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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - July 2005 | Issue 9



In this issue you will find: Important Summer Dates
  • July 6 - Chicago Open House (MTOM)
  • July 15-17 - Vietnam Stand Down
  • July 17 - 23 - International Massage Week
  • July 28 - New York Open House

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Acupuncture Cures Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting

Acupuncture is proven to lessen PONV symptoms. One study, conducted in Sydney , Australia , found that the insertion of merely one needle in the P6 point (located near the wrist) would significantly reduce the likeliness of nausea and vomiting after surgery. A recent Duke University study showed 77 percent of women who received acupuncture after major breast surgery experienced no nausea.

Many consider PONV to be as debilitating as the pain associated with surgical procedure. It can cause anxiety and depression, and left uncontrolled, can delay recovery. The medical complications of PONV include possible wound disruption, esophageal tears, gastric herniation, muscular fatigue, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.  There is also an increased risk of pulmonary aspiration of vomitus. 

The cost implications of PONV can be serious. Delayed recovery, continued treatment, longer hospital stay, increased medical care and occasionally re-operation contribute to financial penalties. It is estimated to cost over $1.2 million per year in unanticipated hospital admissions for following day surgery alone, which represents only a small percentage of the incidence of PONV.

Acupuncture, along with its proven ability to relieve pain and bring the body into balance, benefits postoperative patients. It eases the difficult process of surgery, bringing comfort and haste to recovery.

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Oriental Medicine and Male Sexual Disorders
By: Marc Sklar, L.Ac.

Oriental Medicine To Improve Your Sex Life
Throughout Chinese history its society has been dominated by men. As this is an unfortunate reality it has also lead Chinese Medicine to be able to focus its medical knowledge on treating men's health and longevity. As far back as the Yellow Emperor's reign many classical texts were devoted to increasing men's sexual performance and health. Although centuries have past since the Yellow Emperor began inquiring about health and wellness, men today still look for various ways to stay healthy sexually.

Sexual health is not the only concern for men today. As men age they begin battling with various other male disorders. Aside from impotence, men also suffer from conditions affecting urination, the prostate and testicles.

How Chinese Medicine Views Sexual Disorders and Men's Health
Chinese Medicine can help treat various male disorders. At the center of treating all male disorders are the Kidneys. Although other organ systems tend to be involved such as the Liver, Spleen, Bladder, and Heart the kidneys are usually at the core of the problem. One of the kidneys major functions according to Chinese Medicine is storing Jing (essence). Jing is one of three treasures, Qi and Shen (spirit) being the other two. "The life-giving processes of nature are manifest in the concept of Jing. It can be understood as the sap of life, the irreducible essence that contains all the critical ingredients needed to make new life that shares characteristics with its source." As Jing has a direct connection with sperm in men you can begin to see why premature ejaculation and other sexual disorders are important to treat for the Chinese.

As a man ages Jing naturally depletes. As a man turn 40 the decline of kidney qi begins and with that Jing. Men experience their own kind of Men-opause as they age. This is different then that experienced by woman, as there is no single physiological change. This is still a time that brings many imbalances in men as estrogen begins to be the dominant hormone in the body.

Another reason why the kidneys are the focus of treatment is its close connection with urinary function. According to Chinese Medicine the kidneys govern the opening and closing. This function corresponds to urinary incontinence as well as premature ejaculation. Both of these functions depend upon the kidneys strength and control to govern these functions properly. If this ability is weakened someone might experience frequent urination, dribbling, or incontinence.

Acupuncture and Impotence
One condition that we hear about often on the television, in the newspapers and magazines, and on the radio is impotence. As mentioned previously, Chinese Emperors viewed sexual function as an important part of health and longevity. If an Emperor had impotence he would seek the advice of his medical staff, and in the case of Huang Di, the Yellow Emperor, her would ask the advice of Su Nu. Impotence is known as yang wei, which literally means flaccidity. Impotence refers to the inability to attain erection or the ability to attain only partial erection. This can be caused by several underlying reasons; however some of the more common causes are overindulgence in sexual activity and emotional disturbances.

Prostate Health
The condition of an enlarged prostate gland as a man ages is called benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). In BPH the prostate enlarges, the layer of tissue surrounding it stops it from expanding, causing the gland to press against the urethra. Symptoms commonly seen with BPH are:

. a hesitant, interrupted, weak stream

. urgency and leaking or dribbling

. more frequent urination, especially at night

These conditions, if left untreated, could lead to more serious conditions such as prostate cancer, urine retention, urinary tract infections, bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones, and incontinence.

BPH according to Chinese Medicine is categorized into diseases relating to urination. Historically there was no mention of an enlarged prostate. The Chinese had no way of knowing that a mans prostate was enlarged, but they were aware of the symptoms it caused. These symptoms of frequent nighttime urination, painful urination, and difficult urination were observed and thus categorized as disease categories which are used today to diagnose and treat BPH.

