Medical Topics

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Feb 232017
 

New Guidelines Say Exercise, Yoga, and Acupuncture Beat Medications for Back Pain.

Other article links on this blog about acupuncture and back pain.

Feb 232017
 

Smell Test Outperforms Brain Imaging in Predicting Dementia

Research showing the link between loss of sense of smell and Alzheimer’s disease dates back as far as 2002, with this small study showing a “classification accuracy of 95%”. Sounds like an easy, low-cost tool that the medical community should routinely use to help patients and their families prepare to prevent and/or treat this increasingly common health tragedy!

Please note that natural medicine, especially including nutritional support1 (which is much more comprehensive than just your ‘diet’ and what you food you eat), exercise2, and Traditional Chinese Medicine3, all offer many benefits for preventing dementia.

References:

1 Dr. Daniel Weber’s 2012 Health Research Report on Dementia/Alzheimer’s
2 Expert panel achieved consensus on the following statement: “Regular participation in physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease…”
3 Review Article: Traditional Chinese Medicine for Senile Dementia

A sampling of Traditional Chinese herbal formulas for brain and cognitive function.

Aug 102016
 
CuppingInChengdu_2000

Cupping Therapy is a tool I use almost daily in my office along with acupuncture treatments. I primarily use it on certain types of pain, or for post-stroke syndrome (i.e., paralysis), but it can be used to ‘release the exterior’ (as we say in TCM) for an upper respiratory infection, for COPD (especially phlegm in the lungs), and many other health conditions. Research on Cupping Therapy:
Effectiveness of Cupping Therapy on Chronic Neck and Shoulder Pain

Photo Credit: Sheryl Sanchez, L.Ac., in Chengdu, China, 2000.
P.S. Don’t let the photo frighten you, it is a completely painless technique – it just looks a bit odd at first glance! Most patients love the procedure and especially the results – pain reduction!!

Aug 102016
 
CuppingInChengdu_2000

This is a very good article about the benefits of Cupping Therapy:
Have a Stubborn Injury? Cupping Therapy May Help

This is another article about Cupping Therapy by a teacher and scholar in the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) published in the August 2016 of Mayway Corporation’s Newsletter. (Mayway Corporation is the manufacturer of the Plum Flower brand, a premier traditional Chinese herbal line of formulas, which I use in my office). This article is geared towards the TCM professional, but may be of interest to the public:
Ancient Art of Cupping

Photo Credit: Sheryl Sanchez, L.Ac., in Chengdu, China, 2000.

Jul 192016
 
AcupFoot

People’s Pharmacy, a National Public Radio (NPR) program, had their latest weekly show (on 7/14/16) about Acupuncture entitled How Acupuncture Can Help You Overcome Health Challenges. In this particular program, they highlight newly published research on acupuncture benefiting menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes (aka vasomotor symptoms) and answer basic questions about acupuncture.

The mission of People’s Pharmacy is “Empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.”1, which is completely in line with my philosophy of healthcare! People’s Pharmacy is one of my favorite NPR programs, and I listen to it on my local NPR station, KCHO, or North State Public Radio.

Reference:
1 http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/about

Jul 062016
 
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Here’s a ‘Simple Marinade’ recipe I use often in the summer to grill vegetables. This recipe includes rosemary, oregano, basil and garlic – culinary spices that are amongst the top 10 antioxidant-containing spices (or herbs!) to use while grilling meat (or vegetables) to protect against creating carcinogenic compounds.1
Simple Marinade

For more information on safe grilling, see this Safe Grilling Guide from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

1Prevent Grilled Food from Charring Your Health. Includes another yummy sounding marinade – using cherries!

Jun 092016
 

Brief article written in June 2016 about how acupuncture is beginning to play a role in reducing opioid use for chronic pain and also how acupuncture can help with opiate addiction.

One quote from this article regarding one study the US Department of Veterans Affairs conducted:
“By 2011, after employing acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage therapy, biofeedback and hypnosis among other things, the prescription narcotics consumed by the soldiers fell by 88% to 10.2%.”

