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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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