Thursday, December 20, 2012

Preserving Your Energy This Winter

Today is our first snow fall - and tomorrow is winter solstice! 
As the weather gets colder, it is a wise choice to take some time for yourself to restore your energy. Don't resist the urge to nestle into your snug home. It turns out that the law of nature requires you to slow down in the winter. Here are five secrets that will preserve your energy, bringing you health - and tranquility.

Winter: the sleep of nature
Winter season is when nature sleeps, and everything experiences the slowing of natural processes -- even our bodies. Humans stopped hibernating like their ancestral cousins long ago, but our bodies still experience the natural inclination to slow down in winter. The winter is a time to come back to quietness and rebuild your energy reserves.  According to Chinese medicine, the winter season is linked to kidneys, the adrenal glands, and the bladder. When these bodily systems are out of balance, energy becomes depleted and this can pave the way to illness. During the cold months of winter, people are more prone to colds, flu, poor circulation, low Vitality, and seasonal mood disorders.

To stay healthy, happy, and vital, follow the wise winter advice of the Yellow Emperor:
1. Early to bed, rise when the sun is up
Go to sleep early and wait to let the sun bathe the house before rising from bed. Get your zzz's in -- at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Try taking a 20- to 30-minute easy walk one hour before you go to bed to improve the quality of your sleep.

2. Be content
The Yellow Emperor advises us to avoid experiencing excessive emotions in the winter because they drain your energy reserves.
  • Follow your bliss. Use the cold dark days of winter to stay in and cuddle up with a book, or pick up a new indoor hobby
  • Beat the winter blues with light therapy. Studies show that exposure to sunlight stimulates the pineal gland, which affects the production of other brain chemicals such as serotonin, the neurotransmitter sometimes called the "mood chemical." It can also boost your immune system, waking up the activities of the natural killer cells that patrol our borders looking for intruders and cancer cells. If weather permits, get outdoors daily and let the sun bathe you with its life-giving and spirit-lifting properties. Even in the winter, avoid overexposure with sunscreen if out in the sun between 10 am - 3 pm.
3. Nurture energy storage
The three months of winter are when all living things should return home and be conserved. Engage in activities that are in harmony with the energies of winter.
  • Avoid energy-depleting activities. Don't try to do too much in one day. Try making only one or two items a priority every day. And be sure you give yourself some personal time, not just from other people, but also from our modern amenities that claim ever more of our personal space, such as TV, computers, and smart phones. Try this: pick one day a week to perform your own "system restore." Turn off the TV. Don't watch the news. Limit your email time. These are the ways to maintain your energy and lessen stress.
4. Eat for the season: no raw, cold foods
To keep your health and energy up in the cold months of winter, the Yellow Emperor recommends avoiding cold and raw foods, reducing salt to protect your kidneys, and increasing bitter flavors (like kale, for instance.) So steer clear of raw vegetables, cold salads, and icy cold foods and beverages. Instead your diet should follow nature's menu for the seasons.

In winter, you'll tend toward a warming diet including leeks, onions, and turnips. Also, iron-rich foods can help warm you up: try spinach, broccoli, dried plums, oats, quinoa, sunflower and sesame seeds, walnuts, yams, squash, kale, garlic, scallions, and parsley. Hearty soups are good for you during the winter months. Drink only warm or hot water.

5. Avoid coldness and linger around warmth
  • Dress warmly, paying special attention to your middle. In Chinese medicine, the abdomen is considered the storehouse of the body's energy. Keeping your abdomen warm and protected from weather extremes has immense immunity benefits. A good way to replenish your energy bank is to regularly place a heat pack on your middle. 
  • Drink warming tea to keep your Vitality fired up. At Health on Point, we have several organic bulk tea options.
  • Chinese herbs can protect your energy reserves and boost your immunity. Astragalus and ginseng are considered to be adaptogens -- natural substances that improve the body's resistance to physical and environmental stress, thereby enhancing the immune system. 
Local, handmade lavender eye masks - perfect for winter
I hope this advice gives you the steps for a healthy, happy winter. I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

Keep in mind, we will have limited office hours through the first of the year, so if you need to stop by for teas, herbs, or some newly created lavender eye masks - do call first!

May you live long, live strong, and live happy! 

- Rachel and Sarah

Monday, December 10, 2012

How to Lower Stress and Survive the Holidays With Acupuncture

A large glass of water w/ Herbal Resistance Formula
aides in de-stressing AND boosts your immune system!
Acupuncture is well known for its potential ability to lower stress. Many people use acupuncture for stress reduction. And in my experience, even those who don't admit to or notice stress in their lives commonly report a greater sense of lightness and evenness to their moods after having acupuncture.

During the holiday season, many of us would benefit from the stress-reduction benefits of acupuncture. Too often though, we find it impossible to take the time for ourselves.

If you can swing going for acupuncture this time of year, all the better -- regular acupuncture treatments are, in my opinion, the best way to stay healthy and mentally balanced during high-stress times. But if you, like many people, are on a tighter schedule and budget for the coming month, we've got the next-best thing.

I asked acupuncturists and colleagues to share one piece of acupuncture-inspired advice for reducing holiday stress. I've simplified their suggestions for self-care tips that can be applied anytime, anywhere, and for next to nothing. This week and next week, we will share these ideas - and will offer related discounts both in clinic and as posted exclusively for fans on Facebook.

Appreciate Water
In acupuncture, each season has an associated natural element. Winter's is water. As the holidays cue our wintery instincts, we can use water literally and metaphorically as a natural holiday de-stressor.

I recommend starting every day with a large glass of lukewarm water. Fill your favorite glass with water and drink it slowly (even better if you add a few drops of Herbal Resistance Liquid), followed by taking some deep breaths into your abdomen. This morning ritual helps keep your body hydrated and relaxed at a time when more-than-usual amounts of alcohol and caffeine (both dehydrators) meet higher-than-usual stress levels.

Metaphorically, water serves as a model for coping with holiday stress. When stress starts to mount, close your eyes and imagine yourself as strong, yet fluid and flexible. You are easily able to adjust around whatever gets in your way. To truly live this experience, fill your tub with hot water and some bath salts. A variety of salts, including epsom - as well as essential oils - is an incredible treat.

For more information about Herbal Resistance or our special formulated bath soak 'Relax', contact us directly or find discounts for Facebook fans here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Nutrition for good night's sleep

Do you have a hard time catching the zzzzz’s you need? Six to eight hours of quality sleep every night is necessary for your immune system, digestion, energy, and mental health.  It’s vital to recharge your body so you can conquer the day ahead!  Here are some nutritional tips to help you settle down for the night:

Keep your caffeine to a minimum, and only in the morning.  
Every body breaks down caffeine differently, but its effects always last longer than the initial buzz you feel.  It can take anywhere from 5-11 hours for your body to metabolize caffeine completely.  Limit your caffeine to less than 150mg per day (about one 8 oz coffee), and stick to drinking it in the morning.  For the caffeine content of different beverages, check out this page from the Mayo Clinic.

