Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - September 2009 | Issue 66
In this issue you will find:
Important PCOM Dates:
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NCCAM Releases Report on Increased Spending on CAM
Recent studies conducted by the federally funded National Health Statistics Report have revealed that Americans spend up to 34 billion dollars per year on complementary alternative medicine (CAM). The first national estimate of such spending discovered that more than one tenth of American’s out of pocket health care dollars goes towards CAM. The term CAM encompasses Oriental medicine, Asian body therapy, herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, and other variations of Oriental medicine. According to new research, CAM accounts for approximately 1.5 percent of total health care expenditures.
Currently in the United States, about 38 percent of adults are using CAM for health and to treat a variety of issues. Most commonly, this report shows that people actively seek out acupuncture and massage to manage chronic pain. Of the 34 billion dollars people spent for CAM services, an estimated 22 billion dollars was spent on self-care costs such as herbs and nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products like fish oil and Echinacea.
The new survey results focus on how often Americans use these things, and how much they pay for them. The numbers show that alternative medicine accounts for more than 11 percent of out-of-pocket spending on health care in the United States. Visits to acupuncturists, massage therapists, and chiropractors was attributed to more than half of the money spent on self-care – about 11.9 billion dollars. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine’s three clinics (located in San Diego, New York, and Chicago) have seen a rise in patients.
It is not clear whether the recent exponential rise in the public’s interest and use of alternative medicine has any relation to the current economy, but speculators believe it could. The data, gathered in 2007 mostly before the recession was evident, don't clearly reflect whether the economy played a role in spending on these therapies.
Dr. Josephine Briggs, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the federal agency that leads research in this field, noted there has been "speculation that as the number of uninsured grows, there may be increased utilization of some of these approaches, which tend to be relatively inexpensive."
More research into which therapies work is critically needed, because the spending on them is "substantial," Briggs said. Many people are speaking out about the success they have had with various CAM practices. Dianne Shaw, a media relations worker at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, sees value in acupuncture. She says acupuncture helped her recover from a stroke-like facial nerve paralysis that standard drugs didn't remedy.
With the low cost of alternative medicine combined with the progressive concept of preventative health care (ensuring one’s wellbeing now is a safeguard to future medical expenses), as well as the increasing number of uninsured individuals, Complementary and alternative medicine has never made more sense and been more accessible to the public as it is now.
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine clinics offer a wide range of complementary and alternative medicine services. Some of these include acupuncture, moxibustion, tui na massage, Chinese cupping, and herbal remedies. A myriad of disorders and conditions can be treated with these modalities. Acupuncture alone can help chronic pain, insomnia, migraines, sports injury recovery, and even anxiety and depression, as well as many other ailments. Each of these treatments can be received individually or in conjunction with Western treatment.
-- Top -- Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, Chicago Offers New Program
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, Chicago is launching its newly accredited program, the Massage Therapy/Asian Bodywork Certificate. This Certificate demonstrates a significant increase in training to clients and prospective employers. Pacific College’s Chicago program teaches traditional massage skills with an emphasis on Oriental medicine theory, tui na, and the development of the students’ ability to synthesize the causes, symptoms, and treatments of disease.
The Massage Therapy/ Asian Bodywork Certificate requires a minimum of 600 hours and 33.5 academic credits. The state of Illinois requires 500 hours of training for licensure, so Pacific College students will be aptly prepared to enter the field of massage. This program may be completed in three 4-month terms, or one calendar year. It will prepare students for certification by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). Successful passage of the NCBTMB’s National Certification Exam is required for licensure and necessary for entry-level bodywork opportunities. Graduates may also be eligible, depending on their choice of electives, for membership to the American Organization of Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA). Federal financial assistance is available to those who qualify. Two $500 scholarships for Fall-2009 are on offer for those who are eligible.
Massage is an ancient form of hands-on healing that includes Western styles such as deep tissue and circulatory techniques, and Eastern bodywork forms like tui na and shiatsu. Studies show that touch can simultaneously ease pain, lessen anxiety, promote healing and hope, and help one to take the obstacles in life in stride. An instantly decreased heart rate and lowered blood pressure are just two of the physical benefits of touch. Psychologically, touch relaxes the mind as well as the body. A practitioner may use massage as the sole modality of a pracitice, or as an accompaniment to acupuncture and other Oriental healing methods.