Male Infertility
Male infertility is rarely spoken about but can frequently be the problem when couples are having trouble conceiving. In many cases men have poor quality sperm or a decreased quantity. According to the World Health Organization guidelines normal sperm count consists of 20 million sperm per ejaculate, with 50 percent motility and 60 percent normal morphology (form). The amount of semen in the ejaculation matters, too. If the concentration is less than 20 million sperm per milliliter of ejaculate, it may impair fertility. Still, if the sperm show adequate forward motility -- the ability to swim -- concentrations as low as 5 to 10 million can produce a pregnancy. It is important to remember that only 25 years ago, counts of 100 million sperm per ejaculate were the norm. Time, the effects of our environment and/or lifestyle seem to be gradually degrading male sperm counts. Within Chinese medicine once again the kidneys play an important role in semen production and quality; however this is not the only cause for infertility in men. Many times infertility is caused by dampness in Chinese Medicine. One major way that dampness is produced is through poor and improper dietary habits. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is a large contributor to health problems and that remains true with infertility.

What Acupuncture Can Treat

Here is a brief list of Male Health problems that Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture can help:

* Premature Ejaculation

* Low Sperm Count

* Diminished Sperm Motility

* Impotence

* Hernias

* Testicular Pain

* Prostatitis

* Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy

* Male Infertility

* Male Climacteric (men-opause)

References:

The World Health Organization

" A Brief History of Qi" by Zhang Yu Huan and Ken Rose - Paradigm Publications, Brookline Mass, 2001

"Practical Therapeutics of Traditional Chinese Medicine" - by Yan Wu and Warren Fischer Paradigm Publications, Brookline , Mass, 1997

" A Handbook of TCM Urology and Male Sexual Dysfunction" - BY Anna Lin, Blue Poppy Press, Inc. Boulder Colorado , 1999

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Providing a Great Self Massage
Courtesy of BodyZone.com

A professional therapeutic massage is great and keeps your muscles working. But between massages by a pro, massaging yourself can help reduce stress and keep your body moving.

Making your own self-massage tool is easy!  To make your own BallSock all you need is a couple of tennis balls, an old sock, your own two hands and a few quiet minutes. Simply place two tennis balls in a sock and tie the end. Make sure the balls are about a hands width apart.

Lie comfortably on your back. Place the BallSock behind the upper neck, so the two balls are below ridge at the base of your skull (right above the hollow spot in the middle of your neck).  Rest for 5 minutes. Breathe slowly.  Listen to soothing music. The balls put pressure on acupuncture points and send messages telling muscles to relax, which can help relax your whole body.

Using your thumbs, start at your temples and make small circles, 3 times forward, and 3 times backwards. Then touch your face.  Very gently, cup your cheeks and temples with your hands for 3 breaths.

Move to your ears. Holding with firm pressure, pull them gently straight outward.  Alternate ears, pulling each ear up 7 times. Breathe slowly as you do. Then pull the tops of the ears straight up. Next, pull the earlobes straight down.

Rub your thumbs down your neck from your jaw to your collarbone 3 times, alternating sides.

Move down to the top of the chest.  Using your thumbs, make 3 small circles in the center of the pectoral muscles (on each side of the chest, in line with the nipple, half way between the nipple and the collarbone).

Move down to the area just above your kidneys and below your ribs (waist level where the tissue is still soft).  Rub briskly with your fists in a circular motion.

Finally, bending your knees, roll your body up towards your head.  Keep the balls in the middle of your spine and let them work the muscles of your back as you roll the balls down to your low back.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

"Like Weather, one's fortune may change by the evening."

Luu Mengzheng - Song Dynasty

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - June 2005 | Issue 8



In this issue you will find: Important June Dates
  • June 4 - San Diego Open House
  • June 5 -11 - National Headache Awareness Week
  • June 13-19 - National Men's Health Week
  • June 16 - New York Open House
  • June 25 - Chicago Summer Open House

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Tai Chi for Strength and Endurance
Study Finds Increased Muscle Gains in Elderly Subjects

Tai chi chuan ( tai chi ) is one of the most popular forms of exercise in China (and arguably the world). Originally practiced as a form of martial arts, tai chi consists of breathing exercises performed in conjunction with a series of body postures. These movements, practiced in a slow, sequential pattern, are designed to improve balance and alignment and enhance agility and coordination. People who practice tai chi often report attaining feelings of inner peace and a heightened self-awareness.

Although the advantages of tai chi have been known for hundreds of years, only recently have its effects on the human body been studied scientifically. One such study was performed earlier this year by a group of scientists at the National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei, the results of which were published in a recent issue of the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation .1 The researchers found that tai chi "may be beneficial to elderly individuals for muscular strength and endurance enhancement," and that it is safer, more cost-effective and easier to perform than other forms of exercise.

A research team led by Dr. Ching Lan evaluated the effects of tai chi on a group of 32 volunteers (15 men, 17 women) between the ages of 53-64. Subjects participated in a voluntary six-month tai chi program, which took place every morning in a park near the university.

Each session consisted of a 20-minute warmup period, 24 minutes of Yang tai chi training, and 10 minutes of cooldown exercises. Each set of tai chi included 108 postures, with some repeated body movements. During the exercise, subjects were led by a tai chi instructor and performed the same movements and postures at the same speed as the instructor.

