Monday, January 28, 2013

Acupuncture Beats Drugs for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Acupuncture combined with moxibustion is more effective than conventional ‘western’ medicine for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A new meta-analysis of 11 research investigations with a sample size of over 950 patients shows that acupuncture with moxibustion leads to better clinical outcomes than conventional pharmaceutical drug therapy. In addition, the study shows that acupuncture combined with moxibustion is not only effective but is also safe. The researchers conclude, “Acupuncture-moxibustion for irritable bowel syndrome is better than the conventional western medication treatment.”

This is not the first time Chinese medicine has been shown effective for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. The Journal of the American Medical Association made an impact in the western world with its ground breaking publication of findings showing that Chinese herbal medicine “offer(s) improvements in symptoms for some patients with IBS.” This early study used the modern standards of investigation now commonly employed in acupuncture and herbal medicine studies. It was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Gastroenterologists worked in combination with herbalists but both groups were blinded to the treatment group. The study discovered that Chinese herbal medicine improved patients’ health with irritable bowel syndrome including significant improvements documented 14 weeks after completion of the herbal medicine treatments.

Clinical Highlights
One effective herbal formula used for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome is Shu Gan Wan. Often referred to as soothe the liver pills, this formula is known for its ability to prevent Liver Qi stagnation from attacking the Spleen and Stomach. This syndrome is indicated by abdominal discomfort and gas, bloating, hiccups, belching, abdominal pain, erratic stools and poor digestion. In some cases, hypoglycemia or ulcerative gastritis develops. This syndrome is common when emotional, physical and dietary stresses cause stomach and digestive upset. Irritability and anger during or after eating is a common example of when Liver Qi stagnation attacks the Stomach and Spleen. This is why Chinese medicine doctors often recommend not reading the newspaper during meals or eating in rush or under pressure.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Recipes: A Seasonal Tune-up

This week I'd like to highlight a recent entry from one of my favorite sites. As many patients at Health On Point know, my mom is a food blogger - and is passionate about her work. Earlier in the month she shared a story and recipe for one of my favorite wintertime treats - Ginger Brew.
As we've talked about this season, tis the season for colds and flu. While this often worsens during late autumn, excitement - and stress - of the holidays often leave us with lingering sniffling and coughing (and too many used Kleenex!). I have a dear friend who served in the PeaceCorps in Africa, and this was a recipe from her time there. 
Ginger has been used for centuries for its healing properties – it warms the stomach for digestion and rids the body of throat and nasal congestion. 
This recipe may be doubled or tripled if you want a more substantial amount of the concentrate. Basically, just combine the ingredients for this recipe, let it steep a bit at room temp or warmer in the sun. Then store in the refrigerator. Pour about two ounces in a large tea mug and fill it with seven ounces of boiling water. Believe me, this stops nagging coughs and congestion! 

If you make this in the summer, it can be diluted with ice water, or added to sparkling water or even juice. It is heavy on the ginger flavor (translate as “peppery” or spicy) so if you aren’t a ginger lover, use less concentrate.

Ginger Brew Ingredients
Yield: 2 cups of concentrate which makes about 8 glasses of tea or cold brew

• 1 cup boiling water
• 3 Tbsp fresh grated ginger (I don’t peel it)
• 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
• 7 whole cloves
• 1 cinnamon stick (2 ½ inches long)
• 1 lime, squeezed (use the juice only)
• ½ juice orange, squeezed (use the juice only)
• 1 cup cold water

Pour boiling water over the grated ginger, sugar, cloves and cinnamon Stir, cover and keep in a glass bowl or measuring cup and place in a warm place covered for an hour. If it is sunny, put it on the window sill. This time of year I keep it in a warm oven (90 degrees).

After the hour, strain the liquid through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Add the lime juice, orange juice and cold water. Again, keep the mix in a glass container and cover it, then keep it in a warm place for another hour. Strain the liquid and don’t pour the sediment at the bottom of the container through the strainer-discard it. The mix should be pretty clear.

Store covered in the refrigerator. This will keep for 7-10 days. Freeze for longer storage.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Acupuncture Benefits (Final Part!)

At last! The final installation of our top 13 in 2013. We would love to hear from you - what do you hope to gain from acupuncture this year?

9. It will help you embrace change.
Conventional medicine requires us to think in absolutes, to label things good or bad, black or white. We're either sick or we're healthy. Our numbers are too high or too low. We're happy or we're depressed. Yet in between these extremes, subtle yet significant shifts occur. Acupuncture works in this gray area and teaches us to reflect on the small changes happening within and around us all the time. In acupuncture, this is progress.
Unwillingness to accept change is a huge source of stress and anxiety for many people. Through reframing change as a marker of progress rather than something to be scared of, you will learn to love it.

