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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - February 2010 | Issue 73

In this issue you will find:

Important PCOM Dates:

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Massage Can Help With Breast Cancer

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.

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Acupuncture and Herbs Helping With Infertility

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.

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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).

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

“A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.”

~ Confucius

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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - January 2010 | Issue 72

In this issue you will find:


Important PCOM Dates:


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Acupuncture Can Help with Weight Loss

It's a staggering fact that as many as a quarter of all Americans are overweight. In their struggle to lose those excess pounds, Americans spend over 33 billion dollars every year on weight-loss programs. Regrettably, a whopping 95 percent fail in their attempt to lose the weight they need to maintain good health. Fortunately, acupuncture can help.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine, sterile needles at specific body points or "energy pathways." The inserted needles act to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural "feel good" hormones. This can create a calming, relaxing effect, which counteracts the need for excessive eating brought about by increased stress, frustration, or anxiety. In this respect, acupuncture can calm those so afflicted and help them lose weight without resorting to drugs.

Several studies have shown that when acupuncture is combined with traditional methods of weight loss, patients lose more weight. In these cases, one to three acupuncture weight loss sessions can be safe and effective in helping people achieve reasonable weight loss goals.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the belief is that excessive weight gains are caused mainly by an imbalance in the body due to a malfunction of the spleen and liver organ systems. Skilled acupuncture practitioners will zero in on specific body areas to effect weight loss. Among these are the endocrine system and kidneys, which are addressed to treat water retention and to stimulate nerve and hormonal rebalance. The spleen and thyroid gland are also targeted to effect sugar and hormonal rebalancing. Finally, the adrenal and ovary glands are included to treat weight gain due to menopause or Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Some people notice the effects of acupuncture fairly quickly and only require treatments every other week.

Another Chinese acupuncture practice for losing weight is ear stapling. This involves manipulating points on the ear to control food cravings. Auricular acupuncture has been used successfully to help cigarette smokers and heroin addicts kick their drug habits. When properly administered by a qualified acupuncturist, this technique may help some people lose weight. One study, published in Medical Acupuncture, found that ear acupuncture combined with a 2,000 calorie a day diet and a 15-minute walk helped reduce weight. The study involved 20 obese women, 22 to 42 years of age. Half of those who received weekly 15-minute sessions of ear acupuncture lost an average of 10 pounds. Those without ear acupuncture averaged only a three-pound loss. Moreover, the women who received the acupuncture treatments reported a decrease in appetite.

It is important to note that ear acupuncture treatments must be administered by a qualified acupuncturist. For the best results, these treatments should be combined with a reduced calorie diet and appropriate physical exercise. The critical point to be made here is that acupuncture should be viewed as a support system not a sole modality.

As with all medical conditions, always seek the advice of a doctor before beginning any acupuncture treatments for weight loss.

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Massage Benefits in HIV-Positive Children

Today, millions of children worldwide live with HIV. Regrettably, global access to antiretroviral drugs is not readily available. Massage therapy, which has been shown to improve immune function in HIV-positive adults and adolescents, may boost the immune systems of young children living with HIV.
A strong immune system allows the body to shore up its disease-fighting arsenal. In contrast, a weakened immune system is an open invitation for disease. For HIV patients, the immune system must be continuously built up to prevent the patient from succumbing to the illness. Research has proven the benefits of massage therapy among patients who were HIV-positive. Massage boosts immune system function by reducing anxiety and stress, increasing white blood cell counts, and decreasing the levels of the stress hormone, Cortisol, which has been noted to destroy immune cells. Massage has also been shown to activate the body's natural killer cells.

Although massage therapy, consisting of rubbing, kneading, squeezing, and stretching of muscles, has not been regularly prescribed for HIV or AIDS, recent research suggest that properly administered massage therapy may help preserve the immune systems of HIV-positive children who lack access to antiretroviral medication.
Studies at the Mayo Clinic found that HIV patients who underwent massage therapy had increased levels of natural killer (NK) cells that fight viral cells. Measuring cellular levels of natural killer cells and other immune system helper cells has been the metric used by researchers to determine the efficacy of massage therapy.

