Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - February 2008 | Issue 48
In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates
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Infant Massage and its many Benefits By: Michelle Fletcher
Massage is no longer solely the refuge for overworked athletes and office workers suffering from carpal tunnel. The littlest in our lives are now reaping the many benefits of massage-infants.
Massage applied specifically to infants is deemed infant massage, used to enhance blood circulation, stimulate the nervous system, promote relaxation, decrease the production of stress hormones, and relieve discomfort associated with colic, gas, congestion, and teething. Applied by certified massage therapists or parents who have undergone training in this healing method, infant massage provides many positive benefits for parents and children.
The University Of Miami School Of Medicine and the Nova Southeastern University have been the flagship institutions researching the effects of massage in infants, citing the numerous benefits in clinical studies. According to their numerous studies, "Research suggests that touch is as important to infants and children as eating and sleeping. Touch therapy triggers many physiological changes that help infants and children grow and develop. For example, massage can stimulate nerves in the brain that facilitate food absorption, resulting in faster weight gain. It also lowers levels of stress hormones, resulting in improved immune function."1
Infants who receive massage therapy may reap numerous benefits, including a feeling of relaxation, relief from stress, involvement and interaction with adults, and stimulation to the nervous system, which aids in many bodily functions. "When infant massage therapy is properly applied to preterm infants, they respond with increased weight gains, improved developmental scores, and earlier discharge from the hospital."2
Infant massage also provides benefits for those giving the massage. Parents gain an increased awareness of the baby and his or her needs while enhancing the bonding process between child and caregiver. In the advent of postnatal depression-a common occurrence among mothers following birth-both child and parent are in danger of suffering long-term adverse consequences in their relationship and the infant's development. Improving a mother's depression through massage techniques that not only physically aid the infant but also heal both individuals emotionally may be the key to encouraging positive mother-infant interaction. "Learning the practice of infant massage by mothers is an effective treatment for facilitating mother-infant interaction in mothers with postnatal depression."3 Further, "Parents of the [infant] also benefit because infant massage enhances bonding with their child and increases confidence in their parenting skills."4
The benefits of massage on both infants and their parents are overwhelmingly positive, with research indicating that infant massage is increasingly recognized as a legitimate health care treatment.
1 Field, T. Massage therapy for infants and children. Developmental and Behavioral Psychology. 1995 Apr;16(2):105-11.
2 Beachy, JM. Premature infant massage in the NICU. Neonatal Network. 2003 May-June;22(3):39-45.
3 Onozawa K., et al. Infant massage improves mother-infant interaction for mothers with postnatal depression. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2001 Mar;63(1-3):201-7.
4 Beachy 201.
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Traditional Chinese Medicine and Bone Health
Ten million Americans over the age of 50 suffer from osteoporosis. In addition, 34 million are at a serious risk for developing this debilitating bone disease. Known for the severe loss of bone mass and breakdown of the architecture of the bone, osteoporosis thins the bones to a point where a mere cough can cause a fracture. Twenty percent of those suffering with osteoporosis will die within a year after sustaining a broken hip. Within 15 years, half of all Americans over age 50 will be at risk for osteoporosis-related fractures, according to the Surgeon General.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a holistic approach to preventing and eradicating the source of bone disease. TCM theory states that "The kidneys are in charge of the bones." Essentially, the skeleton's growth, development, and repair are closely related to the kidneys. These organs promote the growth of marrow and the flow of vital energy (qi) through the skeleton.
Post-menopausal women experience both bone loss and kidney weakness. Studies performed at the Traditional Medicine Research Institute in China have found that "the increase of bone mass in amount and density and the increase of age have a close relationship with the abundance of, or decline of, kidney qi." Individuals suffering kidney failure will also experience lower bone density, according to the study.
The second factor that contributes to bone disease is blood flow. Blood flow and qi circulation throughout the body are directly related. Promoting blood circulation may remove such stasis and encourage the production of new bone material. Like Western medicine, TCM promotes vigorous exercise for general well being, and weight exercises for bone strength and health. An American study concludes that athletic and active women maintain bone mass longer later in life. Further, a study at the Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver suggests that, "Moderate physical activity in people with osteoporosis can reduce the risk of falls and fractures, decrease pain and improve fitness and overall quality of life. It may also stimulate bone gain and decrease bone loss." Movement is as important in preserving healthy bones as eating well and getting enough calcium.
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Reducing the Risk of Stroke With Teab
Drinking teas that are made from the Camellia Sinesis plant, that is Black, Green, and Oolong, can reduce the likelihood of stroke in the same manner it reduces the chance of heart disease and cancer. Tea as preventative medicine is so effective because it works with the body's natural state of balance to placate the onset of age and lifestyle related disease.