Before the start of the program, the strength and endurance of each patient's knee extensor muscles were tested at various degrees, with patients undergoing several sets of extension-type exercises on their dominant and non-dominant legs. A dynamometer was used to measure changes in the muscle during both the concentric and eccentric phases of contraction.

Results and Conclusions

Both men and women appeared to show "significant" increases in muscle strength after participating in the tai chi program. In the male group, concentric knee extensor strength increased between 16.4-20.0% in the dominant leg and 15.1-19.7% in the non-dominant leg. Eccentric extensor strength increased between 15.1-23.7% in the dominant leg and 19.1-22.6% in the non-dominant leg.

Similar changes in strength were seen in the female group. Concentric knee extensor strength increased 13.5-19.3% in the dominant leg and 17.7-21.8% in the non-dominant leg; eccentric strength increased 18.6-23.7% in the dominant leg and 18.3-20.0% in the non-dominant leg.

While men and women experienced significant gains in extensor strength, increased extensor endurance levels were also reported for both groups. In men, endurance increased 9.6-18.8%; in the women, endurance increased 10.4-14.7%.

The researchers noted many advantages that tai chi may have over other conventional exercise routines. Unlike most physical activities, tai chi requires no specialized equipment and can be performed in a variety of locations, making it both practical and cost-effective.

"Low-technology exercises deserve more attention because they can be more easily implemented in the community," they said. "TCC is a low-technology approach to conditioning that can be implemented in the community with very low cost."

They also noted tai chi "seemed safe" compared to other exercises, particularly among elderly populations. For instance, while a small number of patients dropped out of the study because of lack of interest or health problems, none of the patients were forced to stop exercising because of injury. And while the different motions and postures can place considerable demand on the knee extensor muscles, most of the movements in tai chi are performed in a closed kinematic chain, which may prevent excess stress from being placed on the knee joints.

Some study limitations were also noted. As is the case with many pilot studies, no control group was used, weakening the scientists' overall findings. Lan's team also suggested that more than one test might be necessary to determine the strength of the subjects' extensor muscles because of a traditionally low reliability in test results among elderly patients.

Despite the limitations, it appears that tai chi does provide a benefit to its subjects, and that more studies are warranted to determine its effects not just among the elderly, but in a wide range of patients. As the researchers stated in their conclusion:

"TCC has the potential to reduce expenditures associated with poor health by facilitating a lifestyle that promotes wellness among people of all ages. From the perspective of exercise prescription, TCC is a promising alternative for strength training because of its efficacy and safety · Further controlled study is needed to validate this evidence."

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Acupuncture as Effective as Drug Therapy for Migraines & Headaches

June 5, 2005 marks the beginning of National Headache Awareness Week, and according to the National Headache Foundation, nearly 28 million Americans experience migraine headaches each year.

In one of the largest studies of its kind to date, a team of investigators in Italy examined the effectiveness of acupuncture versus a variety of pharmacological therapies in treating migraines. Their results, published in a 2001 issue of the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, revealed that patients given acupuncture experienced fewer migraine episodes, missed fewer days from work, and suffered no side effects compared to patients on conventional drug therapy. They also found acupuncture to be more cost-efficient, estimating a savings of hundreds of millions of dollars in private and social health expenditures if it were used to treat headaches alone instead of Western drugs.

Migraines can be caused by a variety of physical and environmental factors including diet, stress, allergens, menstruation, and changes in the weather. They can last from a few minutes to several days, which in some cases may completely incapacitate the person suffering an attack.

Acupuncture has been cited by the World Health Organization to treat over 43 conditions, including headaches and migraines, without the side effects typically associated with Western drugs. According to the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine, nearly one out of every 10 adults in the United States has tried acupuncture.

Migraine headaches are also one of the leading causes of time missed from work. It is estimated that migraine sufferers lose more than 157 million workdays each year, leading to a loss of approximately $50 billion per year due to absenteeism and medical expenses. An additional four billion dollars a year is spent on pain relievers for migraines and other headaches.

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Summer Health Notes

In Traditional Chinese Medicine our bodies and our selves reflect the natural world we live in. Being in harmony with the seasons increases health and well being.

  • Summer is a great time to run, jump, and play.
  • Put your heart into activities and relationships that bring joy to you and those around you. Find reasons to laugh. Seeking out and spreading positive energy can benefit your health, especially at this time of year.
  • The color of summer is red. Wearing bright colors, flowers in the home, and eating fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables can enhance your well being and your enjoyment of summer.
  • Drink lots of water, and spend time with your feet in the water, to balance the heat of summer and prevent many common summer ailments.

Did you know that Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat.... Acne & Skin Rashes; Attention Deficit Disorder; Anxiety, Depression & Stress; Constipation; Headaches & Migraines; High Blood Pressure; Hot Flashes & Menopausal Symptoms; Insomnia; Low Energy; Sports Injuries; Urinary Tract Infections & more.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

"He who conquers others is strong; He who conquers himself is mighty."

