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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - October 2009 | Issue 68


In this issue you will find:

Important PCOM Dates:

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North American Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Day, 2009

In an effort to increase public awareness of the progress, promise, and benefits of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, celebrates North American Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NAAOM) Day in San Diego, New York, and Chicago, with each campus supporting this day in a unique way.

Each campus will celebrate NAAOM day. Pacific College’s Chicago campus will be offering $15 off acupuncture treatments during the week of October 19 – 23 (Monday through Friday). A coupon must be surrendered at time of treatment for offer to be valid.

PCOM’s San Diego campus will be offering ten dollars off of acupuncture treatments during the week of October 19 – 23 (Monday through Friday), with coupon presented at time of treatment.

On Friday, October 23, 2009, Pacific’s New York Campus will be hosting a NAAOM Day celebration from 2:30pm – 7:30pm. The festivities will include free acupuncture treatments for balance and stress, a qi gong workshop, and autumn health and Oriental medicine tips from experts in the field. On that same Friday, the New York campus will also be offering an Information Session from 2:30pm to 4:30pm. This is a great opportunity to learn about careers in the Oriental medicine field and about the degrees offered by Pacific College.

Acupuncture has been used to treat (or relieve the pain of) dozens of ailments. The National Institute of Health recognizes its usefulness in treating addiction, fibromyalgia, headaches, cramps, back pain, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel, asthma, and more. Oriental medicine strives to heal with the idea that the mind is richly integrated with the body, that both must be attended.

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Qi gong and Massage Enhance Body’s Natural Healing

Qigong massage is an ancient Chinese healing method that goes back some 5,000 years. Used to improve health, arrest aging, and treat some illnesses, qi gong massage is the progenitor of many other popular forms of massage therapy.

Like traditional acupressure techniques, qi gong massages uses pressure points and gripping, tapping, and rolling techniques to encourage the flow of qi. This unique combination combines the ancient Chinese practice of qi gong and therapeutic massage. Qi gong is a holistic system of self-healing exercises and meditation, an ancient, evolving practice that includes healing postures, movement, self massage, breathing techniques and meditation. Qi gong means working with the life energy to improve the health and harmony of mind and body.

Early Chinese medicine and Daoist tomes often sought to dovetail massage and qi gong as two powerful self-healing exercises. Qi gong balances the energy of blood and body fluid flow from the inside, and massage strengthens the flow from the outside. Uniting massage and qi gong can be particularly useful for soothing muscle tension, circulation problems, digestive disorders, and psychosomatic disorders.

Massage stimulates blood and fluid flow and qi gong's effects are enhanced once circulation is invigorated. Massage aids the practitioner in guiding circulating the flow of qi. Massage and qi gong can be self administered or applied by a professional. No special equipment or tools are required.

A qi gong based massage may help smooth the flow of blood and qi bioelectricity. It can help remove blockages caused by internal or external influences. In so doing, it can
enhance the body's own natural ability to heal itself. In essence, qi gong based massage consists of what has come to be known as Therapeutic Massage. Qi gong massage basically includes combinations of rubbing, pressing, point striking, pulling and kneading,

Dr. Sun of the Yi Ren Qi Gong School in Seattle once described our muscles and tendons as flour and our qi as water. When we combine the two and first start to knead the dough, we instill jing energy and transfer it into the body. This can improve both health and vigor.

In 2005, a qi gong massage based on Chinese medicine and delivered by a doctor of Chinese medicine improved the sensory impairment and adaptive behavior in a small controlled study of young children with autism. In 2006, a qi gong Sensory Training (QST) program was developed to train early intervention professionals to provide the QST intervention.

Some practitioners use qi gong machines to clear the three energy bodies (electrostatic, magnetic, and mental field waves) surrounding and inside of the body. They claim that these machines clear the nervous system of "noises" in the cellular matrix caused by fear, worry and irritation. These "noises" exhaust us, wear down our resistance to disease, and make us susceptible to colds, flu, and other health problems.
The qi gong machines use 60 Hz sound vibrations to calm and heal all the energy waves emitted in the electromagnetic and mental fields. Used in many Chinese hospitals, these machines are reputed to heal injured bones and muscle tissue, facilitates homeostasis, and instills calmness throughout the entire body.

