In this issue you will find:
- Important PCOM Dates
- Acupuncture for Arthritis
- TCM and Chronic Pelvic Pain
- OM for Prevention and Treatment of the Flu
Millions of Americans report that they cannot perform simple everyday tasks such as tying a tie or opening a jar, because of the debilitating pain of arthritis. Twenty percent of all Americans say that their arthritis symptoms are so severe that it has affected their job performance and their general ability to enjoy life. Despite what one may think, arthritis is not just an “old persons” disease. In fact, almost two-thirds of those with some form of arthritis are younger than age 65. There are two main forms of arthritis: rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In recent studies, acupuncture has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of both.
A study conducted in Germany looked at over 300,000 people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Participants in the study received 15 sessions of acupuncture combined with their usual medical care. During the study, those that had the treatments reported less pain and stiffness, improved function, and better quality of life, than those who had received routine medical care alone. Interestingly enough, those that had the acupuncture treatments, also reported less severity of their symptoms for three months after the study, when they were not receiving acupuncture at all.
Another study was conducted in China on victims of rheumatoid arthritis. Here, participants were treated with traditional acupuncture as well as another technique called electroacupuncture, which uses minute bursts of electricity to stimulate the acupressure points. Participants receiving both the traditional and the electroacupuncture reported significant decreases in the severity of their symptoms.
As when it is used to treat any condition, according to TCM, acupuncture relieves the symptoms associated with arthritis by improving blood and qi flow to the affected areas.
Acupuncture decreases the pain associated with arthritis by increasing the release of neurotransmitters that block pain. The meridians or acu-points that are located along nerve pathways are stimulated by the needles and then send signals to the brain to release endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that are very similar in nature to morphine that are released in the body during times of pain or stress. The painless acupressure needles “fool” the nerves into thinking they are in pain, and the brain releases the chemicals in response.
Today, acupuncture is now so widely accepted as a treatment for arthritis that it is even covered by some health insurance companies. So if one is suffering from any form of arthritis, always consult a doctor first, and if acupuncture is recommended, be sure to check and see if the treatment is covered by insurance.
Chronic Pelvic Pain occurs in both men and women. In men the problem is usually related to the prostate. In women, it is usually associated with endometriosis, menstrual pain, or other factors related to the reproductory organs. The good news is that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has modalities that have proven to be effective in treating Chronic Pelvic Pain (CPP) in both men and women.
A recently published study of a traditional Western style clinical trial conducted by the Fujian College of TCM in China looked at the effectiveness of three separate TCM protocols for the treatment of Chronic Pelvic Pain, or prostatitus in men. Using the standard National Institutes of Health (NIH) scale to measure symptoms of CPP, specifically, pain, urinary difficulties, and quality of life, the study concluded that all three modalities did more to relieve the symptoms of CPP than the placebo group. Of the three groups receiving an actual treatment, the group treated with a decoction of the Chinese herb, Aike, did the best.
Similar positive results were found in pilot studies that examined the effectiveness of acupuncture on benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), prostatitus, and Chronic Pelvic Pain.
In general, Chronic Pelvic Pain is a condition usually more associated with women than men. Here too, TCM has offered substantial, and verifiable relief. Both acupuncture and herbal medications have been used to successfully treat CPP in women. In women CPP takes on many forms. It can occur monthly with the menstrual cycle, a few times a year, or some women are forced to endure CPP almost every day of their reproductive lives. Often “medical science” can find no cause for CPP. Even when the etiology is known, allopathic medicine offers little in the way of relief other than the use of powerful hormonal drugs and painkillers, or invasive surgeries. Western doctors have even resorted to prescribing antidepressants to treat CPP in women with no apparent physical cause for the pain, claiming the problem is emotionally related.
TCM modalities for CPP in women have proven particularly effective in those cases where traditional medicine cannot find an organic cause. Given that TCM treats CPP as it does all conditions, as a problem stemming from qi stagnation or blockage, in this case the problem most likely lies in the Zang fu organs of the liver, kidneys, and heart. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating women suffering from Chronic Pelvic Pain even when a source of origin such as an infection, inflammation, or adhesions can be found.
Chronic Pelvic Pain, especially in women, is a complex disorder often occurring with no single discernable cause. TCM takes a holistic approach to each patient treating not just the symptom, but taking into consideration everything from diet to emotional states. This makes TCM modalities particularly effective for treating CPP, since the source of the discomfort can be due to any number of internal, or external factors.
OM for Prevention and Treatment of the Flu
With H1N1 or the so-called Swine Flu, and its predecessor, the Avian Flu, making headlines world wide – influenza is in the news, and on the minds of many people. As potentially hazardous as these two strains can be – the truth is, the typical seasonal flu takes far more lives in the United States every year then these two strains ever have.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and other Oriental medical practices have a long and successful history of treating and preventing winter colds and the flu. The most common way that Western medicine offers for dealing with the potentially deadly complications of seasonal flu is to use vaccination. The potential risks of vaccines have been well documented. While vaccines have proven to prevent certain strains of the flu, one vaccine cannot prevent all variants of the disease, and a flu shot does absolutely nothing to prevent or lessen the severity of colds.
Oriental medicine, on the other hand, is designed to strengthen the immune system when it is at its most vulnerable – during the winter and flu season. Qi, when restored and strengthened, can prevent the acquisition of colds, flu, and other seasonal viral infections. In the TCM tradition, the symptoms of H1N1 and any flu are the result of pathogenic heat, cold, or dampness. Oriental medicine has an old tradition of using herbal medications to boost qi, and prevent these pathogens from gaining egress into the body. In fact, in China, school children are served herbal teas during flu season to prevent the spread of colds and flu.
Herbal Medications and Flu
Various herbal formulas are used in TCM to treat the different symptoms of the flu. Respiratory issues are treated with herbs such as Jiu ma huang (aka Chinese ephedra). Other treatments for the respiratory conditions associated with colds and flu used in China include an oral liquid called Shuanghuanglian, which is a formula made up of baikal skullcap root, honeysuckle, and forsythia. For the digestive distress that is also often associated with flu, TCM suggests herbs in the family of Ge gen (radix puerariae) and ageratum.
The fever that is common to viral infections such as colds and the flu is believed in TCM to be caused by a heat pathogen. Heat pathogens are traditionally and effectively treated in TCM with herbs such as Huang Lian (Coptis chinensis), which has specifically shown promise against influenza viruses in clinical trials.
It is interesting to note that viruses, such as those that cause colds and the flu, mutate rapidly. Western medicine traditionally develops ant-viral medications with a single active ingredient. TCM herbal medications use many ingredients, with individual practitioners often developing their own unique formulations. It is therefore much easier for mutated viruses to become resistant to traditional pharmaceuticals then to the herbal elixirs of TCM.
“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”