This certificate program will train each graduate to customize each massage session to his or her client’s specific needs, which is critical in providing ideal body therapy. Asian Bodywork Therapy has grown into a recognized specialty supported by the American Organization of Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA) and certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).
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A Holistic Approach to Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's disease is caused by the death of dopamine-producing brain cells that control movement. The second most common neurodegenerative disorder in America (after Alzheimer's), Parkinson's affects about one percent of all people over the age of 50.
The holistic approach to treating this disease combines nutrition, environment, emotions, and spirituality. These include an array of mind-body techniques like meditation, biofeedback, Reiki, and spiritual healing, as well as traditional Eastern remedies like herbal therapy, homeopathy and Ayurvedic medicine. Yoga, Tai ji, and a variety of vitamin, enzyme and other natural supplements have also been proposed. Some of these therapies are described below:
Ayurvedic medicine -- Practiced in India for thousands of years, Ayurvedic medicine relies and focuses on maintaining health through the body, spirit, and mind. It begins by establishing one’s metabolic type, then examining other factors such as a person’s environment. Treatment consists of detoxification, restoring the balance to the body through palliation, and finally, tonification.
Yoga --A complement to Ayurvedic medicine, Hatha yoga, which involves performing a series of poses and breathing awareness, has been shown to help with motor-skills symptoms of Parkinson's disease when practiced on a regular basis.
Acupuncture --Based on achieving a yin-yang balance in the body, acupuncture may help return this harmonic balance by inserting fine needles into certain points on the body.
Massage therapy --Therapies like reflexology and therapeutic massage can help sufferers of Parkinson's by keeping joints and muscles supple. Most commonly used massage therapies that may alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms are shiatsu and acupressure, which is a touch-based therapy along certain pressure points on the body.
Tai-ji --An ancient Chinese healing therapy, tai-ji is based on slow movements or exercises that may help Parkinson's sufferers keep their joints and muscles supple.
Exercising regularly boosts both oxygen and blood sugar levels to the brain. All it takes is a daily 20-minute walk. In fact, it has been observed that regular exercise can actually slow the progress of Parkinson’s disease, the same seems to hold true for deep R.E.M. sleep.
A detailed discussion of the various therapies can be found in the book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Parkinson’s Disease: A holistic Program for Optimal Wellness by Jill Marjama-Lyons, MD and Mary Shomon.
Feeding the Body
In terms of general nutrition, recent research has shown that people with Parkinson's disease respond better to treatment when placed on a high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet. This would include whole grains, fresh vegetables, beans, and fruit, as well as occasional low-fat animal foods, like fish. Eating healthier gives your body the vitamins, minerals, trace elements, essential fatty acids, and proteins it needs. It’s important to adopt a diet that ensures your brain is nourished with high levels of oxygen and glucose. This means you should eat foods extremely low in fat and rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. A high fat diet reduces oxygen levels to your brain, so it functions at less than optimum levels. The same is true when glucose levels drop. A diet rich in complex carbohydrates (eating whole grains, vegetables, and fruit) helps ensure optimal blood sugar levels.
Taking the nutritional approach one step further, food rich in antioxidants, Omega 3 and CoQ10 seem to slow down Parkinson’s. Some alternative health practitioners feel that free radicals (damaging molecules such as heavy metals, organic solvent chemicals and other unstable molecules) created in the body may contribute to brain cell death/degeneration and ultimately lead to Parkinson's disease.
Finally, some believe that a person’s structural misalignments (caused by accidents, poor posture, etc.) in the upper back and neck can sap energy flow to brain cells and accelerate the effects of free-radical damage.
-- Top -- Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day
A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers.