No meals or snacks within 2 hours of bedtime.  
While your body does require some restful time for digesting, the whole process does require quite a bit of energy.  It can be hard to get to sleep when your digestive organs are still hard at work!  Additionally, meals close to bedtime can result in weight gain and heartburn.

Make sure you’ve got magnesium in your diet. 
Magnesium is necessary for relaxation in a number of different ways.  Good sources of magnesium include seeds (like sunflower or flax) and dark leafy greens. If you find your digestion is irregular in addition to being wound up at bedtime, a magnesium supplement may be an excellent option to get things moving. At Health On Point we carry a product that patients and practitioners alike swear by. Stop in for a free sample!

Calm down with some herbal tea.  
Our Super Sleep herbal tea is compounded to help your body prepare for sleep.  Take a few minutes away from the computer, television, or other distractions to clear your mind and help you settle down.

This week's article courtesy of Daily Dose Wellness.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Acupuncture used in treating ADHD

The ability to focus and tune out distraction can be challenging for anyone. But for children and adults with ADHD, it is a daily, frustrating battle.

Medication and behavioral therapy are traditional methods of treatment. Now, Acupuncture is being used to ease the symptoms of ADHD.

A recent study by the Mayo Clinic finds that seven and a half percent of all school-age children are affected by ADHD. And symptoms vary from child to child. Some may struggle with focus, distractibility, impulsivity, hyperactivity, or a combination of them."Western medicine looks at ADHD as a brain dysfunction, a brain chemistry dysfunction," says licensed acupuncturist Allison Bower. "Eastern medicine looks at ADHD as the organ functions are malfunctioning, then causing the brain function to be off."

Acupuncture works well in addition to other treatments, such as behavioral therapy and nutritional plans. "If we can balance the energy, or the qi, of the organ systems in the body, then the brain chemistry can adjust," Bower explains. Acupuncture can help calm the disruptive nature of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and it can also help to ease the side effects of the medications used to treat ADHD.

Gabrielle Belli was diagnosed with ADHD at age 11.

"Distractibility has always been sort of an issue," she admits. Impulsivity is also a problem, in addition to social anxiety. That's not uncommon. ADHD is often coupled with other disorders ranging from social anxiety to depression, or facial tics.

"ADHD often does not fly solo. It flies along with some anxiety or some depression. So we know that if acupuncture speaks to those conditions, it will most certainly speak to ADHD," according to Jill Zupon, Founder and Executive Director of The Attention Center, the Independence facility devoted solely to the care of children and adults with ADHD and ADD. In addition to testing, therapy, nutritional services and coaching Zupon saw the benefits of acupuncture and brought Bower on board.

"We are not a center that provides homeopathic medicine. But we knew that it would be a good alternative to those who didn't want to be medicated," Zupon explains. Belli tried medication, but found it didn't work for her. She came to The Attention Center for help managing her ADHD. When she heard they also offered acupuncture, Belli decided to give it a try. "I felt more like myself than I had probably in a whole year. So it was just the biggest relief," Belli claims.

We went with Gabrielle on a day she visited Bower. Home from Ohio University, she hadn't received acupuncture in about two months. She had lost two sets of keys in recent weeks, and says she struggled with her organization and thought processes. For Gabrielle, the benefits of acupuncture she says are almost immediate. "I can really tell. I speak different, my attitude is different," she tells us.

"I am centered. I am thinking clearly. I am organized," she says.

Acupuncture can help to calm the impulses that make it hard to stay still. It can also work to improve concentration and bolster the immune system and energy of the patient which can address both the sluggishness commonly associated with ADD patients and hyperactivity commonly seen in patients with ADHD.

Zupon believes a transformation takes place from the time that a client walks into Allison's office, to the moment they walk out. "We get to see someone go in one way and come out another way. It's wonderful," Zupon said.

Acupuncture in the management of ADHD is still relatively new. Currently, there is no scientific proof to support its benefits. But patients like Gabrielle believe it has made a difference in their lives.
For patients who take medicine, They say that the acupuncture can help alleviate common negative side effects of the drugs such as appetite suppression, sleeplessness and dry mouth.

In a perfect world, Gabrielle says she would like to get treatment every other week. But she must work it around her visits home from school. Treatment is different for each person. Some people need it every week, others go every other week, or every few months. If you or someone you know has ADD/ADHD, call for a consultation to see if acupuncture may help!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Acupuncture Eases Fatigue Linked to Breast Cancer

Earlier this month, US News & World Reported the following article which examines acupuncture in conjunction with Western medical care for oncology patients. At this time, Rachel is the only acupuncturist in Iowa to complete training with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Women in study had less physical, mental fatigue and better quality of life

Offering breast cancer patients a relatively short regimen of acupuncture alongside standard treatment can help alleviate some of the crippling fatigue that often accompanies the disease, according to a new study.

The magnitude of help that patients undergoing acupuncture experienced was deemed by the study team to be "both statistically and clinically important."

"I am quite excited with these results," said study lead author Alex Molassiotis, a professor of cancer and supportive care with the school of nursing, midwifery and social work at the University of Manchester, in England. "They provide some good evidence of an effect of acupuncture for the management of a very debilitating and burdensome symptom for patients."

"The addition of a new treatment approach gives patients and health professionals more options," Molassiotis added, noting that the range of options specifically designed to address fatigue issues among cancer patients has been limited.

The study appeared online Oct. 29 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

More than 40 percent of breast cancer patients experience significant cancer-related fatigue, according to background information included in the study. For some patients the problem may persist at a moderate or even severe level for years following the cessation of treatment.

To explore the potential of acupuncture treatment, the authors focused on more than 300 women with breast cancer who were being cared for as outpatients at one of nine health care facilities across the United Kingdom.

At the time of the study, participants had been diagnosed with either stage 1, 2 or 3 breast cancer, and all had been experiencing at least moderate levels of fatigue for an average of 18 months. Most were white, and their average age was 53.

For a six-week period, all patients continued to receive the same care they had been receiving before the study, and all were additionally given an information booklet that tackled the issue of fatigue management.

However, more than 200 of the patients also were randomly chosen to undergo weekly 20-minute acupuncture sessions that involved needle placement at three different entry points.

By the end of the six-week period, those who had received acupuncture appeared to fare better on every measure of fatigue that the team assessed.

Specifically, those in the acupuncture group reported feeling notably better than the "usual-care" group in terms of overall fatigue, physical and mental fatigue, anxiety and depression levels, functional well-being, emotional well-being, social functioning, and overall quality of life.

"Acupuncture is a complementary therapy that not only can have direct effects on the symptom experience of patients, but also ... provide the opportunity [for] patients to be more involved with their symptom management and empower them more," Molassiotis said. "Patients also like 'natural' and 'traditional' approaches to health management."...

Dr. Laura Kruper, director of the Cooper-Finkel Women's Health Center and chief of the breast surgery service at the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif., described the British effort as both "well done" and "strong."

