Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Balancing the summer heat from within [recipe]

"Summer Heat" is considered a pernicious influence typically occurring in the heat and humidity of summer. It is "uprising and spread out," affecting the head, causing thirst, a red face, and headaches. When summer heat combines with dampness due to humidity and over consumption of sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, this leads to a loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fatigue. I've also been seeing patients complaining of more acne in recent weeks.

There are particular acupuncture points that are used to clear excess heat from the body. You may call or email us anytime to schedule an appointment.

With the farmers' markets in full swing with wonderful local produce and meats, I like to encourage my patients to eat particular foods to cool their bodies. Watermelon, tomatoes, eggplants, summer squash and sweet corn all reduce heat signs. Cucumbers are another wonderful option and I've recently discovered a refreshing, cooling summer drink. Try it at home and let us know what you think:

Cooling Cucumber Limeade (concentrated)
3 large cucumbers
6 limes (or more to taste)

Syrup (or less to taste)
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
sprigs of peppermint (also cooling!)

Step 1: Bring the sugar, water and mint to boil in a small saucepan. Once the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear, set aside to cool.

Step 2: Using a juicer*, juice the limes and cucumbers. I used the zest of two limes for a stronger flavor. Combine the cucumber-lime juice, water, and some simple syrup in a large pitcher (I used a mason jar) and chill. Pour over ice and add water or seltzer to taste. Enjoy!

* If you don't have a juicer, a blender will do, just add a bit of water, peel cucumbers and strain after blending to remove seeds

Photo courtesy of (and recipe inspired by) blog Nyam | adventures of cooking and eating...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Decoding an Ancient Therapy

It turns out even my 85 year-old grandmother is proud of the work I do. Last month, along with clipped coupons she send me this article from The Wall Street Journal.

High-Tech Tools Show How Acupuncture Works in Treating Arthritis, Back Pain, Other Ills

This spring the Wall Street Journal ran an excellent article headlining their Health & Wellness section. The articles author, Melinda Beck, reviews the medical science behind acupuncture therapy. For example, as is demonstrated in the image to the left: "A specialized MRI scan shows the effects of acupuncture. The top two images show the brain of a healthy subject. In the middle two images, a patient with carpal tunnel syndrome registers pain (indicated by red and yellow). The bottom images show the calming effect (indicated by blue) in the brain after acupuncture."

Does It Work? While scientists say further research is essential, some studies have provided evidence of acupuncture's effects.

  • Arthritis of the Knee: Acupuncture significantly reduced pain and restored function, according to a 2004 government study.
  • Headaches: Two 2009 reviews found that acupuncture cut both tension and migraine headaches.
  • Lower Back Pain: Acupuncture eased it in a big study last year, but so did a sham treatment where needles didn't penetrate the skin.
  • Cancer: Has proven effective in reducing nausea and fatigue caused by chemotherapy.
  • Infertility: Improves the odds of pregnancy for women undergoing in-vitro fertilization, according to a 2008 review of seven clinical trials.
  • Addiction: Often used to help quit smoking, drinking, drug use and overeating, but there is no conclusive evidence that it works.
Not only does the article discuss common physical ailments, but the more allusive as well. A wonderful interactive tool reveals the common points on the ear that correspond to body conditions. If you'd like to use it, try it out here.

You may download the full text article from our resources page here.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Acupuncture Triggers Natural Painkillers

Finding could lead to more effective, longer-lasting pain treatment

Researchers are closer to unlocking the mysteries of acupuncture, learning more about why the ancient Chinese needle treatment eases pain.

Last month, published a wonderful article about cutting edge research in acupuncture. The article refers to a Nature Neuroscience July 2010 published paper.
This research is so incredibly invaluable to our field, that I can't help but copy the entire article below - it does an excellent job explaining Nedergaard's research, without getting too bogged down in the science (for those who are not science-minded). I do plan on putting at least the abstract of the research paper on my site within the next few weeks - though for those who are interested, PLEASE email and I will send you the full text. Enjoy!

"Scientists have taken another important step toward understanding how acupuncture — the ancient Chinese form of needle therapy — actually eases pain. The technique has been used as a medical treatment for thousands of years, but Western medicine has been slow to adopt the practice, in part because no one could explain how it worked.

One theory was that sticking needles into certain points on the body stimulated the central nervous system to release natural pain-killing endorphins in the brain. But Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, saw a problem with that explanation.

"If you have pain in the leg or in the arm, you give acupuncture close to where you have the pain," she explains. "So, a central mechanism can't explain that, because [then it] wouldn't matter where you give the acupuncture. So we felt there had to be a local mechanism and that's why we looked into adenosine."

Prodding a natural anesthetic into action

Adenosine is a natural pain killer in our cells, which works like a local anesthetic. It's released after an injury, and inhibits nerve signals so the brain never receives the painful messages. Nedergaard explains that an acupuncture needle starts that process.

"In these cells — the muscle cell and the skin cell — they contain adenosine, but normally they don't release it. But the can look at it as a small injury. It's not really painful, but still injures many cells," says Nedergaard. "As soon as adenosine is released it is very potent, so even if a few cells are damaged, it would give rise to a fairly substantial amount of adenosine release and reduction of pain."

Acupuncture's effectiveness as a painkiller has sometimes been attributed to the placebo effect; patients with chronic pain expect the procedure to work, and so they feel better after a treatment, even if their pain is not actually lessened.

Nedergaard and her team worked with mice, who, she points out, have no expectations, so their data has not been compromised by the placebo effect. The mice had discomfort in one paw. The researchers measured the level of pain before and after an acupuncture treatment by touching the paw with a filament and measuring the difference in reaction time.

Nedergaard says understanding the biological basis of acupuncture's effects can lead to improved results.

"Chronic pain is a big issue for patients. We don't have very good painkillers for a very large number of patients and they very often get acupuncture treatment," she says. "So, knowing that adenosine is at least one of the mediators of the painkilling effect of acupuncture, you can go in and simply slow the removal of adenosine and thereby the painkilling effect of acupuncture would last longer."

More than three times longer, Nedergaard found. She says participants at the Purines 2010 scientific meeting in Barcelona, where she presented her team's results, were excited about the findings.

"I think for the field itself, it is very easy to accept because the different steps in the [adenosine] pathway have all been described before. It's always been known that small injury gives rise (to) adenosine release, and it's also been known that adenosine is a painkiller. We just put it together that acupuncture is also injury and you get adenosine release."

Nedergaard is also excited because the drug they used to slow the removal of adenosine — a cancer medication called deoxycoformycin — is already approved by the U.S. government, so human trials may begin soon."
This article is a reprint from VOA News online.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Acupuncture Pregnancy

Pam and Tim O'friel know the agony of infertility first-hand.
Pam O'Friel says "We went through 6 cycles of fertility treatments. And that's a lot of medication, injection, emotion."
Unsuccessful for two years, they decided to stop in vitro fertilization - but continued with acupuncture. Two months later, she got pregnant with Jayden.
Tim O'Friel says "It's a miracle. When I see my daughter and I see that in our life, it makes me believe."
Acupuncturist Mike Kim says inserting the needles at key points increases the flow the body's vital energy - resulting in healthier eggs, more blood flow to the uterus - and in men: healthier sperm. This article continues here.

Contact me at Health On Point for information about how acupuncture helps women AND men conceive!
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