There are different classifications of a stroke, but for the most part they all entail blockage of blood flow to the brain either by blood clot, or the hardening and narrowing of the arteries. Some signs that suggest a person is at risk for stroke include genetics, cholesterol levels, volume of sugar in the blood serum, amount of salt intake, lack of exercise, and if they are a smoker. These are all contributing factors that lead up to high blood pressure, which suggests the heart is working too hard because of blockage in the arteries. It takes a lifetime of poor eating and exercise habits to create the stroke environment, but some people are more susceptible than others.
Drinking tea regularly (2-8 cups a day) has shown to reduce the risk of stroke as well as help speed the recovery from stroke. Stroke isn't one of those diseases that affects or develops in everyone the same way. Strokes are not caused by a virus or bacteria, but they are, however, partly due to an outside source - processed foods high in cholesterol and sugar. The body just cannot metabolize the Western diet efficiently, and over the course of time as the body tries to regulate itself, toxins accumulate, energy stores are depleted, and blockages form. Eating a diet high in sugar or a diet high in fat is unhealthy, but eating a diet loaded with sugar and fat is detrimental.
Tea has been shown to reduce the rate at which carbohydrates are broken down in the small intestine by inhibiting the effects of enzymes. This means less sugar is absorbed into the blood stream at one time, which can lead to the adrenaline/insulin roller coaster. Often times when a person has a stroke or heart attack it isn't after eating a meal high in fat, as if the small amount of fat in food was the straw that broke the camel's back. In fact, it is meal high in starches that can be a killer. The heart gets pumping harder as adrenaline kicks in, the blood pressure rises, then an existing clot is pushed into place, thus stopping blood flow. Stressful situations can give rise to increased blood pressure through the fight or flight response in a similar manner. Tea is a natural relaxant to muscles and tissues as it shoulders some of the load of metabolizing energy that the body is constantly in the process of.
Drinking Tea also helps to minimize the damage done in arteries by free radicals, from carcinogens and the air we breathe, which react with cholesterol molecules in the blood stream. Tea is loaded with anti-oxidants that not only scavenge free radicals that damage blood cells, but all other cells of the body. Tea also decreases the rate at which self-programmed cell death occurs. Over the years as cells replicate and replace each other, the integrity of DNA is degraded. This is aging. Tea helps in the repair and protection of neurons in the brain and central nervous system to keep the body's reflexes and reactions, internal and external, sharp.
Tea aids liver function by not only regulating blood sugar levels but also by boosting the ability to metabolize glucose from fat and protein sources. When the body is in balance it can utilize the lipids that combine with proteins in the blood stream to form cholesterol more efficiently. When LDL cholesterols accumulate in the arteries they harden the walls by forming plaque. This narrows the passageways of blood, making it easier for a clot to get stuck in an artery leading to the brain, or for that part of the brain to atrophy. The liver produces all the cholesterol our bodies need for repair and maintenance of cell walls; it is the cholesterol in food that gets us in trouble. It is thought that drinking tea before a meal will reduce the amount of fat our intestines absorb. Instead of sending it into the bloodstream where it is not needed it passes through the digestive tract.
These are a few examples of how drinking tea promotes a healthy body and decreases the likelihood of stroke symptoms and precursors to develop. Regular exercise is also important to utilize the nutrients in the food we eat efficiently. Tea has been shown to increase endurance for exercise, which depletes energy stores and makes room for new energy. Stagnation anywhere in the body impedes blood flow. Drinking Tea isn't a cure all for stroke, but when accompanied by a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low in processed fats and sugars it can help stabilize and balance the system.
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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.
Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - December 2007 | Issue 46
In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates
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Dr. Tom Haines Receives AAAOM 2007 Leadership Award
Thomas Haines, Ph.D., the Coordinator of Doctoral Studies and Assistant to the President at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego, was awarded one of the 37 coveted Leadership Awards presented at the 25th anniversary conference of the AAAOM held in Portland, Oregon in October 2007. These awards were given to honor some of the pioneers and leaders that helped expand Oriental medicine in this country over the past 25 years. Dr. Haines spent more than 35 years in higher education before coming to the field of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AOM). Since joining the AOM community over a decade ago, Tom has been highly influential in bringing higher education standards to the field of Oriental medicine and in the development of the postgraduate doctorate degree in Oriental Medicine. His role as an Academic Dean for ACTCM in San Francisco for four years then later serving as an administrator for the past eight years at Pacific College along with his 12-year membership as a public board member on the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance board helped him to promote and shepherd the development of the postgraduate clinical doctorate standards. His involvement with the Council of Colleges of Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) doctoral task force and later the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) doctoral task force allowed him to help guide this process to fruition.