"Acupuncture has been used in a variety of settings within medicine, such as to control chemotherapy-related nausea, post-operative nausea, migraines and chronic pain," she said. "It is still not exactly known how acupuncture works, but that does not mean it does not have therapeutic benefit."

But, while noting that "many patients turn to complementary therapies to bridge the gaps that Western medicine does not fill," Kruper stressed the need "to ensure that these therapies are safe, effective and reliable."

"In the world of medicine, we rely on investigational studies to guide our treatment decisions so that we provide evidence-based medicine," she said. "Complementary therapies need to undergo the same rigorous tests that Western medicine does. This study was exemplary in that it was conducted with adherence to the principles of scientific method, and hopefully a study like this will be the first of many."

If you or someone you know would benefit in Acupuncture to complement their Western medical care, please call and schedule your appointment with Health On Point today.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Health and Diet: Should I Take a Multivitamin?

More and more of our patients are interested in how they can care for themselves outside the clinic. On a daily basis I hear, "What can I do between treatments?" or "Is there anything I can do on my own to help me reach my goals?". What I love about my practice and what Health On Point has to offer, is that it is NOT a passive experience. What happens in the treatment room is invaluable, but so are the behaviors and choices you make once you walk out into the world. We are on the cusp of winter, and often it is a season of neglect. Many become distracted by holidays and family excitement (or troubles!) and of course the impending cold which leaves many feeling cooped up and unhealthy. In response to your inquiries and concern for self care, I will be posting monthly - if not bi-weekly - articles on self care. Some will take the form of nutrition/supplement support. Other articles will include whole foods recipes or special offers available in clinic. We are incredibly excited to share this with you. Please let us know what you think - and if you have particular interests or requests, we are all ears!

Today's article is from a colleague's website. She is a wonderful nutritionist and is thrilled to share her knowledge with us. The topic we’ll discuss this week is what current research says about the effectiveness of taking a daily multivitamin.  Keep in mind that vitamins and supplements are just as serious as prescription drugs; so don’t take anything new without talking it over with a healthcare professional!

Many people like the concept of a multivitamin.  It seems like a good idea to take a pill to make up for any nutritional gaps in one’s diet.  But does it actually do your body any good?

One 2011 study looked at the multivitamin use and health issues of 182,099 participants over the course of three years.  They found no difference in cancer risk, heart disease, or mortality between the persons who used multivitamins and those who didn’t.

On the other hand, some studies have found that people who use multivitamins have lower rates of disease.  Another study from 2011 found that breast cancer patients who took a multivitamin after treatment had higher survival rates.  These studies also find that people who take multivitamins tend to eat more plant foods and exercise, so it can be hard to tell if the vitamin is adding any additional benefit.

Based on the current research, it appears that a multivitamin does no visible harm or good.  Some people with specific health needs may benefit from a vitamin or herbal supplement.  It’s important to discuss supplements with a Nutritionist, Dietitian, Herbalist, or Pharmacist before trying anything new.  For the most part, your dollars will be better spent on wholesome fresh foods instead of pills!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Acupuncture, Yes.

Figuring out what medical expenses qualify for flexible-spending accounts can be tricky. Yesterday, a Wall Street Journal article highlighted this very issue. This short piece reminds me - to remind YOU - that we have arrived to the season of the "benefits rush." It is the end-of-year period when employees make a mad dash to use up remaining funds in medical flexible-spending accounts.
"People want to make sure they don't lose the money," says Craig Hankins, who leads consumer-engagement programs in UnitedHealthcare's product and innovation group. Employer-sponsored flexible-spending accounts, or FSAs, allow workers to sock away pretax earnings for qualified out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Unlike health-savings accounts available to those enrolled in qualified high-deductible health plans, FSA funds can't be rolled over from year to year. What does and doesn't count as a qualified medical expense, however, can be confusing. Fortunately for our patients, Acupuncture is covered by FSA accounts! Call or email today to schedule appointments before the end of the year. As life grows more hectic and holiday plans (and the flu season) is underway, isn't this the perfect time for Acupuncture? And doesn't coverage by your employer make it all the sweeter?

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Video: Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia (FM or FMS) is a medical disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain and a heightened and painful response to pressure. Other symptoms include debilitating fatigue, sleep disturbance, and joint stiffness. Fibromyalgia is estimated to affect 2–4% of the population, with a female to male incidence ratio of approximately 9:1. The term "fibromyalgia" derives from new Latin, fibro-, meaning "fibrous tissues", Greek myo-, "muscle", and Greek algos-, "pain"; thus the term literally means "muscle andconnective tissue pain".

Researchers estimate that the majority of fibromyalgia patients try alternative treatments to relieve their symptoms. The ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture is one that helps. A study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows acupuncture relieves fatigue and anxiety in fibromyalgia patients for up to seven months after the treatment. We find overall that acupuncture for FMS has a positive effect, and acupuncture combined with western medicine strengthens the curative effect. 

Want to try acupuncture but not sure what to expect? Call us directly or check out our online FAQ's.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

An Introduction to the Essentials

Nature provides us with a vast array of medicinal plants that humans have relied upon since the beginning of humankind.

Today, those same medicinal plants are still used in a distilled and concentrated form we call essential oils. Safe, effective, and affordable, essential oils do far more than just smell good: they heal!

This weekend, I attended a seminar to further my training (and feed my interest!) in the use of essential oils with Chinese medicine. We at Health On Pint Acupuncture use only pure and certified organic essential oils, guaranteed to be as safe and effective as nature intended. 

Essential oils combined with acupuncture often provide far greater results than either treatment alone. The effects extend beyond relaxation or calming the mind and spirit (though they are excellent at those). The scientific body of research is growing constantly with proven uses for essential oils including killing many types of harmful bacteria and providing pain relief!

Health On Point Acupuncture is dedicated to providing healing with and education of essential oils to anyone interested in at-home, holistic health care. We are in the process of putting together essential oil and self care packages for the season, please let us know if you are interested! For more information, e-mail or call us.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Food Matters: A response to the Stanford Study

As many of my patients know, I have a not-so-secret love affair with Mark Bittman. First, and perhaps most importantly, I credit my husband's interest in food and cooking skills (which began about 72 hours after our son was born) to Mr. Bittman's now defunct Minimalist articles (and videos!) in the NYTimes.

At the same time, I adore his published cookbooks and online instructions, but I can't help but obsessively follow his food blog. The blog has taken a more political turn in recent years, and I am completely on board. As a sort of homage to Mr. Bittman, I plan on providing excerpts from his work, every now and then, for my readers. Below is from an October 3rd article. Let me know what you think!

I tried to ignore the month-old “Stanford study.” I really did. It made so little sense that I thought it would have little impact.

That was dumb of me, and I’m sorry.

The study, which suggested — incredibly — that there is no “strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods,” caused as great an uproar as anything that has happened, food-wise, this year...

That’s because headlines (and, of course, tweets) matter. The Stanford study was not only an exercise in misdirection, it was a headline generator. By providing “useful” and “counterintuitive” information about organic food, it played right into the hands of the news hungry while conveniently obscuring important features of organic agriculture.