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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - July 2009 | Issue 64
In this issue you will find:
Important PCOM Dates:
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Pacific College Contributes to Annual National Stand-Down for Homeless Veterans
The National Stand-Down for Homeless Veterans is an annual event that honors and seeks to physically and emotionally help homeless veterans. Each summer in San Diego, acupuncturist Mitch Lehman directs and organizes the National Stand-Down for homeless veterans, held by Integrated Medicine Services. This year’s Stand-Down will be held from the 17th through the 19th of July.
“For veterans, Stand-Down is a place where someone has their back and they can rest and recuperate. Life on the streets is much like a battleground,” said Darcy Pavich, Stand Down Coordinator. “For three days we provide a place where our homeless brothers and sisters can access resources to change their lives, maybe even to save their lives, “ said Pavich.
During times of war the term “Stand-Down” refers to the time of rest and recovery that exhausted combat units require before re-entering the fray. Today, Stand-Down refers to a grassroots, community-based intervention program designed to help the nation’s estimated 275,000 homeless veterans to “combat” life on the streets. Each year, hundreds of homeless veterans attend Stand-Down.
While food and safety are at the top of the list, these resources also include medical care, legal services, substance abuse recovery programs, employment services, spiritual care, dental and chiropractic services, and even reiki and hypnotherapy. Professionals in each field provide these complimentary services. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, San Diego has participated in Stand-Down for nine years, and this summer, 2009, PCOM will contribute an estimated 30 student and supervising practitioner volunteers per day to perform acupuncture and massage for the veterans.
Acupuncture and massage are ideal for this kind of event because they are highly mobile practices that don’t require heavy or expensive equipment, and they also provide immediate relief for many conditions. Acupuncture has been used to treat (or relieve the pain of) dozens of ailments. The National Institute of Health (NIH) recognizes its usefulness in treating addiction, fibromyalgia, headaches, cramps, back pain, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel, asthma, and more. This is a unique opportunity for PCOM volunteers to show compassion while simultaneously demonstrating their professional skills and spread awareness of the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine.
-- Top -- The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Expectant Mothers
In addition to the excitement of pregnancy, expectant women are exposed to numerous physical discomforts as well as emotional highs and lows. During the nine months of pregnancy, women can deal with hormone changes, weight increase, joint and back strain, and headaches. While common, these pains don’t need to be persistent. With the help of Oriental medicine and Asian body therapy, many of the aches of pregnancy can be alleviated with the use of massage. Additionally, massage can help to soothe women emotionally and relieve stress.
Prenatal massage can address a wide variety of issues from backaches and headaches to pelvic and hip pain, which is often caused by the body’s increasing or shifting weight. Massage can increase blood circulation, reduce fatigue, improve skin elasticity to reduce stretch marks, and by reducing anxiety, a massage can even stabilize hormone levels. The gentle kneading of massage can also reduce swelling, especially in the feet, a place where the swelling impacts the daily routine of the expectant mother by inhibiting walking and often making movement painful.
Touch is a powerful tool to relieve pain and provide comfort. At a time when women may feel baffled or frustrated with their bodily changes and discomforts, massage brings the body into focus in a positive way. It can improve mental and physical wellbeing by providing a pleasurable experience in otherwise uncomfortable areas of the body. In a study conducted by the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 26 pregnant women were assigned to a massage therapy or a relaxation therapy group for five weeks. Both groups reported feeling less anxious after the first session and less leg pain after the first and last session. Only the massage therapy group, however, reported reduced anxiety, improved mood, better sleep and less back pain by the last day of the study. A different study that was conducted by the Touch Research Institute in Miami, Florida found that massage has further positive effects on pregnant women, both during pregnancy and labor. One study showed lower levels of stress hormones in massaged pregnant women, as well as fewer complications during and right after labor. Massage of the feet during pregnancy has been shown to increase movement of the fetus.
The World Massage Forum states “Touch is vital to the mother's physical and emotional well-being as she adapts to her new body image.” Women undergo bodily changes not only during pregnancy, but post-labor, meaning that massage can be continued after birth to improve womens’ recovery and health. In a different study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 28 women were recruited from pre-natal classes and randomly assigned to receive massage in addition to breathing coaching from their partners during labor, or to receive coaching in breathing alone. The massaged mothers reported a decrease in depressed mood, anxiety and pain, and showed less agitated activity and anxiety and more positive affect following the first massage during labor. In addition, the massaged mothers reported shorter labors, a shorter hospital stay, and less postpartum depression.
