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."

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