In a recent study*, 54 HIV-positive children without antiretroviral medication were randomly assigned to either a massage group or a friendly visit control group. Those in the massage group received two 20-minute massage sessions per week for 12 weeks. Those in the friendly visit control group received two 20-minute friendly visits. Trained nurses administered moderate-pressure stroking and kneading massages. The study revealed that massage therapy appears to have a positive impact on immune function in HIV-positive children not receiving antiretroviral medications. Massaged children showed reduced lymphocyte loss (lymphocytes are the body's primary means of immune function).
In evaluating massage therapy as beneficial for those suffering from HIV**, the factors that appeared to strengthen the immune system were pressure strokes, dosage, and duration of massage therapy. The effect on the immune system was even more pronounced when pressure was applied with multiple-dose massages of longer duration. A full-body stress management approach was most beneficial. The most effective techniques were twice weekly, one-hour sessions of acupressure, trigger-point therapy, and deep strokes extended over several months for best immune-enhancing results.
If a child is HIV-positive, first consult a primary care physician before attempting massage therapy. The doctor may recommend the appropriate treatment. If massage is suggested, 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.

*Preliminary Report on the Efficacy of Massage Therapy to Preserve the Immune System in Children without Antiretroviral Medication.” University of Miami School of Medicine, Division of Disease Prevention, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Medicine, and Touch Research Institutes; and staff at Robert Reid Cabral Children’s Hospital in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

** Diego MA, Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Shaw K, Friedman L, Ironson G. HIV adolescents show improved immune function following massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 2001;106:35-45.

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Qi Gong Can Relieve Stress and May Help with Heart Disease

Qi Gong (pronounced chee-GUNG) massage, a Chinese acupressure technique that dates back thousands of years, has often been used to reduce stress, a major contributor to the development of heart disease.

An ancient martial art related to Tai Chi, Qi Gong literally means “energy practice.” Qi Gong uses pressure points and gripping, tapping, and rolling techniques to encourage the flow of a person's Qi. Qi Gong includes healing postures, movement, self-massage, breathing techniques, and meditation to improve the health and harmony of both mind and body. Hospitals in China include Qi Gong techniques as part of their healthcare programs. This is because, in addition to reducing stress, Qi Gong can reduce an individual's blood pressure. And evidence suggests that a 5 to 6 point drop in blood pressure can lower the risk of coronary heart disease by 15 to 20 percent.

Balancing the energy of blood and body fluid flow from the inside, Qi Gong can be self administered or applied by a professional. No special equipment or tools are required. A Qi Gong based massage may help smooth the flow of blood and Qi. It can help remove blockages caused by internal or external influences. In this way, Qi Gong empowers the body's own natural ability to heal itself.

What makes Qi Gong such a powerful stress-relieving tool is that it unites body and mind using three proven techniques. First, Qi Gong seeks to control one's breathing through exercises involving holding and releasing the breath in unison with movement. Combining deep breathing with postures and movement allows the body to naturally and automatically release hormones that relieve stress. Second, Qi Gong's precisely choreographed movements help contract and expand one's muscles, circulatory, and nervous pathways in very specific sequences. The movements are designed to encourage meditation, which has been shown to calm the mind and relax the body. Finally, Qi Gong focuses the mind and body on movement and breathing. This focus pushes out destructive, stressful thoughts and anxieties.

A typical Qi Gong session may begin with a person sitting or standing quietly while focusing on the Qi flowing through his or her body--all while performing breathing and movement exercises. The breathing and movements would be slow, focused, and carefully controlled. For example, the basic "standing meditation" technique can be one of the most effective postures for reducing stress. After initially getting one’s body into the correct posture, simply stand in one spot and do nothing. The effects of this exercise are usually not apparent until one has been standing for at least 15 minutes. After that, the energy blockages clear and stress decreases.
Qi Gong and massage therapies should only be used on the advice of a medical doctor and are not intended as a substitute for medical care or as a therapy to cure or prevent any diseases.

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

~ Confucius


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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - November 2009 | Issue 70

In this issue you will find:

Important PCOM Dates:

  • December 1st: (Tuesday) New York Open House

  • December 7th: (Monday) Chicago Open House

  • January 21st: (Thursday) New York Open House

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Traditional Chinese Medicine can Help Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue often occurs when people are stressed out at work or home. During periods of excessive stress, our adrenal glands become overworked and produce excess levels of cortisol in response to the body's fight or flight response. This prevents the adrenal glands from producing other hormones we need.

