoga was chosen because it is not aerobic, Elavsky said in an article in Annuals of Behavioral Medicine. The results concluded that both yoga and walking were effective at enhancing subjects’ quality of life. Whether menopausal symptoms improved or worsened appeared to be determined by increases or decreases in cardiorespiratory fitness. Women who experienced decreases in menopausal symptoms in the study also experienced improvements in all positive mental health and quality of life outcomes.

Each year, over 1.5 million women reach menopause. In addition, over 80% of these women will suffer unpleasant symptoms, including night sweats, hot flashes, anxiety, irritability or emotional instability.

A study performed at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center researched the feasibility and acceptability of a restorative yoga intervention for the treatment of hot flashes in postmenopausal women. Feasability was measured by recruitment rates, subject retention and adherence to the designed program. The majority of subjects – over 93% completed the trial – and felt overall satisfied by the results. “This pilot trial demonstrates that it is feasible to teach restorative yoga to middle-aged women without prior yoga experience,” according to the study. “The high rates of subject retention and satisfaction suggest that yoga is an acceptable intervention in this population. Our results indicate that a larger, randomized controlled trial to explore the efficacy of restorative yoga for treatment of menopausal symptoms would be safe and feasible.”

Just an hour of yoga three times a week is enough to make a difference in one’s body. Yoga is rejuvenating, revitalizing, relaxing and energizing: sure to improve uncomfortable side-effects of nature’s course through menopause. Through the ageless art of yoga, says Susan Winter Ward in an article on the Yoga Learning Center Web site, women can balance their energies physically, emotionally, and spiritually as they go through menopause. 

Yoga instructors recommend making a commitment to two or three classes a week for a month, then assess how you feel. Do you have more energy? Are you more relaxed? How is your flexibility? Have you been less irritable? Most women notice a difference after just a month of regular practice.

The benefits of regular yoga practice have been demonstrated for over 5,000 years: more the reason to give it a chance when battling menopausal symptoms.

Ward concludes, “Through consciously embracing the menopause experience and deciding how we want to live the rest of our lives; by being responsible for how we choose to navigate this transition time; and by taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually, we can regard menopause as the opportunity for rejuvenation that it is and live more fully than ever with renewed vitality, inner peace and power.”

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Antioxidant Properties of Black Tea

Tea is a natural beverage without any artificial coloring, flavoring or preservatives.  It is also free of cholesterol and calories.  Tea is one of the most common beverages consumed around the globe.  One out of every two people in the world today is a tea drinker.  It has been estimated that around 3.2 million tons of tea were produced in the year 2004. 

Tea is made by processing the leaves or buds of the tea bush.  The degree of fermentation that the tea leaves undergo determines what type of tea will be produced: white tea, green tea, or black tea.

Different teas contain different amounts of caffeine.  The exact proportion of caffeine in each type of tea is still under consideration.  Black tea, which is made from leaves that have been fully oxidized, contains more caffeine than green or white tea. 

Apart from caffeine, tea also contains certain amounts of antioxidants.  Tea, especially black tea, contains a similar amount of antioxidants as fruits and vegetables
 
Antioxidants are the properties found in some foods and tea, which help reduce the risk of certain diseases, such as cancer and heart ailments.  The antioxidants contained in tea play a major role in protecting the body against certain illnesses.  The intake of food that is rich in fats increases the blood lipid levels, which in turn produces free radicals.  These free radicals cause blood vessels to stiffen and shrink.  Antioxidants attack these free radicals in the blood. 

Tea could be a great replacement to coffee.  It has caffeine to keep you alert and studies show that is can be beneficial to your health.  Tea is also easily available as it is so widely used around the world.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.”
   
    - Confucius