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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.

 ~ Confucius