If I may play with metaphor for a moment, the study was like declaring guns no more dangerous than baseball bats when it comes to blunt-object head injuries. It was the equivalent of comparing milk and Elmer’s glue on the basis of whiteness. It did, in short, miss the point. Even Crystal Smith-Spangler, a Stanford co-author, perfectly captured the narrowness of the study when she said: “some believe that organic food is always healthier and more nutritious. We were a little surprised that we didn’t find that.” That’s because they didn’t look — or even worse, they ignored.

In fact, the Stanford study — actually a meta-study, an analysis of more than 200 existing studies — does say that “consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

Since that’s largely why people eat organic foods, what’s the big deal? Especially if we refer to common definitions of “nutritious” and point out that, in general, nutritious food promotes health and good condition. How can something that reduces your exposure to pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria not be “more nutritious” than food that doesn’t?

Because the study narrowly defines “nutritious” as containing more vitamins. Dr. Dena Bravata, the study’s senior author, conceded that there are other reasons why people opt for organic (the aforementioned pesticides and bacteria chief among them) but said that if the decision between buying organic or conventional food were based on nutrients, “there is not robust evidence to choose one or the other.” By which standard you can claim that, based on nutrients, Frosted Flakes are a better choice than an apple.

Read the rest of the column here.

If you are interested in additional information about Mark Bittman's cooking and philosophy, do let me know. I plan on sharing some of my favorite seasonal recipes (modified Bittman meals!) soon.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Acupuncture Can Ease Kids' Pain

Last year, an analysis in the journal Pediatrics concluded that acupuncture was safe for kids "when performed by appropriately trained practitioners," and officials at pediatric hospitals estimate that at least a third of U.S. pain centers for children offer acupuncture.

Victoria Rust, 17, receives acupuncture treatment.
                                                  / photo courtesy Washington Post
When medicine caused stomach bleeding and had to be stopped, a doctor at Children's National Medical Center suggested acupuncture.

Rust and her mother agreed to let a physician place thin needles into her stomach and other spots; within minutes, the West Virginia high school student felt better.

"I was mellowed," she said. "The pain didn't come." Children and needles may seem an unusual pairing, but doctors say a growing number of families are choosing acupuncture.

Last year, an analysis in the journal Pediatrics concluded that acupuncture was safe for kids "when performed by appropriately trained practitioners."

Officials at pediatric hospitals estimate that at least a third of U.S. pain centers for children offer acupuncture. The federal government's National Health Interview Survey, which last asked about acupuncture in 2007, estimated that about 150,000 children were receiving needle treatment annually for conditions such as pain, migraine and anxiety.

"People will often bring it up before I bring it up," said Jennifer Anderson, an anesthesiologist at Children's who is also a licensed acupuncturist. Anderson and other doctors said acupuncture is a safe adjunct to traditional treatments. A 2008 review of studies published in the Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology cited evidence that acupuncture is effective for preventing nausea after surgery in children and for alleviating pain.

Acupuncturists often develop ways to ease children's fears, including describing the needles as little hairs.

Angela Gabriel, an acupuncturist at the Center for Integrative Medicine at George Washington University Medical Center, said some children are fearful of needles, but "by 8, 9 or 10, a lot of kids think it's cool."

As one of only a handful of Board Certified Acupuncturists in Iowa City, Rachel has completed additional training with a focus in pediatrics. If you believe your child may benefit from acupuncture, contact Rachel today. We offer sessions before and after school hours, as well as special pricing for pediatric patients.

Monday, September 24, 2012

7 Acupuncture Tips for a Healthy Fall

Fall officially began this weekend. New seasons are an opportunity to assess our states of health and realign with our natural rhythms. From an acupuncture perspective, fall is about refinement. It's time to pare down, to let go of the excesses we allowed ourselves in summer and focus on what's necessary for winter.

Even before the crisp weather this past day or two, patients are noting a change in their health and sense of well-being. As you'll read below, this is all expected and very natural when considered within the Chinese Medical framework.

In Chinese medical theory, humans are viewed as microcosms of the natural world that surrounds them. Weather and climate, particularly during the transition from one season to another, factor significantly into acupuncture diagnoses and treatment plans.

The transition into fall is especially noteworthy because it signifies moving from the more active seasons to the more passive. This has significant implications for how we feel and how we prevent and treat illness.

In acupuncture, each season is linked with a natural element, organ and emotion. The element, organ and emotion of fall are, respectively, metal, Lung and grief. These three things usher us throughout the season, serving as barometers for where we are and offering insight on how to be better.

Considering metal, Lung and grief as our guides, below are seven acupuncture tips for staying healthy this fall.

Make a list of your priorities
Fall is when we ought to embrace our metal-esque qualities: strong, definitive, focused, discerning. It is time to get down to business, to gain clarity about what really matters to us.

As satisfying as this can be, it also can be overwhelming. If I hunker down at work, how will I make time for the kids? If I focus on cooking healthy meals and eating at home to save money, how will I socialize with friends? Make a list of which priorities deserve your attention. Write them down and glance at the list periodically throughout the season.

Fall heightens our innate ability to get things done. Take advantage of it by reminding yourself where to focus.

Wear a scarf
Acupuncturists are always going on about wearing scarves. It's for good reason.

Lung, the organ associated with fall, is considered the most exterior organ. It is the first line of defense against external pathogenic factors. As the weather turns cold and the wind picks up, the Lung organ is extra vulnerable.

Further, pathogenic factors such as cold and wind invade the body at the back of the neck, so keeping that area protected is very important in the fall. Even if it's sunny, always bring a scarf when you head outside.

Acupressure self care
One of the best points for strengthening the Lung organ is Lung 7. It helps promote the descending function of the Lungs, which makes it a great point for cough, shortness of breath and nasal congestion.

Lung 7 also is one of the most effective points for neck pain and stiffness. As mentioned above, wearing a scarf helps, but for protecting yourself against any residual wind and the resulting head and neck tension, Lung 7 will come in handy.

Lung 7 is easy to access yourself. Make a thumbs-up sign. When you do that, you'll see a depression at the base of your thumb (referred to as the anatomical snuffbox). From that depression, Lung 7 is located approximately two finger widths up your arm.

Stay hydrated
Dryness of all kinds is common in fall. Since Lung is the most exterior organ, it is the organ that relates most closely to the skin. Dry skin and even rashes tend to show up in fall. Drink a lot of water and keep your skin hydrated with non-alcoholic (alcohol will dry you out more) moisturizer.

Another reason to stay hydrated is to regulate digestion. The Lung's paired organ is the Large intestine, so sometimes digestive issues can flare up this time of year. Constipation, due to the dryness of the season, is most common, especially in people who struggle with the "letting go" aspect of transitioning into fall.

Use a neti pot
As fall encourages us to let go of the inessential priorities in our lives, many of us also find ourselves letting go from our nasal passages. Bring on the tissues! Fall is the most common time of year for the onset of nasal infections and post-nasal drip, both of which plague many people well into winter. Keep a neti pot in the shower and use it regularly throughout the season to help keep your nasal passages clear. Feel free to stop by the clinic for neti pot, salts, and instructions from our staff.