In 1998, Dr. Haines attended the biannual CCAOM meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, armed with a set of doctoral standards that were designed for implementation within the profession of Oriental medicine. Present at this meeting were most of the 41 colleges of Oriental medicine that were accredited at that time. The CCAOM had been contemplating the doctorate degree for the profession for over a decade. The new interest among the colleges was in the development of a postgraduate clinical doctorate for licensed practitioners of OM. “Each school had a different idea of what they wanted the doctorate to be and there was a 'hand shake' agreement between the colleges that no school would start a doctorate program until they all agreed on the standards. Obviously, consensus had to be developed before the process could move forward. I mediated a process (with invaluable input from Dr. Richard Hammerschlag) over a 61 hour period using the Delphi technique to establish agreement,” Tom said. CCAOM members at this meeting eventually agreed to the doctoral standards and later that year, the standards were passed on to ACAOM for review.
At the end of a two-year public review process, the ACAOM Doctoral Task Force accepted almost 95% of the recommended standards established by CCAOM. In May of 2000, ACAOM, which oversees accreditation of the degrees in this field, published the standards for a clinical, postgraduate doctorate degree. The first OM colleges began offering postgraduate doctoral degree programs in 2002. Today there are over 10 colleges approved to award the Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) degree. As of October 2007, Dr. Haines said, "there are approximately 65 DAOM graduates with another 150 to 160 doctoral fellows currently seeking their doctorate degrees in a variety of clinical specialties ranging from pain management to family medicine. The DAOM process has gained a critical mass and we will see many more practitioners elect to take advantage of this option."
Dr. Haines stated he had one primary goal when he agreed to come out of retirement and become involved in the field of Oriental medicine. This goal was to help develop a clinical doctorate degree for the Oriental medicine profession. However, with his involvement at the national level as an Alliance board member, Dr. Haines soon acquired a second mission. This mission was to help bring about the unification of the profession, or in his words, "the establishment of 'one voice' for the medicine".
Due to the hard work and compromise from many in the profession, Dr. Haines was able to help facilitate an agreement acceptable to the colleges, and the often opposing, but similarly invested groups of the American Association of Oriental Medicine (AAOM) and the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance (AOMA). These two professional membership groups were once united as the AAAOM, but a separation occurred over fifteen years ago due to major philosophical differences within the original AAAOM group, many revolving around the role of doctorate level education in the field of Oriental medicine.
After many years of confrontational politics, the major differences between these newly formed groups were set aside when Dr. Haines and Dr. Will Morris were selected to co-chair the Visioning Search Task Force (VSTF, Acupuncture Today, November 2004, Vol. 5, Issue 5), which attempted to consolidate the profession through a Future Search process, a well known conciliatory course of action.
Although the VSTF did not bring about full unity, it contributed significantly toward developing a climate that allowed the two national groups to continue a dialogue directed at unification of the profession. With behind-the-scene facilitation from Dr. Haines and other leaders in the profession, and through invaluable support from the American Acupuncture Council (primarily represented by Vice President Michael Schroeder), this continued effort toward unification was fully realized at the 2007 January meeting of the two boards in Dallas, Texas. As a result of this landmark meeting, both national groups agreed to once again reform as a united front as the AAAOM beginning February 1st, 2007.
Dr. Haines played an important part in this merger, urging the groups to focus on their common goals regarding the advancement of the field of Oriental medicine. It was a long road to success, but this joining of the two associations was part of Tom’s second goal: he wanted to bring the people in the field together. “When I am at legislative or national meetings, I want to be able to say ‘we’ have consensus on the major issues influencing our profession. The perception of 'unity' is very important for those looking at us from the outside,” Tom said.
Dr. Haines is currently working on a third AOM career objective, the development and implementation of an entry-level doctorate in the field of Oriental medicine. The entry level doctorate will allow people to go straight for their doctorate in AOM instead of first having to receive an elongated master's degree (which is almost four years long) before moving on to the postgraduate clinical doctorate. “An entry-level doctorate will add credibility to the field by providing greater patient care, much needed visibility and, ultimately, be more time-effective and economical for students. ” Tom said.
Dr. Haines is currently a member of the NCCAOM Joint Task Analysis Taskforce, which is conducting a national occupational survey to establish appropriate credentialing guidelines within the field of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. He is also working closely with the California Acupuncture Board in their efforts in completing the California 2008 Occupational Analysis, which will help to define what items the entry level California Acupuncture Licensing Exam (CALE) will contain.