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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 applying needles to certain points on the body, the technique uses finger pressure on these points. 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 UC 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 8 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 chi. Some points relate to a specific body part, 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.

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

“Forget injuries but never forget a kindness.”

~ Confucius

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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - September 2009 | Issue 67


In this issue you will find:

 

Important PCOM Dates:

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The Role of TCM and Nutrition in Preventative Care

An old Chinese medical proverb says “The best doctor treats the problem before the problem becomes the disease.” Some of the modalities used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) include herbs and medications, acupuncture, massage, and qi gong (coordinating breathing patterns with various physical postures and body motions). TCM has been practiced in Asia for over 4,000 years. To underscore its importance in health care, the ancient Chinese upper class saw doctors only for preventative care; if they became sick, the doctors were not be paid.

A report from a recent survey of more than 23,000 adults nationwide found that more than one-third of adults use alternative medicine. Why are so many Americans spending more on alternative medicine? Some say TCM and other alternative medicines fill a growing need in the current healthcare system. Others insist it's the growing number of uninsured individuals who are opting for less expensive alternatives.

TCM treats recurring symptoms of illness and draws on preventive care to boost one's immunity against illness and disease. TCM's preventive care seeks to maintain the body's balance. In doing so, there are a number of foods you should avoid and several you should consider adding or retaining in a healthy diet. Foods and drinks to avoid under TCM teachings included alcohol, coffee (regular & decaf), cheese, eggs, greasy, fatty, oily foods, red meat, and excessively spicy foods. Instead, TCM recommends you eat more sprouted grains, beans, fresh fruits vegetables, romaine lettuce, cucumber, rhubarb root, mushrooms, plums, tofu, radish, and vinegar.

In general, a nutritional TCM diet consists of warm, cooked foods one can easily digest. This would include cooked vegetables, soups, noodles, rice, stews, and small portions of meat. Opt for whole-wheat grains that are well cooked and easily digested. Try not to overeat in any one meal. The Chinese say you should stop eating when you are 70 percent full. Choose instead to eat smaller meals spaced evenly throughout the day.

Above all, one should make it a point to shop for fresh food. Unlike the fast food choices many teens and young adults in Western societies eat, the Chinese select live seafood, fresh meats, and seasonal fruits and vegetables from the local market to ensure freshness. In other words, rather than freeze dried fish or meat in a can or plastic wrap, the Chinese opt for swimming fish, snappy crabs, and squawking chickens.

Those concerned about bad (LDL) cholesterol in their blood may find these results interesting. A study conducted in Finland showed that eating three apples a day for three months can help drop your cholesterol level by twenty points. The lutin in spinach and other green leafy vegetables may help prevent the buildup of cholesterol. The soluble fiber in whole grain oats can help reduce LDL cholesterol in your system. The orange rind in orange marmalade contains compounds known as polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs), which may lower LDL cholesterol without reducing the good cholesterol your body needs. Finally, there's green tea, which is not only good for a number of ailments, but can help reduce LDL cholesterol.

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The Importance of Probiotics

Bacteria are not all bad. Too often, the term 'bacteria' is related to germs and harmful microorganisms that cause disease. The truth is that the human body is made up of billions of bacteria, without many of which humans would not survive. The term 'probiotics' relates to foods and nutritional supplements that contain these same “good” bacteria found in the body.

It is normally not necessary to supplement with probiotics to stay healthy. Most people have enough of the friendly bacteria in their daily diet. However, for individuals suffering from digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Irregularity, probiotics can be a blessing and a natural alternative to more aggressive treatments such as steroids. Along with being found in nutritional supplements, there are many foods that contain probiotics such as miso, yogurt, fermented and unfermented milk, and various juices and soymilks.

