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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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