Lao-Tzu

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - April 2005 | Issue 6



In this issue you will find: Important April Dates
  • April 27 - New Student Orientation

  • April 30 - World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day

  • May 2 - Spring 2005 Semester Begins

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World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day

World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day is celebrated by groups from over 80 countries around the world that gather at 10 a.m. (local time) on this day to exhibit Tai Chi and Qi Gong.

Tai Chi is believed to: boost the immune system, slow the aging process, lower blood pressure, reduce the incidence of anxiety, depression, fatigue and overall mood disturbances, minimize the effects of chronic conditions such as allergies and asthma, improve breathing capacity, and be the most effective balance and coordination conditioner in the world. Tai Chi has also been recommended as an adjunct therapy for chronic pain, AIDS, arthritis, insomnia, asthma, high blood pressure, Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and psychosomatic illnesses. According to the National Institutes of Health, 70 percent of all illness is due to unmanaged stress. Because mind/body therapies can treat or prevent these illnesses, the integration of tools such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong into our health institutions could save the U.S. $700 billion per year, and save trillions per year worldwide.

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Acupuncture: An Effective Treatment For Allergies

Your throat is swollen, and your nose is itchy and runny.  Your eyes are teary, and you just sneezed on the person sitting next to you.  Spring has sprung and so have your allergies. 

Millions of Americans share your agony, and about one person in 90 suffers from allergies. Treatments can produce harsh side effects that leave allergy sufferers less congested and itchy, but just as miserable.  Luckily, acupuncture and Oriental medicine provide effective alternatives that impose no discomforts such as sinus headache, fatigue and dryness of the nose and throat.  

Termed allergic rhinitis, seasonal chronic inflammation of the nose, throat, and sinuses occurs when the body's immune system is hypersensitive to specific non-infectious particles. This itchy, miserable process, called atopy , involves various airborne allergens or other triggers that unleash a flood of activity in the immune system.  This leads to inflammation and hyper-reactivity in the airways, hence the mucous and respiratory symptoms. Allergies can develop in anyone, but genetic factors play the largest role.  Allergic rhinitis (seasonal or perennial) can be consistent or go into remission and disappear completely.  It is likely that if you develop allergies after the age of 20, you will continue to have them in the future. 

Ragweed, affecting about 75% of allergy sufferers, is the most significant cause of allergic rhinitis in the US . Ragweed is found all over North America, and its effects are first felt in middle to late August and last until the beginning of winter.  Other allergy producers include grasses, which affect people mid-May to late June, mold spores that grow on dead leaves and are common allergens throughout the spring, summer and fall and tree pollen . Small pollen grains from certain trees produce symptoms in late March and early April.

With all these allergy-creating pollens, our natural reaction is to run indoors.  However, we are not always safe there. Allergens in the house cause perennial rhinitis (year-long allergic rhinitis).  Household allergens may include the following: house dust and mites, cockroaches, pet dander, molds growing on wall paper, house plants, carpeting, and upholstery.  Researchers are investigating other possible triggers of perennial rhinitis: air pollutants such as diesel exhaust particles, bacteria (one study suggested that the allergic condition may lead to higher bacterial levels, which in turn may aggravate allergies) and certain chemicals such as refined fossil fuels.

Usual treatments for allergies include antihistamine drugs, nasal corticosteroids (commonly called steroids), and Immunotherapy, often referred to as "allergy shots." All drug treatments have side effects and in rare cases can be serious. Standard advice suggests patients should try different drugs until they find one that relieves symptoms without producing distressing side effects, minimize outdoor activity during peak pollen times (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.), shower twice a day, wear a protective mask and keep car and house windows shut.  While this may work for some, others may find allergy symptoms inconvenient enough without having to hide inside, not breathe fresh air or enjoy the first peeks of spring sunshine.

The World Health Organization's 2002 study shows acupuncture to be an effective treatment for allergic rhinitis.  Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) believe that attending to the causes of allergies, treating the whole person, and focusing on balance of the immune system leads to significant long-term allergy management.  Year after year they continue to see the benefit of acupuncture for their patients.  Lily Chang, a faculty member at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine who treats allergy and asthma, among many other health issues, believes Chinese medicine has unique benefits. 

"Most of the time [acupuncture] is very effective because we treat the root of the illness," says Chang. "It depends on different situations, but in many cases, Eastern methods alone work really well."

For many, this can mean the end of struggles with the heavy effects of allergy medications. Modern scientific explanation for effectiveness is that acupuncture for allergy symptoms stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the body, which influence its own internal regulating system. The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body's natural healing abilities. It can help to strengthen resistance and can regulate the body's antigen-antibody reactions. This is important in helping to relieve hay fever and other allergic reactions such as sinus headache, fatigue and asthma.

Acupuncture treatment varies from patient to patient but is relatively convenient and painless.  Acupuncture for allergy symptoms is a fantastic alternative for people who react poorly to medications.  Patients often experience some relief during the first visit. Nasal congestion, discharge, and itching are usually relieved during the first acupuncture treatment. Up to six treatments may be needed to give lasting relief of hay fever symptoms such as sinus headache, fatigue and sneezing. Some patients return for a series of six treatments each year just before what used to be their hay fever season. Others remain free from hay fever for years after one course of acupuncture treatment.