Recently there has been renewed interest in scientific research regarding the effects of probiotic-rich food or probiotic supplements on digestive disorders. The results of recent studies suggest that:

• Probiotics can reduce symptoms of diarrhea, especially when it is caused by taking certain antibiotics
• Probiotics may prevent and treat yeast infections and urinary tract infections (UTI)
• Probiotics may be an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
• Probiotics can minimize the occurrence of bladder cancers
• Probiotics can lessen the severity and duration of intestinal infections
• Probiotics have been shown to reduce inflammation following colon surgery
• Probiotics can be used to treat eczema and asthma in children

There has even been research that would seem to indicate that probiotics could be used to increase general wellness. A 2005 study conducted in Sweden found that a group of employees who took the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri missed work less often due to respiratory or gastrointestinal illness than employees who were not taking the probiotic.

TCM practitioners have intuitively known of the benefits of Probiotics for years, and often combine their use with traditional TCM herbology treatments or modalities such as acupuncture. There is mounting evidence for the use of such complimentary treatments.
A recent study published by two American physicians in the Journal of the American Academy of Asthma and Immunology concluded that administering the Chinese medicinal herbs Gan Cao, Ku Shen, and Ling Zhi, along with probiotics, had a positive effect on asthmatic children.

TCM elixirs made from the herb Dong Quai are another good example of Chinese medicine 's belief in the positive benefits of probiotics. The herb Dong Quai is a member of the celery family. In TCM it is often referred to as “female ginseng” for the effect it has on female hormone imbalances and the relief it offers from PMS and the symptoms related to menopause. For men, Dong Quai also has been shown to support fertility and prostate health. Many commercially available liquid formulas of Dong Quai combine the herb with probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus delbreukii, Saccharomyces boulardii, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae - making it an effective tonic for digestive distress.

Since probiotics normally exist in our digestive system, taking them is generally considered safe. But effectiveness in treating specific symptoms or conditions is strain specific. Before starting a regimen of probiotics, it is best to consult your practitioner, to decide which supplements or foods are right for you.

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Oriental Medicine and Male Menopause

The term “menopause” is most commonly used to refer to women and the associated suffering that comes with aging - hot flushes, mood swings etc. However, there is also a similar condition called “male menopause” or, more accurately, “andropause”. At a certain age, men, too, experience a significant change in hormone levels, most notably testosterone, which effects everything from weight to sex drive.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) recognizes that in men, often between the ages of 40 to 65, a gradual decrease of these male sex hormones such as testosterone begins. Depending on a man’s given lifestyle, eating habits, genetics, and overall level of stress, this decrease can have varying impacts. In some men the symptoms normally associated with “aging” - decreased libido, lack of energy and enthusiasm, cognitive difficulties - can onset rapidly. The Chinese and practitioners of TCM have always believed that barring accident or serious illness the “normal” human lifespan is 120 years. In the TCM tradition the onset of the symptoms of andropause coincides with the end of the “First Life Cycle” or the first 60 years – and the beginning of the next cycle of 60 years. TCM dictates that part of achieving a full lifespan is to take steps using herbs, acupuncture, and other TCM protocols to slow down, or even reverse the aging process caused by hormone depletion.

Modern science now recognizes that the symptoms related to male menopause correspond to lowered levels of particular hormones and not only testosterone. Other hormone levels such as dopamine and especially DHEA all decrease at this time. The levels of these hormones can all be increased through the use of herbal supplements and natural stress reduction techniques such as Tai Ji and qi gong.

TCM practitioners and traditional physicians alike agree that the surest way to combat the symptoms of male menopause is to eat healthy, reduce stress, and exercise often. In addition, the following herbs or supplements containing them have all been shown to be effective in alleviating the problems associated with male menopause.

• Wild Yam
• Black Cohosh
• Saw Palmetto
• Damiana
• Oats
• Raspberry Leaf

Daily intake of bee pollen and royal jelly is also recommended to fight fatigue and increase alertness. A regular program of this kind of supplementation, combined with exercise and stress reduction techniques such as Tai Ji and qi gong, can have any aging male feeling better, and perhaps well on their way to a “second adulthood” of 120 years!

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

~ Anonymous

 

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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - August 2009 | Issue 65


In this issue you will find:

 

Important PCOM Dates:

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Traditional Chinese Medicine and Autism

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, current estimated cases of autism range from one in every 1,000 to one in every 500. Theories suggest vaccines are responsible, but there is growing concern that environmental toxins and pollution may be contributing factors. It is also theorized that nutrition, viral infections, immunizations, and antibiotics may be causal aspects as well.