Dr. Haines said he was "drawn to this medicine because of its potential to address the major health issues in America, i.e., high levels of stress, poor diets and the lack of exercise." The Leadership Award granted to Dr. Haines from the AAAOM is in response to his unfailing efforts to help people work together in the field of acupuncture and Oriental medicine to improve and create more educational opportunities as well as increase the awareness of this wonderful medicine's potential.
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Acupuncture and Tai Ji Beneficial For Healthy Weight Loss
According to the American Public Health Association, obesity rates among adults in the past decade have skyrocketed, increasing by 60 percent. As Americans spend more than $33 billion annually on weight-loss products and services, most diet fads bring only short-term solutions. As January is Lose Weight and Feel Great Month, acupuncture and tai ji are a great alternative to for shedding those extra pounds.
When attempting to diet, many people experience withdrawal, or cravings, due to a lack of endorphins. The need to eat is often so strong that dieters binge on food. This is one reason why diets often cause people to gain more weight rather than lose it. Acupuncture and tai ji counterbalance these cravings by releasing endorphins in the brain, which actually alleviate the withdrawal symptoms that many dieters experience and eventually succumb to.
Weight gain can also be caused by stress, which increases cortizol levels in the body. This increase in cortizol can alter metabolism, thus causing stressed people to gain weight. As with cravings, the endorphins released by acupuncture and the gentle motions of tai ji also help reduce stress, which can reduce the need to overeat.
Both tai ji and acupuncture can also stimulate the hyopthalamus. This induces weight loss because the hypothalamus regulates the body’s thyroid and hormone levels, which in turn regulate metabolism.
In addition to regulating the body internally, tai ji also provides the benefits of exercise by building strength, restoring balance, and increasing flexibility. Tai ji’s gentle movements and low physical impact make it a great activity for aging bodies, those recovering from injury, or people looking to change up their exercise routine.
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Endometriosis Diminished with Traditional Chinese Medicine
Women of all ages and backgrounds can be affected by the condition of endometriosis. In fact, an estimated five to seven million American women currently suffer from this condition, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Endometriosis is derived from the word “endometrium,” which is the lining of a woman’s uterus. In this condition, organs like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, ligaments surrounding the uterus, and possibly the lungs, head, and other locations, are lined with the endometrium as well as the uterus. However, unlike the uterus, these linings are not expelled from the body during menstruation, but rather linger and are slowly absorbed into the body. This can cause symptoms ranging from pain during intercourse, before menstruation, low back pain, nausea, fatigue, and even infertility.
The Western diagnosis and treatment for this condition are both invasive. A laparoscopy is performed to diagnose the condition; this is when a lighted optical tube is inserted through a small incision in the navel. Western treatments for endometriosis include surgery and drug therapy. The causes of endometriosis are still unclear, although many theories have been made with attention to stress, genetic predispositions, and exposure to heat or cold during menstruation.
A non-invasive, more soothing approach to diminishing endometriosis is found in traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture, massage, and herbal therapy have all been linked with success regarding this condition. Traditional Chinese medicine considers endometriosis as a condition of Blood Stasis, which means that the woman’ s blood circulation is poor. The TCM treatment for endometriosis attempts to increase circulation by smoothing the channel, or pathway, that supplies blood to the body. A common method for this is the use of Chinese herbs such as pangolin scales, cinnamon twigs, fennel seed, and lindera, which have blood or qi regulating properties. Other herbs like corydal, corydalis, mastic, myrrh, and bupleurum are known for their efficient pain-killing properties.
Acupuncture can also be used to treat endometriosis. This can help to both relieve any painful symptoms of the condition as well as to help balance the body’s hormones. When acupuncture needles are applied to points influencing the nervous system, organ functions, and endocrine system, balance can be restored and blood stasis improved. The liver and kidneys are thought to be two of the most important organs regarding fertility and menses in traditional Chinese medicine. When acupuncture is performed with attention to these organs, many of the various pains of endometriosis can be alleviated.
Lastly, it is thought that high levels of stress can contribute to the cause or perpetuation of this condition. Another form of TCM that can help to regain good qi (a person’s life force), or to maintain optimal health is the practice of massage. In particular, the Tui Na massage is thought to be beneficial for endometriosis. This massage focuses on the grasping and pulling of certain muscle groups, and serves as a painkiller. Oriental medicine is often thought to be more effective and more comfortable a treatment for endometriosis than the alternative Western courses of action, and should be considered a powerful aid for women suffering from any of these unfortunate symptoms.
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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day
If you don’t scale the mountain, you can’t view the plain.
~ The Book of Odes