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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - December 2006 | Issue 32

In this issue you will find:

Important PCOM Dates

  • December 12 – Chicago Open House
  • December 20 – San Diego New Student Orientation

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Oriental Medicine & Breast Cancer

Approximately 180,000 women will be told they have breast cancer this year. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, after skin cancer, and the leading cause of cancer deaths for women 35 to 54. Though early detection is an important component of survival, prevention is a primary goal in the fight against breast cancer.

Oriental medicine provides many resources for prevention. Exercises such as Qigong, Tai Chi and Yoga reduce stress, a leading cause of cancer, and alleviate tension. These physical arts also bring the body and mind into balance. Since the 1970s medical Qigong experiments for the treatment of breast cancer have shown the exercise improves quality of life and helps delay the growth and onset of cancer.

Studies have shown that women with breast cysts are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer, and that Chinese herbs and acupuncture are effective in resolving breast lumps. According to The Rites of the Zhou Dynasty (1100-400 BCE) Chinese specialists have been treating “swellings and ulcerations” for millennia.  A 1996 study showed acupuncture and herbs to be 78.1% effective in eliminating breast lumps, which can reduce risk of developing malignant cysts.

A healthy diet rich in fiber, soy, vegetables and organically raised foods has shown cancer prevention effects. Breast cancer rates in Japanese and Chinese women, whose diets include more fish and less dairy, red meat and fat, are roughly 1/10 that of American women.

Chinese medicine is useful in all stages of cancer to augment the benefits of conventional treatment, to prevent recurrence and metastasis in early stages, and to promote health, improve quality of life and prolong life in advanced stages.

To learn more about breast cancer prevention, please contact Pacific College of Oriental Medicine at (800) 729-0941 or visit www.PacificCollege.edu.

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Massage for Pain Relief

Each day, more and more Americans are turning to massage therapy to ease pain. Ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome, to chronic arthritis, massage therapy techniques are helping patients of all walks of life get back on their feet again. Just about every culture has used a form of massage to ease pain. Although its healing powers were muted by modern medicine, a growing number of people are returning to its age-old healing properties. The Journal of Rheumatoidology reports that over 70 percent of doctors refer their patients to massage therapy.

Massage eases pain and discomfort in a number of ways. “Manual massage is a long established and effective therapy used for the relief of pain, swelling, muscle spasm, and restricted movement, ” as noted in a study at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. First, massage encourages blood flow to the sore, muscles, or stiff joints and warms the area. According to a study at Peninsula Medical School, “The mechanical action of the hands on cutaneous and subcutaneous structures is believed to enhance the circulation of blood and lymph resulting in increased supply of oxygen and removal of waste products or mediators of pain. ” Massage also triggers the release of natural painkillers called opioids in the brain, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Third, massage speeds up the flow of oxyctocin, a hormone that relaxes muscles and encourages feelings of calmness and contentment. “Most importantly perhaps, a massage can relax the mind and reduce anxiety, which may affect the perception of pain positively. ” The benefits of a good massage are overwhelming, and contribute to overall health and well-being.

Massage therapy is proven effective in easing tightness and pain in lightly to moderately stressed muscles—it is also used in alleviating chronic pain. A 2001 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine discovered that massage was far superior to acupuncture in relieving chronic lower back pain. After 10 weeks, nearly three-fourths of the 262 patients studied said massage was “very helpful” in relieving their pain. Patients who got regular massage treatments were four times less likely to become bedridden due to chronic pain. The authors of the study concluded, “Massage might be an effective alternative to conventional medical care for persistent back pain.”

Massage is also extremely safe. When performed by an experienced, licensed professional, therapeutic massage can relieve pain, tension, knots, and soreness in the body. Those suffering from open wounds, eczema, broken bones, or advanced osteoporosis should talk to a doctor before making an appointment with a massage therapist, for some massage may cause further damage in frail bodies. This is especially true with more forceful forms of massage like shiatsu. Still, massage is overwhelmingly beneficial for most patients, and can help ease the majority of aches and pains one may have.

Goats, GC. Massage- the scientific basis of an ancient art: Part 1. The Techniques. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 1994 Sep;28(3):149-52.

Ernst E. “Massage treatment for back pain. BMJ. 2003 March 15;326(7389):562-563.

Ernst 2003.

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Herbs for Heart Health

Are you wondering if eating right and exercising is enough to keep your heart and circulation in tip-top shape? You might want to join ranks with others who are boosting heart health by adding supplemental herbs to their diet. Here’s a look at some proven herbal heart helpers.

1. Garlic: Affectionately called the stinking rose by those who love its culinary uses, most people don’t think of garlic as a medicinal herb. Still, it has been used for thousands of years as a treatment for a wide range of conditions. Some of those uses include infections, wound healing and tumors. Today, we know that garlic lovers can boast about their lowered cholesterol and blood pressure. The National Cancer Institute is now looking at garlic’s ability to fight several forms of cancer, including stomach and colon cancers.

2. Bilberry: A close relative to the cranberry, the fruit contains anthocyansides, which is a type of flavonoid that helps with blood flow by strengthening capillaries. In fact, research has shown that bilberry not only strengthens coronary arteries but works on the tiniest capillaries in our eyes, which results in vision improvements. Its strong antioxidant properties make it a great tonic for overall health.

3. Hawthorn: Many herbalists consider hawthorn to be one of the best heart tonics on the planet. What’s more it’s helpful for all sorts of heart conditions including arrhythmia and enlarged heart. Although hawthorn hasn’t been shown to reverse heart conditions, it will increase and strengthen deteriorated heart muscle. If you have a healthy heart and want to keep it that way, hawthorn can benefit by reducing cholesterol buildup in artery walls and lowering blood pressure. In Germany hawthorn is very popular since studies conducted by its Federal Ministry of Health has shown that it gently dilates coronary arteries to help circulation within the heart itself.

4. Cayenne: If you like hot and spicy, adding this pepper to your list of heart herbs won’t be hard. It is available in powder, capsules and tinctures. Many herbalists think that cayenne should be added to all herbal preparations because it gets blood flow going so quickly. When some part of the body is ill, blood plays a key role as a delivery system. The blood has to get to the problem area to bring it the nutrition and healing elements it needs. Cayenne is remarkable for getting blood circulation going. Cayenne makes its way through any mucus that might be blocking veins, which in turns helps to lower blood pressure.

5. Ginkgo Biloba: Most have already heard about this herb’s ability to improve brain function. That’s because it works so wonderfully on circulation by getting arteries, capillaries and veins to dilate (enlarge), where needed.  In addition, it inhibits blood from forming clots and stops free radicals from causing damage to vascular walls.

Millions of people have some form of cardiovascular disease. Many of us are making healthy life changes. Adding some of the best heart and circulatory herbs available will enhance your efforts.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

 “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”

- Confucius