People speak in terms of children “developing” autism, but new research cited by the Autism Society of America suggest genetic ties -- that the disorder is present prenatal.  An autism symptom will usually appear before the age of three, at which age a formal diagnosis can be made.  Because an autism characteristic can be any combination of insufficiencies in language, social communication, and cognition, autism is difficult to diagnose before normal development in these areas would usually occur. 

Autism is considered a spectrum disorder by standard medicine.  Spectrum disorders are defined as a group of conditions that have similar features but may present an autism symptom in different ways.  Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) includes “classic” autism, Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (atypical autism).  Each of these conditions usually is accompanied by a secondary autism characteristic such as aggression, irritability, stereotypes (involuntary but seemingly purposeful movement), hyperactivity, negativism, volatile emotions, temper tantrums, short attention span, and obsessive-compulsive behavior. 

Unlike Western medicine, which rates the brain the most important factor of the human physique, Chinese medicine sees the body and mind as part of the same circular system with the organs and the central nervous system. Western medicine has traditionally considered emotional influence on the organs as secondary, while Chinese medicine has always seen it as a key to understanding and achieving balance.

In Chinese medicine, reason and awareness, which are strongly affected by autism, are primarily ruled by three organ systems: the Heart, Spleen and Kidney. The Heart holds the Mind or Shen and rules the mental functions, including the emotional state of the individual and short-term memory. The Spleen is linked to the mind’s ability to study, memorize, and concentrate. Kidney qi rules over long-term memory. A disturbance in these areas can lead to displays of any autism characteristic.

The Autism Research Institute asserts that nutritional treatments have shown great success in autism treatment. They suggest for an autism diet avoiding yeast, glutens, casein, and any allergens.  The Chinese medical diet is determined by flavor (pungent, sweet, salty), temperature (both physical and energy quality) and action on the body. Central to the philosophy and practice of Chinese medicine, it is thought that many, if not most, of our health problems are related to imbalances in our diet. Sensitivity to foods is not the cause of autism, but it does appear that certain components of foods exacerbate some of autism’s symptoms. Dietary therapy, by creating a healthy autism diet, helps patients treat illness and maintain health.

Autism has also been treated with acupuncture and massage. These two methods can be a difficult undertaking. It can take time for a child to adjust to touch treatments, but the benefits that have been discovered through studies and by practitioners may well be worth any required patience.

Acupuncture has made incredible strides in treating autism. Its efficacy can possibly be explained through the medical theory that autism is in part a neuroendocrine dysfunction and a result of the incorrect production of opioids. According to the book Scientific Bases of Acupuncture, acupuncture affects opioids, the central nervous system, and neuroendocrine function.

Although alternative autism treatment such as tongue acupuncture and dietary changes should still be viewed as a complementary approach, these exciting early findings stand as an innovative starting point for a new system of autism treatment.

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Emotions and Oriental Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine takes into account both external and internal factors in the creation of an individual’s diagnosis. The current emotional state of the patient is one internal factor that traditional Chinese medicine believes to be very important. In fact, emotions are believed to directly correlate to specific organs and their states of being. Traditional Chinese medical theory believes the body is in the control of the Five Elements: Earth, Wood, Fire, Water, and Metal. Each element corresponds to a specific organ as well as a specific emotion. The emotions are not believed to always be the direct cause of an ailment, but have an undeniable connection with the progress and condition of the problem.  
           
According to the Five-Element school of thought, anger is associated with Wood; joy is associated with Fire, pensiveness with Earth, grief with Metal, and fear with Water. The liver is associated with Wood and therefore with anger, the heart with Fire and joy, the spleen with Earth and pensiveness, the lung with Metal, and grief and the kidney with Water and fear. This is not to say that to experience any of these emotions means that the related organ is out of balance but, rather, that any extreme case or fluctuation of these emotions may be related to a problem with that organ.
           