Reframe grief
The emotion associated with fall is grief. This is the time of year to pull inward, to grieve letting go and to reflect on any unresolved sadness. This can be an adjustment after the surge of energy and mood that many of us experience during summer, but it is normal to feel somewhat somber and pensive in the fall. To help ease this transition, acupuncture treatments in clinic, paired with essential oil care at home provide incredible relief. 

The inability to settle into this emotional shift, or transition out of it, may suggest an imbalance. However, before labeling yourself with seasonal affective disorder, or SAD -- a common biomedical diagnosis for people who feel depressed in the colder, darker months -- consider that you may be experiencing a natural heightened awareness of grief. If you sense it might be more than that, by all means, see your doctor.

Eat warm foods
Step away from the salad! The cool, raw, refreshing salads of summer will not do you any favors come fall. Just as we need to start keeping our bodies warmer on the outside, we need to stay warm on the inside as well.

In fall, eat warm, cooked food. Instead of cold cereal with milk, choose oatmeal. Trade the salads for oven-roasted veggies over brown rice. When cooking, throw in some onions, ginger, garlic or mustard; according to Chinese medical dietary theory, these pungent foods benefit the Lung system.

Veggie wise, root vegetables such as beets, turnips, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash are ideal. If you go for out-of-season vegetables, make sure they are cooked. If you're craving fruit, reach for something seasonal such as apples, pears, grapes, figs or persimmons.

Please feel to email or call Rachel if you'd like support during this seasonal transition. Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is particularly powerful for preventative care. Wishing you a happy and healthy fall!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Study: Acupuncture Provides True Pain Relief

As many of our patients know, when acupuncture is researched in this country, some authors question the efficacy of this medicine (this is an entirely different conversation - about the appropriateness of 'sham' acupuncture and other methods that may be utilized at the control, but more on that at another time). These same patients will most likely tell you that in their experience, acupuncture DOES work, no question. Of course in order for our broader community to even be willing to try acupuncture, and for physicians to feel comfortable suggesting or supporting this approach, support through rigorous research is invaluable. Last week the NYTimes had a wonderful article about the benefits of acupuncture and pain relief. And here it is...

A new study of acupuncture — the most rigorous and detailed analysis of the treatment to date — found that it can ease migraines and arthritis and other forms of chronic pain.

The findings provide strong scientific support for an age-old therapy used by an estimated three million Americans each year. Though acupuncture has been studied for decades, the body of medical research on it has been mixed and mired to some extent by small and poor-quality studies. Financed by the National Institutes of Health and carried out over about half a decade, the new research was a detailed analysis of earlier research that involved data on nearly 18,000 patients.

The researchers, who published their results in Archives of Internal Medicine, found that acupuncture outperformed sham treatments and standard care when used by people suffering from osteoarthritis, migraines and chronic back, neck and shoulder pain.

“This has been a controversial subject for a long time,” said Dr. Andrew J. Vickers, attending research methodologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the lead author of the study. “But when you try to answer the question the right way, as we did, you get very clear answers.

“We think there’s firm evidence supporting acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pain.”

Acupuncture, which involves inserting needles at various places on the body to stimulate so-called acupoints, is among the most widely practiced forms of alternative medicine in the country and is offered by many hospitals. Most commonly the treatment is sought by adults looking for relief from chronic pain, though it is also used with growing frequency in children. According to government estimates, about 150,000 children in the United States underwent acupuncture in 2007.

But for all its popularity, questions about its efficacy have long been commonplace. Are those who swear by it experiencing true relief or the psychological balm of the placebo effect?

Dr. Vickers and a team of scientists from around the world — England, Germany, Sweden and elsewhere — sought an answer by pooling years of data. Rather than averaging the results or conclusions from years of previous studies, a common but less rigorous form of meta-analysis, Dr. Vickers and his colleagues first selected 29 randomized studies of acupuncture that they determined to be of high quality. Then they contacted the authors to obtain their raw data, which they scrutinized and pooled for further analysis. This helped them correct for statistical and methodological problems with the previous studies, allowing them to reach more precise and reliable conclusions about whether acupuncture actually works.

All told, the painstaking process took the team about six years. “Replicating pretty much every single number reported in dozens of papers is no quick or easy task,” Dr. Vickers said.

The meta-analysis included studies that compared acupuncture with usual care, like over-the-counter pain relievers and other standard medicines. It also included studies that used sham acupuncture treatments, in which needles were inserted only superficially, for example, or in which patients in control groups were treated with needles that covertly retracted into handles.

Ultimately, Dr. Vickers and his colleagues found that at the end of treatment, about half of the patients treated with true acupuncture reported improvements, compared with about 30 percent of patients who did not undergo it.

“There were 30 or 40 people from all over the world involved in this research, and as a whole the sense was that this was a clinically important effect size,” Dr. Vickers said. That is especially the case, he added, given that acupuncture “is relatively noninvasive and relatively safe.”

Dr. Vickers said the results of the study suggest that people undergoing the treatment are getting more than just a psychological boost. “They’re not just getting some placebo effect,” he said. “It’s not some sort of strange healing ritual.”

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Andrew L. Avins, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente who focuses on musculoskeletal pain and preventive medicine, wrote that the relationship between conventional medical care “and the world of complementary and alternative medicine remains ambiguous.” But at least in the case of acupuncture, he wrote, the new study provides “robust evidence” that it provides “modest benefits over usual care for patients with diverse sources of chronic pain.”

How has acupuncture worked for you? Join our discussion via Facebook or online testimonials!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Seasonal Allergies: Acupuncture & Herbal Treatments

Q: My allergies kick into high gear in the fall. Antihistamines and over-the-counter medications make me drowsy. What can I try that is more natural to stop my seasonal allergy symptoms? 

A: It’s early fall. Harvest is starting, the sun is shining and the an extra dry summer breeze is scattering seeds … and pollen, and dust. Allergy season begins again! 

While many over-the-counter medications offer temporary relief, an increasing number of allergy sufferers are exploring natural allergy remedies that have longer lasting results and none of the troubling side effects associated with Western drugs. 

Natural medicine, herbs, and diet can alleviate or prevent allergies and asthma in four ways: 
• Controlling inflammation of air passages
• Dilating air passages
• Thinning mucus in the lungs
• Preventing food-allergy reactions that can trigger respiratory allergies and asthma 

How can you incorporate these benefits into your life? 
Try acupuncture and herbal medicine! TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) has been used to treat allergies for hundreds of years. Several studies confirm that acupuncture and herbal medicine are helpful for allergic conditions such as asthma, eczema, and food allergies. 

In a study published in Allergy, 52 people with allergic rhinitis were randomly assigned acupuncture treatments and Chinese herbal tea or sham acupuncture and herbs for six weeks. Nearly 85 percent of those people receiving real acupuncture and herbs had 100 percent or significant improvement of their symptoms, versus 40 percent of those getting the placebo treatment. 