So how does one know if they have adrenal fatigue? The symptoms include listlessness and lack of energy, especially in the morning. People suffering from adrenal fatigue also like to take afternoon naps to "recharge their batteries." They always seem to lack the energy they need to perform the daily tasks of living. And they frequently crave foods high in carbohydrates, sugar and caffeine. Another symptom of adrenal fatigue is that sufferers just can't seem to get enough sleep. For some reason, adrenal fatigue typically occurs more often in women than men. Some studies show that adrenal fatigue may even be linked to fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism.

Traditional Chinese medicine regards adrenal fatigue as a deficiency in the kidneys. Initial treatments usually begin with the Kidney Yin building herbs--such as Rehmannia root--which should be taken for a period of 60 to 120 days. Follow up treatments include the Kidney Yang tonics. Among these are Fenugreek, a warm, bitter and aromatic seed that can be prepared as a gruel with milk or tea; Damiana, spicy leaves combined with cinnamon, dried ginger and lemon peel; and Ashwaganda, a bittersweet powder used to improve sleep and clear the stressed mind (mix a teaspoon of the powder in heated raw milk and drink daily).

Changing one's diet can have a significant impact on reducing the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. In particular, changing when and how much one eats during the day can produce some positive results. Instead of eating three big meals per day, small meals spaced out more frequently during the day can help. One should also eat foods that nurture the kidney. These include pork, sprouts, eggs, beans, barley, sardines, cheese and blueberries. Other foods that may help one's kidney yin deficiency include kidney beans, black sesame seeds, walnuts, asparagus, sweet potato, string beans, celery, parsley, grapes and plums. In addition, one should consider avoiding heavily sugared sodas, alcohol, and highly salted foods. Smokers should try to stop or at least cut down on their intake of tobacco. And by all means, stress and other emotional strains should be avoided, if possible.

Acupuncture can also help suffers of adrenal fatigue. TCM practitioners will stimulate key points associated with the kidney. In some cases, acupressure may be self-applied just inside the ankle between the medial malleolus and the Achilles tendon. One should massage the area in a clockwise motion for five minutes on each side of the foot and repeat daily for best results.

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Natural Immunity Boosts

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 that 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. 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.

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.”

In 2007, researchers at Emory University in Atlanta researched the use of alternative medicine on HIV-positive women. The use of complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) to treat chronic illness, especially HIV, is becoming increasingly widespread. Their findings showed that many people suffering from HIV are incorporating complimentary and alternative medicine – including the use of herbs – as an alternative to prescribed antiretroviral regimens (HAART).

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.

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Studies Indicate Acupuncture Can Improve Memory and Learning Capacity

The key modalities of TCM are mainly designed to do one thing – restore the flow of qi, or “vital energy.” Interestingly enough, these modalities such as acupuncture, are proving to be effective when studied in the treatment of diseases or conditions that allopathic (Western) medicine recognizes as being due to blockages of some sort.

Case in point, a very recent study showed that acupuncture can be very helpful in improving decreased learning and memory capacity, when such loss is associated with cerebral ischemia – or decreased blood flow, to the brain.

The study was published in 2008 in the medical journal Neuroscience Letters, and investigated the efficacy of electro acupuncture. In electro acupuncture a very minute electric current is introduced into the needles. The study was conducted using rats whose memory and cognitive functions were impaired by the hyperglycemic and decreased circulatory effects of diabetes resulting in cerebral ischemia. In such studies memory and learning ability is measured in terms of long-term potentiation, or LTP. LTP is defined as the ability of two adjacent neurons to communicate with each other; it is LTP that is impaired in cerebral ischemia and other related cognitive disorders.

In the study, after stimulation via electro acupuncture, significant LTP was restored in the diabetic rats. These results indicate that electro acupuncture can be effective in restoring memory and learning capacity in conditions such as cerebral ischemia, where impaired LTP is a factor.

In a related study, standard acupuncture techniques have also been shown to help with certain specific memory syndromes, most notably, what is colloquially referred to as “post-menopausal brain fog.” During perimenopause and menopause many women report memory loss, which often continues after menopause. Western medicine attributes this “brain fog” to estrogen’s role in stimulating the brains production of acetylcholine, which is a chemical related to rapid recall. This particular study and others published in the Journal of Chinese Medicine have shown acupuncture’s ability to promote the production of estrogens, and ease many of the symptoms of menopause including osteoporosis, and presumably estrogen related memory loss.

The studies suggested that “acupuncture at shenshu plus a point of the lower conception vessel may aid endocrine function and normalize hormone levels, while the governing vessel points on the neck (at GV-16) and head (at GV-20) may specifically augment the treatment effects for improving mental function.”