"It still depends on the patient's condition and the practitioner's experience," says Chang.  "But I have great success stories from treating allergy patients with acupuncture."  

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Spring Herbal Medicine Chest:

As the beauty of springtime comes into bloom, so can hay fever, hives and allergic reactions. These herbal remedies can help prevent or lessen the effects of allergies and other springtime woes.

ASTRAGALUS

Technical Name: Astragalus membranaceous, the root of a native Chinese plant

Used For: Chronic or recurrent infections (especially respiratory infections); low resistance to disease, colds and flu (both prevention and treatment); physical effects of stress; lack of vitality; debilitation after sickness or surgery, adjunct treatment for cancer. It boosts the immune system and has antiviral activity.

GARLIC

Technical Name: (Allium sativum) Fresh or dried pieces of the garlic bulb

Used For: Common cold, sore throat, ear infections in children, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fungal or yeast infections, chronic or recurrent infections, low resistance to infection; it is a natural antibiotic and antiviral agent.

QUERCETIN

Technical Name: bioflavonoid from buckwheat and citrus fruits

Used For: Hay fever, hives, allergies (when taken regularly for at least 6 to 8 weeks), itching (stabilizes cells that produce histamine)

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

"The great man is he who does not loose his child's heart."

Mencius --Chinese Confucian philosopher

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - May 2005 | Issue 7



In this issue you will find: Important April Dates
  • May 8-14 - Women's Health Week

  • May 18 - Chicago Open House (Massage)

  • May 25 - Senior Health & Fitness Day

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Turning to Chinese Medicine for Mental Health Month

An estimated 1 in 5 adults suffer from a mental health disorder in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Approximately 18.8 million adults suffer from depression alone, and major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. U p to one-half of all visits to primary care physicians are due to conditions that are caused or exacerbated by mental or emotional problems. With so many Americans suffering from mental health disorders, the FDA estimates that sales of antidepressant drugs, such as Prozac and Zoloft, increased from 14 million prescriptions in 1992 to 157 million in 2002. However, in a study of 2,318 patients conducted by the University of Colorado , only 20 percent of the patients taking these drugs were found to improve as a result. Furthermore, studies show that these drugs may even increase the risk of suicide rather than decrease it.

According to recent studies, acupuncture may be a valuable adjunct therapy for those suffering from mental health disorders. A study conducted at the University of Arizona examined the responses of 34 depressed women to acupuncture, generalized acupuncture that didn't use specific points, and no treatment at all. Of the women who received acupuncture specifically for depression, 43 percent experienced a reduction in their symptoms, compared with 22 percent who received general acupuncture and 14 percent who received no treatment. After eight weeks, over half of the women who received specific acupuncture were no longer depressed.

Acupuncture and massage provide safe, effective alternatives to controversial antidepressants. According to Chinese medical practitioners, Qi, or energy, is conducted between the surface of the body and internal organs along pathways called meridians. It is Qi that regulates spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance. When the flow of Qi is disrupted through poor health habits or other circumstances, disease can result. Acupuncture and massage keep the flow of this energy unblocked, and because Chinese medical practitioners treat patients as individuals, they consequently treat the true source of the depression instead of just prescribing pills.

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Basic Self-Care for Gynecological Health: A Guide for Women Clients
By: Misha Cohen, OMD, L.Ac.

To maintain a healthy reproductive system -- balanced and free of disease -- you must tend to the mind, body and spirit. The following tips on Chinese medicine practices will help you stay in harmony:

Tune into your cycle

Keep a daily log of information on your cycle and associated physical and emotional responses. Make these notations every day for at least 6 months. If you have a well-balanced cycle, it will help alert you to the development of any disharmonies. And if you are currently working to remedy an imbalance, it will alert you to triggers and help you track improvements.

The monthly log should include information on:

•  Food cravings or times when you lose your appetite for specific foods (or food in general)

•  Information on alcohol and caffeine consumption

•  Energy levels and ability to exercise. Make note of times when sore breasts, overall heaviness or bloating, depression or fatigue make it difficult to exercise.

•  Emotional ups and downs. Note times when you are irritable, cry or feel like crying, are angry or depressed. Also make note of times when your emotions are positive.

•  Physical symptoms you suspect are associated with your cycle: headaches, blood sugar problems, insomnia, swollen ankles, tender breasts, swollen abdomen, cramps, acne, lower back pain

•  Information about the quality of your period itself -- date of ovulation and feelings surrounding it; date of onset and description of quality of flow, color, texture, intensity, duration.

A review of this information over the course of several months should reveal a correlation between monthly cycle, diet, exercise, emotions and physical symptoms.

This information indicates how you can control or eliminate some of the troubling symptoms associated with your cycle. You'll see which times of the month you should, for example, be particularly vigilant about exercising, avoiding stress, or avoiding foods that exacerbate symptoms

Dietary guidelines

The following are Chinese nutritional principles that promote gynecological health:

•  Eat a diet of warm, cooked foods. Be particularly careful not to eat cold, raw foods during your period -- it only increases cramping and discomfort. This practice can avoid the development of Cold Uterus.