Spice it up: Spicy dishes can thin mucus secretions and clear nasal passages. Try adding cayenne pepper or ginger to your foods. Ginger is a natural antihistamine and decongestant. It may provide some relief from allergy symptoms by dilating constricted bronchial tubes.

Eat the right fat: Omega-3 essential fatty acids can counter the formation of chemicals that cause inflammation of the air passages. Good natural sources include flaxseed oil and salmon. Our clinic also offers high quality fish oil capsules that provide these very benefits.

Increase fiber and 'good' bacteria: Food intolerances seem to be connected with seasonal allergies. A healthy and active colon can decrease food sensitivity, which can, in turn, lighten the burden on your immune system and may reduce the impact of seasonal allergies. For maximum colon health, increase the fiber in your diet and consider probiotics. The active cultures in probiotics restores the balance between good and bad bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. At Health On Point, we special order probiotics for our patients. If making the purchase on your own, be sure that your product offers not only high dose but a variety of bacteria, is stored in a dark jar, and must be refrigerated.

An apple a day: Some foods, including apples, contain the flavanoid, quersetin that can cross-react with tree pollen. Quercetin can reduce allergic reactions by having an antihistamine effect. It also decreases inflammation. Quercetin is found naturally in certain foods, such as apples (with the skin on), berries, red grapes, red onions, capers, and black tea. Our clinic all sells an incredible herbal formula that contains quercetin - MANY of our patients swear by it!

Go orange: Carotenoids are a family of plant pigments, the most popular being beta-carotene. Although no randomized controlled trials show that carotenoids are effective treatments for hay fever, a lack of carotenoids in the diet is thought to promote inflammation in your airways. Good sources of carotenoids include foods easily found in our yards or local markets - carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, spinach, kale, butternut squash, and collard greens. If you feel you are lacking in orange foods, I'm happy to suggest some wonderful recipes!

As always, if you are interested in preventing or managing your seasonal allergies, please call or email Rachel. At Health on Point, we work with a protocol and variety of formulas to meet our individual patient's needs. Call to schedule your appointment today (319) 331 9312. Mention this article and receive 5% discount on your allergy treatment now through October 12!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Common Side Effects of Acupuncture

Forget what you've been told. Acupuncture DOES have side effects. The unintended consequences of acupuncture, while not life-threatening, should not be overlooked. Side effects of acupuncture occur frequently and can seriously impact on your quality of life - for the better.

Here are the five most common side effects of acupuncture. (Consider yourself warned!)

Improved sleep
Insomnia is one of the most common complaints seen by acupuncturists, and acupuncture can be highly effective at resolving it. But even in people who do not recognize or mention sleep as a problem, acupuncture has a tendency to produce more restful nights. This often goes unnoticed until asked about on a follow-up visit. Many acupuncturists hear this refrain multiple times a day: "You know, now that you mention it, I have been sleeping a lot better since I started coming for acupuncture."

More energy
Although it's common to find yourself in "acu land" -- a somewhat dazed, blissfully-relaxed state -- immediately following acupuncture treatment, the after effect is usually increased energy. Many people report having more energy in the hours, days and even weeks after acupuncture treatment. You may notice that you're avoiding that post-lunch coma, feeling more motivated to hit the gym, or just sensing a little extra spring in your step.

Mental clarity
Acupuncture can help resolve the stagnation that causes many of us to feel physically and mentally lethargic. In addition to the surge of physical energy that follows emerging from acu land, many people notice improved mental clarity. They're able to make decisions faster, with greater confidence. They feel more motivated and resolute about tackling items that have been lingering for months on their to-do lists. It's as if the mental cobwebs have been cleared out. Suddenly, you're able to get out of your own way.

Better digestion
Digestion is big in acupuncture. The organ systems and meridians that regulate digestion are intimately connected to all other structures and functions throughout the body, so a person's digestive health says a lot about his or her overall state of health. This is why acupuncturists ask such detailed questions about eating habits and bowel movements. It's also why getting acupuncture for shoulder pain, for example, might cause you to use the bathroom more regularly, feel less bloated after meals, and experience fewer food cravings.

Less stress
Stress reduction is a common reason for seeking acupuncture. However, not everyone admits or even feels that they have stress in their life. They've gotten so used to living with a certain level of stress that it has become their "normal." It's only in the absence of stress that they notice how stressed out they were to begin with. Acupuncture heightens our awareness such that stressful events, initially, can actually be felt more acutely. But over time, by evening out our moods, acupuncture allows us to feel less affected by and better equipped to manage the stressful aspects of our lives.

So there you have it. The truth, once and for all: Acupuncture has side effects that may significantly influence your quality of life. If you are new to acupuncture, or are in the mood for a tune up, these are five great reasons to schedule your next visit at Health On Point!

Monday, August 6, 2012

'Wireless' Acupuncture - What do YOU think?

World Renowned Inventor, Donald Spector, Develops Patent For Wireless Electric Acupuncture Patches. Patch Will Increase Muscle Performance in Addition to Alleviating Pain Resolved by Acupuncture Needles
Many patients at Health On Point know the benefits not only of treatment while in clinic, but between sessions at home. When appropriate, we send patients home with adhesive patches with pointy studs on the underside, that continuously exert pressure on acupuncture points when applied to the skin. This new invention, in contrast, uses an electrical current to provide stimulation – and it only does so when instructed. This could be through direct finger contact on the patch, by wireless remote control, or even via a schedule that is programmed into a chip within the patch.

The consumer version of the patch would be disposable, with the idea that users would wear it continuously between visits to an acupuncturist. What do YOU think about this potential modern shift in therapy for patients?

Donald Spector, a well-known serial entrepreneur inventor, has filed a groundbreaking patent on wireless acupuncture patches. The patches will cause electrical stimulation, either directly or by remote control, to specific acupuncture points and muscles. This stimulation will increase the muscle performance, as well as reducing lactic acid buildup and consequently reducing fatigue.

Spector stated, "While the patch provides benefits to athletes, it can also be used by patients suffering from pain and other ailments, for which acupuncture has been effective."

Dr. Mohammad Hashemipour, MD, PhD, Dean of Academic Affairs and former Olympic Team doctor, believes the new wireless electric acupuncture patch technology can reduce muscle fatigue and subsequently enhance muscle performance.

"Patients often forget or do not use acupuncture in a consistent way," stated Hashemipour. "While duplicating the advantages of leads that are temporarily connected to a patient, these patches can be left on for a prolonged period of time, including between visitations to an acupuncture specialist, during which time the chips can be programmed to stimulate at predetermined times or when needed."

There has yet to be a formal ruling on whether these patches, which may enhance sports performance, will be regulated by boxing commissions, team sports, individual sports or doping commissions. Based on current Olympic regulations, Hashemipour feels it will not be banned.

"Even though these patches will provide a significant advantage in muscle strength and endurance, I do not believe they should be outlawed under doping regulations. There are no drugs involved, except by the release of the wearer's own natural chemicals and neurotransmitters. While acupuncture has been used in the Far East for thousands of years, this patent simply makes it possible for an athlete to use electrical stimulation - often cumbersome - as a self-contained patch that can be made as a disposable product," added Hashemipour.