Emotions in TCM have slightly different meanings than their Western interpretations. In TCM joy, for example, refers to a state of agitation or over-excitement, rather than elation. Related to the heart, this emotion is correlated with heart palpitations, repeated agitation, and insomnia. Anger in TCM is considered to represent resentment, frustration, and irritability. An excess of rich blood is believed to make one prone to anger, and can affect the liver, causing this organ’s energy to rise to the head and result in headaches or dizziness. Pensiveness is thought to be an excess of mental stimulation that can affect the spleen (which rules over vital energy). This can result in fatigue, lethargy, and difficulty concentrating. Lungs are associated with the feeling of grief. Unresolved grief can lead to problems with general energy and one’s qi (life force) because the lungs are thought to distribute this throughout the body. Like the other emotions, fear is considered a normal and at times, inevitable emotion. However, if it becomes chronic, or settles as a deep anxiety, the kidneys can be affected. The kidney’s ability to hold qi may be impaired, and involuntary urination can also occur.

Traditional Chinese medicine is unique in its belief that cause and effect are not linear, but circular. This means that the cause of an ailment may be an emotion, but also that an ailment can lead to an emotion. By striving to balance the organ related to the person’s emotional state, the emotion can be balanced as well, and visa versa.

Acupuncture is one way to accomplish this re-alignment. Acupuncture is the practice of gently inserting needles into specific points on the body to benefit a person’s qi, or life force. There are certain points used in acupuncture that accord with specific organs, and treating these points is how feelings and acupuncture can interplay.

Emotions are considered to be normal and healthy, it is only when they become extreme or uncontrollable that they can open the door to disease. TCM believes them to be the major internal cause of disease within the body, but also the most easily influenced – meaning, that with the right attention and treatment, emotions and their corresponding ailments can change.

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Acupuncture and In Vitro Fertilization

Some of the best health results from the combination of Eastern and Western medicine. Fertility is no exception, and when combined with the Western idea of in vitro fertilization (IVF), Oriental acupuncture can increase chances of pregnancy. Some studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can affect the levels of pituitary and ovarian hormones, which can increase chances of pregnancy. Also, electro-acupuncture (the application of a pulsating electrical current to acupuncture needles as a means of stimulating one’s “qi,” or life force) has been shown to improve blood flow in the uterine arteries of infertile women.
           
Acupuncture is widely known for its ability to induce relaxation. Infertility can be extremely grueling; it often leads to stress and other intense emotions. This can be a vicious cycle for some women, stress can inhibit pregnancy; when the body is relaxed, it functions better. The feeling of well-being provided by acupuncture can serve to relax the muscles of the uterus. If the uterus is in a relaxed state at the time of the IVF embryo transfer, it is less likely to produce contractions that could push the transferred embryo away from fertilization. Acupuncture also improves blood circulation to the ovaries, which will boost the health of the eggs, as well as the uterus, which will increase the lining and make it strong enough to carry eggs full term.
           
By providing better circulation and blood flow to the womb, acupuncture will give the eggs a better chance to be nourished and supported throughout the pregnancy. The best results can be achieved from acupuncture when it is practiced regularly. Rather than a quick fix, it should be viewed as a lifestyle change, like eating healthy, or regular exercise. Studies indicate that receiving acupuncture treatments about 30 minutes before and after in vitro fertilization can increase the chances that the embryo will be successfully implanted, and can also reduce the risk of miscarriage.
             
IVF drugs and the in vitro procedure itself are thought to be more effective if acupuncture is done once a week in the two months prior to the beginning of IVF treatment, as well as continued regularly at least once a week during IVF treatment. A German study, published in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility tested 160 women, giving 80 of them acupuncture with their IVF treatments. The analysis showed that the pregnancy rate for the acupuncture group was considerably higher than for the control group (42.5% vs. 26.3%).
           
Another benefit of acupuncture is that it is affordable, and is gaining increasing coverage by health insurance plans. In vitro fertilization can cost up to 20,000 dollars, and is often not covered by insurance. Prices in acupuncture range, but are usually between 30 and 150 dollars. Using these two practices in conjunction may be women’s best fertility option to date. It is exciting to be able to reap the benefits of two worlds, both ancient and innovative.

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers.

~ Confucius

 

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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.

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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.

Nutritional Supplements

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.

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers.

~ Confucius

 

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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.

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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.

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

“It does not matter how slowly you go forward as long as you never stop.”

~ Anonymous

 

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