•  Avoid excess dairy products to decrease dampness and strengthen Spleen Qi.

•  Eliminate caffeine and drink a minimal amount of alcohol. (Alcohol increases PMS symptoms and is linked to increased breast cancer risk.) Artificial stimulants of all kinds amplify gynecological disharmonies causing liver Qi stagnation and liver and heart fire.

•  Eat a low-fat diet. Excess body fat increases estrogen production and can lead to various gynecological problems. A fatty diet can also increase Qi stagnation and dampness, which is associated with depression and lack of energy.

•  Increase fiber and grain in diet to avoid premenstrual constipation.

•  Eliminate excess salt from diet to ease water retention.

•  Eliminate any foods that your daily log reveals as associated with PMS, cramps, irregularity or any of the emotional and physical symptoms surrounding the progress of your cycle.

Exercise

To regulate and move Qi and Xue so they flow smoothly, avoid excessive aerobic activities. If you're trying to reestablish a regular, symptom-free cycle, use yoga, Qi gong and walking to stimulate balanced flow. Once a routine is established (daily for 30 minutes), you can expand your exercises to include aerobics such as jogging, cycling and swimming. Exercising five times a week, 45 minutes a day, will strengthen Qi -- but you should avoid exercise to the point of exhaustion or you will deplete your Qi. Your total exercise time should be about seven hours and 15 minutes per week, including the yoga and/or Qi Gong and aerobics.

If you have any gynecological disharmony, weight lifting exercises should be done only three days a week. The process of tearing down and building up muscle tissue can cause Spleen deficiency, which could lead to a Xue deficiency and increased menstrual problems.

Meditate

Stress is both a trigger and a result of gynecological problems. Meditation can alleviate the stress and diminish associated symptoms, such as premenstrual depression and anxiety.

Self-massage for preventive care

Qi Gong abdominal massage is effective while you are having cramps and, when used regularly throughout the month, it can dispel stagnation and dampness, relieving PMS and dysmenorrhea. You may use Cinnamon and Ginger infused almond oil to warm the abdomen while doing the self-massage. Reflexology on the hands and feet -- particularly on the points for the abdomen, womb, uterus, lower back and brain -- is also beneficial. Acupressure on Liver 3 is recommended.

Perform a monthly breast self-exam. All women over 20 years old should examine their breasts once a month for changes in texture, shape, color of skin and evidence of discharge from the nipples. To examine the breasts effectively, the American Cancer Society suggests you examine first one side of the breast, then the other, while lying slightly to the opposite side so that the breast is distended downward. Then lie flat on the back and repeat examination of center and front. Make sure you examine the area around and in your armpit as well.

Nutritional supplements

For all women a daily supplement program should include:

•  Essential fatty acids, such as linseed oil and evening primrose oil

•  Antioxidants, such as beta carotene and vitamin E

•  1 gram of vitamin C per day

•  Calcium hydroxyapatite (from organic beef bones, if possible)

•  Chelated magnesium -- in pill form with calcium for balanced dosage, if possible

•  Daily dose of acidophilus to protect against yeast infections and keep digestive tract healthy.

Adapted from The Chinese Way to Healing: Many Paths to Wholeness ,
by Misha Ruth Cohen, OMD, L.Ac. with Kalia Doner

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The Healing Properties of Geranium Oil

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) oil is effective in treating menstrual disorders, endometriosis, menopausal complaints, and serves as a great nerve tonic. This oil can also help an ailing patient cope with the mental, physical and emotional challenges of dealing with serious illness, as it brings about emotional balance and humor.

Geranium's antidepressant properties promote positive thought patterns that bring on a feeling of calm, strength and security.  It is great when suffering from nervous exhaustion due to stress and being overworked.

Geranium essential oil is safe and gentle to use. It's revitalizing effect on the skin makes it a good choice for all skin types and skin conditions.  Use for acne, aging skin, bruises, cellulite, eczema, psoriasis, shingles and hemorrhoids. Perfect added to your favorite massage oil for its skin regenerative abilities and its emotional benefits.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

"He who knows enough is enough will always have enough."

Lao-Tzu

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - April 2005 | Issue 5



In this issue you will find: Important April Dates
  • April 7 - World Health Day
  • April 13 - Chicago Open House (MTOM)
  • April 30 - World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day

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Hospitals Increase CAM Services

More Americans are finding relief through alternative forms of health care. Hospitals have increasingly expanded programs in order to attract this patient base as well as to optimize care options. CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) inpatient programs nearly doubled between 1998 and 2001, as attitudes and perceptions toward alternative medicine change. The Journal of the American Medical Association states that 42 percent of U.S. adults receive at least one of sixteen alternative therapies surveyed.