"The remote control aspect is extremely interesting in sports," stated Pamintaun, "The coach can stimulate muscle when the player is between periods or on the bench, between games, or a boxer is between rounds or in a time of inactivity. These can also be used on different muscles and muscle groups that are stimulated during different parts of a game, like serving in tennis versus receiving. Just as our whole world is changing with microchips, even the traditions of thousands of years can become part of the computer age."

Monday, July 30, 2012


Olympian and world vault champion McKayla Maroney from Long Beach, California cites using acupuncture as a helpful tool for injury recovery. Maroney re-injured a toe that was broken at an Olympic training session in Chicago two months ago. She noted, “On my beam routine, my round-off dismount, I split my big right toe.” She added that this is the third time she has injured the toe. Maroney said, “I’m doing acupuncture and icing it like 30 times a day.” Maroney stated, “It looks a lot better now.” According to the USA women’s coordinator, Maroney will compete in the vault and may forego the floor exercise competition as a precautionary measure.

The use of acupuncture by USA Olympians is not unusual. In the last summer Olympics, Gymnast Nastia Liukin took home the gymnastics women’s all-around Olympic gold medal after using acupuncture to recover from an ankle injury. Pole vaulter Jeremy Scott used acupuncture to help in the recovery of his knee and will be competing this year. Tennessee track and field Olympian Dee Dee Trotter trained extensively with the help of acupuncture and will compete in the London Summer Olympics. Five-time Olympian from Austin, Texas Amy Acuff cites the use of acupuncture as one of the reasons why she has lasted for many years in the injury prone sport of high jump. She will go for the gold in London... but that’s not all! Amy Acuff is not only an enduring Olympic athlete but is also a licensed acupuncturist.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Acupuncture at the Games

Acupuncture makes another strong showing at the Olympic Games. Dr. Bret Moldenhauer, an acupuncturist from Chattanooga (Tennessee), will travel to the Olympics with world class runner and Team USA Olympian, Dee Dee Trotter. As her personal acupuncturist, he brought his acupuncture equipment to the track and treated Dee Dee Trotter on the spot during training. In pole vaulting, Team USA Olympian Jeremy Scott sailed through Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon. Acupuncture is included in his regime of care for the treatment of his knee.

Another acupuncturist is returning to the Olympics as a competitor! The London Olympics will be Amy Acuff’s fifth time on the USA Olympic team. A licensed acupuncturist in Austin, Texas; she attributes some of her long-term success in the sport of high jump to acupuncture. She notes that high jump is an injury-prone sport and that acupuncture is successful in the prevention and recovery from injuries.

Team USA isn’t the only Olympic team to benefit from acupuncture. The South Korean Olympic team has a successful history using acupuncture. Volleyball player Kim Yeon-koung notes that acupuncture boosts her performance capabilities. Men’s handball player Park Jung-geu notes that acupuncture provides rapid recoveries from sporting injuries.

Here in Iowa City, many of our patients utilized services at Health On Point to prepare themselves for the RAGBRAI which started on Sunday. Whether you're cycling or supporting local riders - everyone deserves a break and some rejuvenation. Come on by - specials are available for Ragbrai participants!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Research: Acupuncture Treats Fibromyalgia (Adult and Juvenile)

At Health On Point, we frequently see members of our community struggling with fibromyalgia (FMS).  Fibromyalgia is a medical condition involving pain, increased sensitivity to stimuli and fatigue. Other symptoms frequently include sleep disturbances, joint stiffness, digestive complaints, numbness, tingling, headaches, anxiety and impaired cognition. The overall presentation of fibromyalgia is that of body-wide pain and tenderness. New research published in Clinical Rheumatology concludes that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of fibromyalgia. In this new study, researchers find that acupuncture provides “beneficial effects” for the treatment of fibromyalgia.

Other studies support the same conclusions as those reached in this recent modern research.

Acupuncture for FMS
In a study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (Baltimore), researchers conclude that “real acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture for improving symptoms of patients with FMS.” In another study published by the Department of Anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester (Minnesota), researchers conclude, “We found that acupuncture significantly improved symptoms of fibromyalgia. Symptomatic improvement was not restricted to pain relief and was most significant for fatigue and anxiety.” Lastly, a study in Brasil maintains: "Acupuncture is a traditional chinese medi-cine modality that can be used in pediatric patients with fibromyalgia."

If you or a loved one suffers from symptoms of FMS, contact us to schedule a complimentary phone consult or introductory session. Working together, we will build an individualized treatment plan to ease your discomfort.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Don’t sweat it: Acupuncture treats excessive perspiration

Whether it’s stifling, humid conditions, vigorous exercise or plain old stress that’s the trigger, trickles or torrents of sweat streaming from the body will undoubtedly follow.

From cool beads dribbling from foreheads to the damp trails on chests, backs and underarms, the outbreak of patches of perspiration in response to anxiety, warm weather or workouts is inevitable. Yet some people cope with even more extreme amounts of sweat.

Primary hyperhidrosis may have a genetic or hereditary link and is typically characterized by excessive sweating of various regions of the body, including feet, hands, under breasts, the groin and armpits. When the cause of excessive sweating is correlated to another disorder — such as hyperthyroidism or menopause — it’s known as secondary hyperhidrosis.

“Basically, if your sweating is enough that it interferes with your daily activities of your life, you probably have hyperhidrosis,” Dr. Nowell Solish, a Toronto-based cosmetic dermatologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto.

“It’s not sweating when you exercise and work out — it’s sweating all the time. Even in the winter, even when you’re home watching TV.”

Those with hyperhidrosis may have to change shirts repeatedly within a day, avoid raising arms in public or steer clear of shaking people’s hands due to excessive sweating, Solish noted. He said the condition’s cause remains unknown.

“It’s probably something in the brain, we don’t know exactly for sure,” said Solish. “The glands are normal. It’s just they’re being signalled to sweat when they don’t need to be.

“We think it’s probably some signal from the brain coming down, or that the glands are too sensitive to the signal that they’re sweating more than they’re needed to maintain normal temperature and water control.”

One of the treatments for hyperhidrosis is Botox. When used for cosmetic or medical reasons — like smoothing fine lines in the face — Botox blocks the signal from the nerve to the muscle to move.

“If you put Botox around the sweat gland, even if the nerve is signalling it to sweat, the signal doesn’t reach the sweat gland, and you don’t sweat as much,” said Solish.

There are safer alternative treatments to address hyperhidrosis.

Many people come to Health On Point in search of a non-invasive treatment approach to not just address sweating, but its core cause. We find that emotional issues like stress or anxiety are common triggers — especially if it’s a secondary hyperhidrosis. Sometimes an autoimmune condition is to blame. All of these things acupuncture can help — not just the symptom of sweating, but addressing the root cause of the hyperhidrosis.