The Touch Research Institute conducted a study on massage therapy benefits for depressed pregnant women. Eighty-four depressed expectant mothers participated in the study. Each was randomly assigned to a massage group, a muscle-relaxation group, or a standard-care control group. There was also a control group of 28 non-depressed pregnant women. The study lasted for 16 weeks, and consistently measured the womens’ anxiety, depressed mood, and leg and back pain. The outcome of the study revealed that women in the massage group had the highest increased levels of serotonin and dopamine (uplifting their spirits), and significantly decreased levels of cortisol and norepinephrine (stress hormones) by the end of the study. Women in the other groups showed no significant changes in any of these levels. The massage group had the greatest decrease in depression on the last day of the test compared to the first day, as well as improvement in mood and decreased anxiety.
Massage, therefore, is highly beneficial to expectant mothers not only physically but emotionally and mentally. The reposeful experience of a massage can provide the relief of pain and swelling that is intertwined with the reduction of worry and anxiety that is so prevalent during pregnancy. Massage encompasses the ideology of Oriental medicine, the melding of the body, mind, and spirit, because it simultaneously nourishes all three.
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Using Acupressure to Relieve Pain and Anxiety
The ancient Chinese healing art of acupressure is similar to acupuncture, but instead of needles, the technique uses finger pressure on various points along the body. Like acupuncture, applying pressure on specific points of the body draws on the body's natural abilities to cure itself. The pressure promotes blood flow, releases muscular tension, and engages the body's own life force to soothe and heal. Acupressure can relieve tension, aches and pains, arthritis, even menstrual cramps. It can also help relieve the symptoms of insomnia, depression, toothache, dizziness, digestive disorders, nausea, morning, and motion sickness.
According to University of California, Irvine anesthesiologists, an acupressure massage applied to children undergoing anesthesia may help lower their anxiety levels, reducing the stress of surgery. The sedatives currently used before anesthesia can cause nausea and prolong sedation. Acupressure has no such side effects. In a recent study, adhesive acupressure beads were applied to 52 children between the ages of eight and 17 who were scheduled to undergo endoscopic stomach surgery. In half the children, a bead was applied to the Extra-1 acupoint, which is located in the midpoint between the eyebrows. In the other half, the bead was applied to a spot above the left eyebrow that revealed no reported clinical effects. Half an hour later, researchers noted lowered levels of anxiety in the children who had the beads applied to the Extra-1 acupoint, while anxiety levels rose in the other group.
When correctly administered, acupressure can be effective in treating a number of conditions caused by tension. The good news is that there are no side effects from drugs, and one can practice acupressure therapy any time, anywhere—while sitting, standing or lying down. Acupressure works by accessing and releasing blocked energy centers in the body. The stimulation rids the body of toxic build up that accumulates in muscle tissue. These toxins can cause stiffness in various areas of the body. Stiffness in muscles puts abnormal pressure on nerves, and blood and lymph vessels. The pressure on blood and lymph vessels affects both skeletal systems and internal organ functioning.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has mapped out points of meridian pathways on the human body. These points, mapped out and proven by Western science using electrical devices, carry energy called “qi”. Some points relate to a specific body parts, others are more general. When these points are stimulated by hand and finger massage, they encourage the body to combat illness. Basically, the many pressure points that exist along the meridians act as "valves" for the flow of qi. Acupressure opens these valves to restore the flow of qi and balance the body's natural energy.
Much like a regular massage, acupressure massage uses the finger or thumb, and sometimes a blunt object. Motions are quick and circular and applied with a medium amount of pressure. Massages last between five and 15 minutes. The most often used acupressure techniques involve rubbing, kneading, and vibration using the hands, fingers, knees and elbows. Sometimes even the feet can be used to massage larger areas of the body.
-- Top -- Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day
“It does not matter how slowly you go forward as long as you never stop.”
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