Americans spend $13.7 billion annually on CAM products and services, making it an attractive market for many struggling hospitals. In a 2002 Health Forum report, most hospitals cited patient demand as the number one reason for implementing CAM programs. Other reasons included clinical effectiveness, reflection of the organizational mission and competition with other hospitals. By offering a wider range of treatment choices to patients, hospitals may gain a competitive edge.

Physician resistance is the number one reason why hospitals do not opt for CAM services, a trend that is likely to change, as 60 percent of medical schools now offer CAM courses, and efforts by schools such as Pacific College of Oriental Medicine are making strides to expand knowledge of traditional medicine.

Three quarters of hospitals offering CAM services reported program start up costs as less than $200,000, according to AHA's Annual Survey . Numerous services are offered with such minimal costs. These include, but are not limited to: acupuncture, acupressure, massage therapy, pastoral care, herbal medicine, reflexology and biofeedback.

Hospitals will continue to begin CAM programs as they review new research that validates efficacy, educate physicians and hire licensed professionals.

Pacific College has CAM programs in several off-site locations such as Sharp Hospital , Children's Hospital, San Diego Hospice, St. John's Riverside Hospital , Jamaica Hospital, Hospital of Joint Diseases , as well as several other prominent clinics. Pacific College is invested in continuing to expand our offering of CAM services and programs, as we continue to grow.

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Anti-Cholesterol Herbs

There are over 50 million Americans with high cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer's disease. Cholesterol is a fatty substance necessary for hormone production and insulating nerve fibers. When there is too much cholesterol, it builds up on the arterial wall, causing narrowing of the arteries and impeded blood flow. "Bad," or LDL, cholesterol represents cholesterol moving through the body. Elevated levels of LDL increase the risk of heart disease. "Good," or HDL, cholesterol protects against heart disease as it measures cholesterol being cleared from the body. Triglycerides are also associated with a risk of heart disease and diabetes. It is ideal to keep triglyceride levels below 150 mg/dL; total cholesterol below 200; LDL below 130; and HDL above 40.

Although drugs can be used to lower cholesterol, side-effects are common and include digestive complaints; dizziness; headaches; rashes; and muscle and liver damage. Exercise and diet recommendations are extremely important in treating high cholesterol. We also recommend that patients with high cholesterol have a daily stress reduction and exercise program. This is believed to be protective against heart disease, and has many other health benefits, such as lowering high blood pressure and diabetes risk.

Dietary Recommendations
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. These contain fiber and antioxidants. Soluble fiber has been shown to reduce LDL and total cholesterol if you consume five grams to 10 grams daily. Good sources of soluble fiber include beans; lentils; oats; barley; apples; citrus fruits; pears; brussels sprouts; carrots; and flaxseed. If you are not allergic to soy products, they also reduce cholesterol levels. It is also important to avoid trans fats, which are found in many margarine and processed foods, such as vegetable shortening, hydrogenated fats or partially hydrogenated fats. Similarly, refined carbohydrates, such as those found in cookies; cakes; crackers; chips; and sodas should be avoided, as they can increase triglycerides and may lower HDL cholesterol. Dairy products are not advised, as they contain saturated fat. All meat and poultry consumed should be lean.

Must You Avoid All Fat?
Olive oil has been found to lower LDL cholesterol. Extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants that protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, an early step in plaque formation. Fish oil and flax oil also appear to protect the heart, and may support normal cholesterol levels. Fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines, can be eaten as much as desired. The dosage of flax is one to three tablespoons per day in the form of freshly ground seeds or oil, which can be used as a salad dressing or cooked vegetable garnish. Finally, moderate intake of nuts may also protect against heart disease, high triglycerides and cholesterol levels. A handful of almonds, walnuts or cashews are recommended.

Gugulipid
Gugulipid is derived from a species of myrrh called commiphora mukul . This plant is traditionally used to treat obesity and fat obstruction. This has led scientists to study gum guggul and its extracts in order to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, and to aid in weight loss. In scientific studies, gugulipid has been shown to lower bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and raise beneficial HDL cholesterol.

Policosanol
Policosanol is a plant product derived from rice bran or sugar cane that has been demonstrated in multiple clinical studies to safely reduce LDL ("bad") cholesterol while significantly raising HDL ("good") cholesterol. In addition, it can be used to improve pain-free walking distance for people with intermittent claudication (hardening of the arteries). Policosanol is comprised of the long chain fatty acids octacosanol; hexacosanol; tricontanol; tetracosanol; and dotricontanol.

Herbal Formulas
One very successful formula incorporates garlic ( da suan ); astragalus ( huang qi ); polygonum ( he shou wu ); red ganoderma ( ling zhi ); cratageus ( shan zha ); angelica ( dang gui ); salvia ( dan shen ) and white atractylodes ( bai zhu ). It is used primarily to treat and prevent hyperlipidemia, atherosclerosis and degenerative disorders of the cardiovascular system. In China , much research has been conducted on the circulatory system.

The main ingredient in this formula is garlic, which has been found to have vasodilatation effects on peripheral blood vessels, as well as anti-atherosclerosis and anti-hypertensive effects. In a study in which 800 mg per day of garlic in pill form were administered, 261 patients showed a 12 percent reduction in cholesterol, compared with a 3 percent reduction in a control group taking a placebo. It should be mentioned that the garlic has been concentrated and prepared so that it does not cause breath odor.