First, we encourage our patients to ensure hyperhidrosis is diagnosed with their doctor. We also recommend blood work and testing to rule out certain root causes, such as a thyroid hormone issue.
Acupuncture can be beneficial by helping to balance overstimulated nerves and prevent them from being overactive. That, in turn, helps to reduce sweating and aid the body to regulate temperature.
We typically recommend patients participate in eight to 10 acupuncture sessions that can be combined with herbs.

For those looking to keep bacteria and bad odors at bay, they may consider opting for an herbal astringent. We recommend placing a couple of drops of an essential oil into a spray bottle with filtered water. The concoction can be used as a body splash following a shower or bath or throughout the day as needed, she noted. Both rosemary and tea tree oils have antifungal and antibacterial properties, and are available in clinic (as well as directions and a home 'recipe' for this remedy).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Research: Acupuncture For Depression

New research concludes that acupuncture is an effective monotherapy for major depressive disorder. Researchers from the Depression Clinical Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston) cited prior research as the basis for this investigation. The researchers note, “We have previously shown that a standardized acupuncture augmentation was effective for antidepressant partial responders with major depressive disorder (MDD).” In a follow-up investigation, the researchers examined the safety and efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of depression as a stand alone therapy.

Acupuncture for Depression
Patients in the study received 8 weeks of acupuncture, 1-2 times per week, with each treatment lasting 30 minutes. A choice of 5 acupuncture points were included in the study. Manual stimulation was applied every 10 minutes to the acupuncture points and electroacupuncture at 2 Hz was applied to acupoints on the head. Based on the results, the researchers concluded that, “Standardized acupuncture treatment was safe, well-tolerated and effective, suggesting good feasibility in outpatient settings.”

More Research
Prior research at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston) demonstrated that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of clinical depression for patients who are non-responsive to conventional pharmaceutical antidepressant therapies. The study researched the ability of acupuncture to augment conventional antidepressant therapy and concluded that acupuncture is an effective adjunct to antidepressants for both partial and non-responders.

Additional recent research reveals that electroacupuncture has an antidepressant effect and prevents atrophy of brain cells. Researchers measured that electroacupuncture prevents atrophy of glial cells in the hippocampus, a portion of the brain. They note that mounting data shows major depressive disorder is linked to glial cell atrophy. The researchers posit that the antidepressant effect of electroacupuncture may be due to its ability to prevent “glial atrophy in the hippocampus.” In the study, electroacupuncture was applied to acupoints Du20 (BaiHui) and AnMian at a rate of once per day for a period of three weeks. The antidepressant effects were quantified and the protective effects of electroacupuncture on brain cells was measured by “immunohistochemistry, Western blot analysis and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.”

Additional new research concludes that acupuncture is effective in relieving depression and increases the therapeutic effect of fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Fontex). In the study, electroacupuncture was applied to acupuncture points: Baihui (DU20), Yintang (EX-HN3), Sishencong (EX-HN1), Toulinqi (GB15), Shuaigu (GB8), Taiyang (EX-HN5), Touwei (ST8). The researchers demonstrated that electroacupuncture produces a “rapid effect in alleviating depressive symptoms in both clinician-rated (HAMD-17) and self-rated (SDS) measures of depression.” The investigators conclude that electroacupuncture is effective in augmenting the antidepressant effects of fluoxetine for the treatment of moderate and severe major depressive disorder.

Abstract and full text for this pilot study may be found online.

Those interested in using acupuncture to address depression and emotional well-being should contact Health On Point to schedule a consultation and session. We are happy to provide complete care for our community here in Iowa City.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Acupuncture Speeds Baby Delivery - New Labor Research

New research demonstrates that acupuncture is safe and effective for reducing the time needed to deliver a baby. Researchers from the China Meitan General Hospital conclude “EA (electroacupuncture) at Sanyinjiao (acupoint SP6) can shorten the duration of the active phase of the 1st labor stage.” In addition, they found electroacupuncture is safe for both mother and the baby.

A random single-blind method was used in the clinical investigation. A total of 111 women were divided into three groups: non-treatment group, electroacupuncture at SP6 group, sham acupuncture group. The sham acupuncture group received stimulation at SP6 with an acupuncture needle guide tube and an acupuncture needle remained at the acupoint using an adhesive plaster.

Blood pressure and heart rate for both mothers and the babies were recorded during labor. No statistical differences in blood pressure or heart rates were demonstrated. In addition, no additional bleeding after labor occurred in the electroacupuncture group. Electroacupuncture shortened both the active phase and the latent phase of the first stage of labor. As a result, the researchers determine that acupuncture is a safe and effective method for shortening the duration of the first stage of labor.

If you are expecting and would like pregnancy or pre-labor support, please contact us for a consultation and to schedule a visit. Our clinic offers personalized care for parents to be.

Details about the study may be found online here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Community Acupuncture starts on May 26th!

Just a reminder that Acupuncture Happy Hour at Health on Point will begin during Memorial Weekend on Saturday, May 26th. Feel free to contact us and let us know if you plan on attending. Walk-ins are also welcomed!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Discounted acupuncture for our community!

On Saturday, May 19th, Health On Point will offer selected treatments during the downtown Iowa City Farmers' Market. Conveniently located across from the market, clinic treatments will be available indoors and expand to the courtyard (as weather permits). Included with treatment is specially compounded herbal tea for the season. New to acupuncture or a regular? Join us! Feel free to call and schedule a time slot, but walk-ins are welcomed! 

We look forward to providing affordable treatments for our supportive community. Have a Happy spring with acupuncture happy hour!

Research: Ear Acupuncture Benefits The Heart

Researchers have discovered that auricular acupuncture benefits the heart by increasing heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is the body’s ability to regulate the time interval between heart beats and is an index of the body’s ability to maintain control of the heart beat rate and rhythm through vagus nerve activity. A lowering of HRV is found in unhealthy and highly stressed individuals. Acupuncture’s ability to raise HRV is of importance because reduced HRV is linked to mortality after myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, diabetic neuropathy and low survival rates in premature babies. A reduction of HRV is also common in patients with PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome) and for individuals with increased heart rates due to stress.

Acupuncture’s ability to raise HRV was measured using electrocardiograms (ECGs) and an HRV Mediolog AR12 system. The evidence-based research concludes that “HRV changes significantly during auricular acupuncture…” and that “HRV total increases during auricular acupuncture….” The research team, based in China and Austria, measured significant increases in HRV when needling Ear-Shenmen (earpoint: Heart). Ear-Shenmen is located on the external ear at the bifurcating point between the superior and inferior antihelix crus at the lateral third of the triangular fossa. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ear-Shenmen is used for sedation, relaxing the mind, pain relief and clearing the heart.

Researchers from the International Society for Autonomic Neuroscience discovered similar results last year. They measured that needling acupuncture point CV17 increases HRV. They concluded that acupuncture at CV17 “causes the modulation of cardiac autonomic function.” The research measured the mechanism by which acupuncture at CV17 is able to activate the autonomic nervous system to control the heart rate by increasing vagal activity.
For references to this article, contact us!
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