Studies such as these provide evidence-based verification that TCM modalities can be helpful in preventing and/or treating Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions of age related memory loss.

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

“He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”

~ Anonymous

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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - January 2010 | Issue 71

In this issue you will find:

Important PCOM Dates:


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Pacific College Celebrates the Chinese New Year

In celebration of Chinese New Year and the commencement of the Year of the Tiger, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine will provide free events that are open to the public on each of its three campuses.

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago will be holding a Chinese New Year celebration on Saturday, February 6, 2010 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The event will include information about Pacific College’s master’s, associate’s and bachelor’s programs, as well as free acupuncture and massage treatments. Free lectures will given by experts and practitioners in the field and the community is invited to participate in Tai Ji and Qi Gong movement workshops.

Pacific’s New York campus will be hosting a similar Chinese New Year Celebration consisting of an Open House and a free celebration for the public on Saturday, February 20, 2010. The open house will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This is an admissions information session for prospective students. From 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., the campus will hold a Chinese New Year Celebration, which will include complimentary acupuncture treatments and massage demonstrations for the public. Additionally, two lectures titled, “Chinese Astrology: Year of the Tiger” and “Nutrition/Health Tips for the Winter” will be presented. The community can also participate in Qi Gong movement workshops.

Pacific’s San Diego campus will be hosting a free event for the public on Saturday, February 13, 2010 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the event will offer the public free acupuncture and massage treatments available on a first come first served basis. Not only will the event offer three different lectures given by experienced and well-known practitioners, but it will also offer movement workshops in Tai Ji and Qi Gong. The final hour of the event is an admissions information session for prospective students. This event is free and open to the public.

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Effect of Massage on Chronic Low Back Pain

Lower back pain is one of the most common conditions in the United States and a leading reason why people see a doctor. Four out of five adults will suffer from low back pain during their lives.

Unlike lower back pain, which is often caused by muscle strains, chronic lower back pain typically persists for more than three months. The pain may be progressive, or be characterized by flare-ups. The causes of chronic pain can be hard to pinpoint, but they can usually be linked to a degenerative disc disease or a lumbar herniated disc. While some doctors prescribe muscle relaxants, many patients prefer to avoid these drugs. People feel drowsy, dizzy, confused, lightheaded or less alert when using muscle relaxants. Other side effects include blurred vision, clumsiness or unsteadiness. Thus many patients are turning to massage therapy for relief. A survey conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association in 2001 found that an increasing number of adults were receiving massages from a therapist--over twice as many since 1997.

Many healthcare providers accept massage therapy as an effective treatment to relieve the symptoms of lower back pain. A majority of providers advise patients to combine massage therapy with medical treatment. Massage therapy can reduce lower back pain, depression and anxiety. It may also improve a patient's range of motion and elevate their serotonin and dopamine levels, allowing for enhanced sleep.

The American Massage Therapy Association points to research showing massage therapy improves blood circulation, relaxes muscles and increases endorphin levels. Endorphins are the feel-good chemicals the body produces to help us deal with pain.

A research study conducted by the Center for Health Studies in Seattle, Washington revealed that massage therapy could have prolonged benefits for sufferers of chronic back pain. In the study, 262 adults, aged 20 to 70, were given Swedish and deep-tissue massages, trigger-point therapy (applying pressure to tender muscle tissue), neuromuscular therapy and movement education. After 10 weeks, participants noted that the benefits of massage therapy continued well beyond the last treatment and persisted up to one year later.

Usually administered by a therapist, massage therapy uses fingers and hands to manipulate the soft tissues of the body such as muscles, skin and tendons. When administered by a trained professional, massage therapy is generally safe and has no adverse side effects. Patients with unhealed fractures, deep vein thrombosis, skin infections or open wounds should avoid this type of therapy. The same holds true for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis in the area to be massaged, or severe osteoporosis.

When suffering from chronic lower back pain, first consult a primary care physician before attempting massage therapy. If the doctor 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).

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Jin Shin Treatment Can Help Stroke Victims

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. This debilitating disease affects more than 700,000 individuals each year (or approximately one person every 45 seconds). It is also a leading cause of serious, long-term disability, confining thousands to wheelchairs and dependency for help in their daily lives.