Astragalus is known to tonify qi and stabilize the exterior. Animal experiments have shown a decoction of astragalus injected intravenously to have a strong blood-pressure-lowering effect through vasodilatation, and an increase in cardiac output.

Research on he shou wu has found this herb to possess properties that lower blood cholesterol levels. In vitro studies of filtered decoctions of he shou wu have shown sedimentation to occur when cholesterol was added to the decoction. Experimental animals fed high cholesterol diets, then given preparations of he shou wu, showed decreased levels of fibrous plaque formations as opposed to control group animals. In a clinical trial composed of 86 patients whose overall serum cholesterol level was 295, a he shou wu preparation was administered for two months, resulting in an average drop of 38.2 mg. There were no side-effects.

Ganoderma is known to have immune enhancing effects. Research has found it to also posses certain effects on the circulatory system, primarily in treating angina and other accompanying symptoms of coronary heart disease. Its anti-cholesterol activity is still being investigated.

Crataegus is known in Chinese medicine for removing food stagnation. It has also been shown to have anti-cholesterol properties. In a clinical trial of 20 patients whose average cholesterol level was 252.2 mg, crataegus was administered daily for six weeks. All patients showed a decline in cholesterol levels, with the average decrease for the entire group being 46.2 mg. Other research has found crataegus leaves and flowers to possess anti-hypertensive properties.

Angelica is a strong tonifier of blood. It also reduces blood pressure effectively. In animal studies angelica preparations, including decoctions and tinctures, reduced blood pressure. Other animal studies have found that angelica may protect blood vessel walls against plaque adhesion.

Salvia activates blood and removes blood stasis. In a clinical trial, 34 patients were treated for thromboangitis obliterans using powdered salvia soaked in wine, for 15 days. Fifteen patients experienced complete relief from their symptoms; nine showed marked improvement; three showed some improvement; and seven patients experienced no changes in symptoms. Most patients remarked that after taking the salvia wine, their pain was alleviated and they had sensations of heat spreading (or even rushing) into their extremities. Most individuals did not experience side-effects, although a few suffered itching of the skin. In another clinical trial of 323 patients who had coronary heart disease, salvia tablets (20 mg of herb each) were administered orally for 10 months. About 80 percent of these patients experienced complete relief from their angina.

The final herb in the formula is white atractylodes. In Chinese medicine, it is known to tonify the Spleen/Stomach and dry dampness. Research has shown white atractylodes to possess anticoagulative properties. Healthy volunteers who took one tablespoon of a 1:20 solution of atractylodes decoction, three times daily for four days, showed an increase in prothrombin time. This returned to normal 10 days after administration was stopped.

Conclusion
While the garlic formula and the gugulipid/policosanol combination are effective at reducing cholesterol levels, it is important that they be combined with a stress reduction and exercise program, and a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. The usual dosage of the gugulipid/policosanol combination is one to two tablets a day before meals, however, for a stronger effect, two tablets twice per day before meals is recommended. The average dose of the garlic formula is three tablets three times per day, before or between meals. For relatively healthy individuals with high cholesterol, the gugulipid/policosanol formula may be the best choice. For individuals suffering from degeneration of the cardiovascular system, the garlic formula or a combination of garlic formula with the gugulipid/policosanol compound may prove to work best. Clinical experience has revealed that these preparations, if used correctly, are compatible with pharmaceutical drugs. However, any reduction in medication should be supervised by the patient's physician.

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Top Foods For Allergies

Springtime is near and, unfortunately, this time of year brings a lot of misery to people in the form of red, watery eyes, runny noses, and sneezing. Pollen levels increase and, thus, increase allergic symptoms.

One way to help decrease the severity of your allergies is to boost your immunity with immune-enhancing foods. These foods will have high levels of vitamin C, magnesium, beta-carotene, and quercetin

Vitamin C -- has been shown to decrease production of histamine, thus reducing an immediate allergic episode. It is a natural antihistamine. It helps relieve allergic symptoms and prevents inflammatory reactions. 

Helpful foods include: Green and red peppers, strawberries, kiwi, oranges, potatoes,

Beta-Carotene -- when converted to Vitamin A, it helps boost immunity and keeps the respiratory system working optimally. It also is a powerful antioxidant.

Helpful foods include: Sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, winter squash, collard greens

Magnesium -- may reduce constricted airways in asthma by relaxing the muscles around the bronchial tubes. It can buffer the acidic stage of an allergic reaction. Some think a deficiency in magnesium can release histamine.

Helpful foods include: Almonds, spinach, avocados, oysters, seeds, peanuts, buckwheat

Quercetin -- rich in bioflavonoids. It can reduce allergic reactions by having an antihistamine effect. It also decreases inflammation

Helpful foods include: Apples, cranberries, grapefruit, grapes, pears, spinach, cabbage

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

"He who knows others is wise; He who knows himself is enlightened."

Lao-Tzu