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
-- TOP -- 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.
-- TOP -- 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
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.
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.
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.
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
-- TOP -- 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.
-- TOP --
Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day
"He who knows enough is enough will always have enough."
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
-- TOP --
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.
-- TOP --
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.
Must You Avoid All Fat?
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
-- TOP --
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
-- TOP --
Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day
"He who knows others is wise; He who knows himself is enlightened."