Complementary and alternative medicines are frequently used to help stroke victims lead normal or semi-normal lives. A pilot study involving Jin Shin treatment revealed that it could improve motor function after patients suffered a stroke. The study involved seven post-stroke individuals with chronic mobility problems. Each participant had reported at least 19 months of problems, and each was randomly assigned to receive eight weeks of Jin Shin treatments. The result: participants noted a significant increase in moderate physical activity levels following their Jin Shin treatments. Researchers concluded that Jin Shin treatments had a positive effect on motor function in individuals who had suffered a stroke.

Jin Shin is the ancient art of bringing body, mind and spirit into unison. Practitioners use gentle, non-invasive touch methods to restore balance to the body's energy systems and thereby promote the health and well-being of a patient. In practice, the Jin Shin practitioner applies a series of hand placement techniques using 52 energy centers or “Safety Energy Locks” (26 on each side of the body) to restore harmony to body, mind and spirit. By holding specific acupressure points and areas of the body, this unique form of acupressure is able to channel the healing energy more deeply, to balance the underlying causes of physical and emotional disharmonies. Research studies reveal that when Jin Shin is combined with conventional medical treatment, it can help reduce symptoms of pain, nausea and vomiting after surgery, and improve recovery from cardiac procedures.

A typical Jin Shin session lasts about one hour. Patients rest comfortably, fully clothed on a cushioned treatment table. The session begins by taking a patient's pulse to determine if there are any blocked energy pathways. Jin Shin treatments do not involve massaging, manipulating, pressuring or rubbing the body. The practitioner simply makes light contact with fingertips on various body points in specific combinations. The points are held for several minutes until a pulsation is felt. Certain patterns, or flows, are chosen and followed to note any disharmonies. These irregularities are sometimes determined by listening to the pulses. As with many such non-invasive treatments, results are not always immediate. Several sessions are usually required for chronic conditions, however, patients usually feel better after just one or two sessions.
Jin Shin is not a substitute for medical care and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult a medical doctor before undergoing any Jin Shin treatments.

Study Source: P1. Functional improvement after stroke: a role for complementary medicine Theresa D. Hernández, Kristina McFadden, Alicia Segal, Bonnie Ivankovich, Christina Gavito, Shelah Huerta

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

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

~ Confucius

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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - November 2009 | Issue 69

In this issue you will find:


Important PCOM Dates:

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Great American Smokeout 2009 Quit Smoking With Acupuncture

According to the 1982 Surgeon General’s Report, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. That report is still accurate today. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 46.2 million American adults are current smokers – that is 22.8% of all adults; that's nearly one in four people. Even though lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, since smoking is a voluntary act, the mortality rate is preventable.

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine wants to help defeat this high mortality rate and to celebrate the strength of those that have managed to quit smoking completely. With the aid of Oriental medicine, Pacific College offers help to those trying to quit and encourages giving up cigarettes for good.

One of the most effective methods 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.

Since 1977, the American Cancer Society and Citizens for a Smokefree America have sponsored the Great American Smokeout, an event based on the idea that smokers who can manage to quit for a day can quit for good.

Pacific College’s San Diego campus will be celebrating the Great American Smokeout, 2009 on Friday, November 20, 2009. On this day, San Diego will be offering $15 acupuncture treatments; geared toward addiction problems to help people quit smoking habits.

On November 20, 2009, Pacific College’s Chicago campus will also be celebrating by offering free auricular acupuncture treatments from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Auricular acupuncture in particular can lessen a person’s addictive tendencies and provide a sense of calm and purpose. Since the best results of acupuncture are achieved with consistent treatments, Chicago’s clinic is offering a package of four auricular acupuncture treatments for smoking cessation, valued at $140, for only $110.

Pacific College’s New York campus offers auricular acupuncture treatments, known for assisting in smoking cessation, for only 12 dollars.

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Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Traditional Chinese Medicine can be helpful in treating a number if ailments. One common condition that many people suffer from is intolerance to gluten. What is gluten? It's the protein part of wheat, rye, barley, and other related grains. And for some people, gluten can be very hard to digest. When it comes in contact with the small intestine, it can create a condition known as celiac disease, which can injure the lining of the small intestine. This injury can ultimately result in weight loss, diarrhea, gas, abdominal cramps, or vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research estimates that at least 10 million people in the US are gluten-sensitive.

For those suffering from celiac disease, TCM would first eliminate gluten from one's diet. Doing this would allow the lining of the intestine to heal. This would be followed up by some traditional Chinese herbs. While many herbs contain gluten, some are gluten free.