10. It will give you something to talk about at parties.
Acupuncture is a crowd pleaser! Next time you're feeling awkward or bored at a social gathering, mention that you recently had acupuncture. You'll be an instant sensation. People love learning about acupuncture.Did it hurt? Did she stick them in your eyes? People also love sharing their own acupuncture experiences, so it's a quick way find common ground and make friends.

11. It will make you more patient.
We loooove technology. Whether it's the latest product from Apple or a cutting-edge MRI, we lust after shiny tools that promise to make us better. Technology, while awesome, acclimates us to quick fixes and perpetuates an "I want it now" mentality. This creates chronic impatience.
Acupuncture, because it works but rarely overnight, can help us combat this. Acupuncture is an ongoing process that requires an investment of time and a willingness to let go of our desire for instant gratification. It will make you a more patient person.

12. It will make you tough.
It's not always easy to embrace acupuncture. Most doctors, as well as some family, friends and colleagues, regard mainstream medicine as the only acceptable form of health care. The constant barrage of pharmaceutical advertising is hard to ignore. It takes courage to go against the grain.
Acupuncture, although becoming more popular, is still not the norm. It requires a conscious commitment to understanding ourselves in a way that the majority shuns. This is the harder path toward health but ultimately the most rewarding.

13. It will make you believe in yourself.
The driving idea behind acupuncture is that we're already in possession of everything we need to be well. Acupuncture does not add or subtract anything. Rather, it prompts the body to do what it already knows how to do. It reminds you that you have the power to heal yourself.
This does not mean that external interventions such as pharmaceuticals or surgery should always be shunned -- in many cases, these are life-saving measures. But it does mean that becoming healthier, whatever that means to you, is within your control. When it comes to improving our physical and emotional health, most of us are capable of a lot more than we think. By using a therapy like acupuncture, which embraces rather than ignores our innate healing capacity, you're making a statement that you believe in yourself.

Wishing you a transformative 2013!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Acupuncture Benefits (Part 2)

Last week, we began to discuss how acupuncture helps us see the world differently. Today we will continue to highlight five more ways that acupuncture may benefit YOU in 2013.

4. It can help give you 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.

5. It will clear your head.
In addition to the surge of physical energy that follows emerging from acu land, many people notice improved mental clarity after acupuncture. 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 will be out of your own way.

6. It will allow you to give yourself a break.
Acupuncture looks at how root imbalances affect the whole system. This means that when one thing is out of whack, it can affect you in multiple ways. Many of us are quick to beat ourselves up when we can't muster energy for something that used to come easy, or when we fail to accomplish all the things we "should" be doing.
By thinking of yourself as a complex, interconnected system, it becomes easier to understand why you might be feeling incomplete or depleted. Acupuncture broadens your awareness of the things that can potentially influence your physical and emotional health. This, hopefully, will help you be a little kinder to yourself.

7. It can help you sleep.
Insomnia is one of the most common complaints seen by acupuncturists, and acupuncture can be highly effective at helping 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."

8. It will get you thinking differently about food.
Whether you're Paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, or free of any restrictions, acupuncture will lend some interesting perspective to your food choices. In acupuncture, foods often are thought about in terms of temperature. Some people, because of their constitutions or root imbalances, need warming foods while others need foods that cool. And this can change significantly based on the seasons. Everyone is different. Acupuncture dietary theory sheds light on why some people can eat certain foods and feel unaffected while others can't even look in their direction.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

We're excited at Health On Point to start 2013 explaining how acupuncture works and sharing acupuncture-inspired tips for leading a healthier, simpler, more meaningful life. Acupuncture helps us see the world differently -- with more hope, openness, intention, gratitude, compassion, patience and clarity. In doing so, it changes us.

Here are 13 specific ways that acupuncture can change your life in 2013.

1. It will open your mind.
Acupuncture requires us to think about health in entirely new ways. Despite noble efforts by many to find one, there is no biomedical equivalent for qi or meridians. Acupuncture turns mainstream medical tenets on their head. It will remind you that there are multiple ways of seeing the world.

2. It can help make you less stressed.
Acupuncture takes the edge off. It removes you from the perpetual state of sympathetic dominance in which so many of us find ourselves. By mellowing out the nervous system, acupuncture can help you feel less affected by and better equipped to manage the stressful aspects of life.

3. It will inspire you to get outside more.
In acupuncture theory, humans are viewed as microcosms of the natural world that surrounds them. Things like weather and seasonal shifts factor significantly into acupuncture diagnoses and treatment plans. When you start thinking about health in this way, realizing the intimate relationship that humans have with nature, it inspires a desire to get outside and commune with your natural habitat.

Look to the next few weeks as we reveal ten more ways you can benefit from acupuncture....
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