TCM herbs that have been used to treat celiac disease include trifoliate orange, which would address bloating and digestive upsets. Fennel seeds are also recommended, as they can help regulate digestive tract functions. And nutmeg, which can easily be added to beverages, can be beneficial as well, for it tones the small intestine. Regardless of which TCM herb you choose, you should consult a Chinese herbal practitioner to advise you on the proper dosage.

Another condition often linked to gluten intolerance is dermatitis herpetiformis, an extremely itchy rash of bumps and blisters. These usually appear on the elbows, knees, back, and buttocks. In addition to antibiotics prescribed by your medical doctor, TCM would recommend a strict gluten-free diet to help control the disease. Such a diet may even remove the need for some medications and can prevent later complications.

For those with a gluten intolerance, adopting a gluten-free diet isn't easy. It means giving up many tasty, processed, shelf-stable foods. These include fattening wheat treats like soft chocolate chip cookies, take-out pizza, and donuts. On the other hand, it also means eating more fruits and vegetables to help your body fight off many common diseases.
To complicate matters, many who have chosen a gluten free diet have discovered that the offending grains are "hidden" in many foods. This is because food labeling is fraught with brand names that can be misleading. And adding insult to injury, staying gluten free can also up your grocery bill. But there is hope. Increasing numbers of health conscious shoppers have pushed the demand for gluten-free products. In 2008, more than 1,000 new gluten-free foods and beverages were introduced. So a gluten free lifestyle is becoming increasingly tasty, less boring and hopefully less expensive.

Those who enjoy Chinese food but still want to stay on a gluten free diet can enjoy Lo-Mein. Made with rice-stick noodles, Lo-Mein (a Chinese dish with noodles, vegetables and beef, chicken, pork, shrimp or wontons) is gluten free. That's because Lo-Mein's rice-stick noodles are made using only rice flour and water. So you get the taste without the gluten.

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Black Tea Aids Oral Health

According to the latest research, black tea is beneficial for overall oral health. Black tea, the most common among the three types of teas –black, green, and red – help to prevent bad breath and facilitates the well being of your teeth and gums.

As you relax with your cup of tea, the brew is actually getting rid of oral bacteria in your mouth. Polyphenols, one of the key components of black tea, have been found to inhibit growth of oral bacteria. New research presented by Christine Wu and Min Zhu of the University of Illinois states that catechins and theaflavins—polyphenols present in tea leaves—inhibit the growth of the oral bacteria. The bacteria killing action takes place over a 48-hour incubation period.

Research further reports that the two tea compounds also help to eliminate bad breath. The compounds inhibit the proper functioning of an enzyme that acts as a catalyst in the production of hydrogen sulphide, which contributes to bad breath. These research findings were presented at the 103rd General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Washington, D.C.

Black tea also comes in handy to ward off mouth infections such as strep throat and dental cavities. Researchers have found that polyphenols in combination with green tea extracts inhibit bacterial growth. These compounds when added to toothpaste or mouthwash increase their efficacy many times in combating microbial agents. Random surveys have reported that black tea reduces the incidence of dental cavities. Tea is a natural source of fluoride, therefore helping to promote healthy tooth enamel. Also, tannins present in black tea inhibit the growth of plaque-causing bacteria apart from inhibiting the action of salivary amylase, thus making their contribution in cavity prevention.

Components of tea such as tannins, caffeine, tocopherol and catechin are known to raise the acid resistance of tooth enamel. And their combination with fluoride, which is, as we said, a component of black tea heightens this effect. Studies have thus concluded that black tea may safely be recommended as a substitute for more acidic beverages, which contribute to dental erosion.

Black tea also has a role to play in prevention of oral cancer. People with a precancerous condition termed oral leukoplakia can cut down on the risk of oral cancer by drinking black tea. A study funded by the National Tea Research Foundation of India, has revealed that the polyphenols in black tea reverse cancer-causing changes to the DNA of cells lining the mouth. Oral leukoplakia is characterized by white patches or plaque in the mouth that are tough to do away with.

When taken with milk, black tea is also a good source of calcium. It contains traces of vitamin B2 and B6, manganese, potassium and zinc. As more research is done on the benefits of black tea, it is becoming more apparent that incorporating tea into our daily lives can benefit our health in a number of ways.

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

“He who depends upon himself will achieve the greatest happiness.”

~ Book of Odes


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