Read more: Opioid Crisis Tamed Through Ancient Secret?

Jun 092016
 

I am a big proponent of a gluten-free diet due to all the chronic health issues it may cause. Going gluten-free myself years ago helped my health tremendously, and it was specifically atopic dermatitis or eczema that lead me down this road of healing. This is a great article on the subject of gluten in our diets, the damage it causes in our gut, and the many skin diseases it may cause (from one of my favorite blogs on CAM and natural medicine):

Gluten Skin, or the Gut-Skin Axis

For more information on this topic, search my blog for “gluten” for articles I have written on this topic also.

Mar 302016
 

Here’s an article about one of my favorite Chinese herbs:
The Cold Remedy That Actually Works!

Here’s more links about this herb on my blog:
Top Chinese Herb for Immune System Support

Sep 292015
 

Acupuncture Cools Hot Flashes

I see Gabapentin, aka Neurontin, typically prescribed for diabetic peripheral neuropathy, or post-herpetic neuralgia (nerve pain), or more so nowadays, any type of pain. Anyhow, it has also been prescribed by some doctors to relieve the hot flashes associated with menopause (although this use was advised against by the FDA in 2013 ). Anyhow, this is another study showing how acupuncture will benefit hot flashes. In this research, acupuncture was used specifically on patients who had “treatment-related hot flashes”. This means that patients were taking pharmaceutical medications such as Tamoxifen and Arimidex (because they were diagnosed with Estrogen-Receptor Positive (ER-Positive) breast cancer), which results in hot flashes.

NOTE: See that the direct link to the MedScape article above does not work unless you log into MedScape unfortunately. But you can search for the title above on MedScape and find the article easily (or logging in anyway will take you directly to the article).

Aug 202015
 

Just started carrying this product in my office: Nutricology’s Caricol® Papaya Concentrate. I have had many patients throughout the years who have had great results using papaya, or its main active ingredient, papain for digestive complaints. Papain is a known digestive enyzme, and is in many natural digestive enzyme products nowadays (including another product I have carried for years).

So this specific product caught my attention, because:
1. It is a liquid, papaya concentrate “made from the pulp of certified organic, GMO-free, tree-ripened papaya”
2. The papain is “naturally concentrated by means of a propriety production process which originated at the Lotus Buddhist Monastery, Big Island, Hawaii”, and
3. The company notes on the box that “a portion of the proceeds from your purchase will be donated to the monastery” that originated this process.

After learning all this, I thought this is a product I can get behind! For specific details on this product, including research relating to its effects on IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), constipation and diarrhea, see: Caricol.com. More information can be found at the distributor’s site, Nutricology.

Other interesting info about papain is that it has been used for years in meat tenderizer products, was sold in topical preparations in the past for wound debridement (removing dead tissue)1, and has been used as a home remedy for insect bites and stings2.

References
1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papain
2: http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2010/08/02/meat-tenderizer-for-pain-of-sting”

Jul 292015
 

The latest issue (July 2015) of Dr. Julian Whitaker’s Health and Healing Newsletter (article not available online) has an article about back pain. It discusses the pros and cons of painkillers, and points out that getting an MRI or CT scan often times becomes a “Gateway to Surgery”. He suggests “waiting until you’ve given conservative treatment a chance to work”. He then has a nice summary of modalities to try for “Safe, Lasting Pain Relief”. This list includes Acupuncture, “one of the best-studied alternative therapies for pain relief”, amongst Stem Cell Therapy, Prolotherapy, High-Intensity Laser, Chiropractic, and Supplements (“such as curcumin, boswellia, omega-3 fatty acids, UC-II (type II collagen), bromelain, astaxanthin and ginger”).

I must note that three of these supplements or herbal remedies are from Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal medicine: curcumin, boswellia and ginger! I also just happen to carry a great arthritis herbal formula (patients love the results they have!) and amongst other ingredients, it has curcumin, boswellia and collagen. (I cannot advertise the product or its price, since the product is sold only by qualified health care professionals).

Dr. Whitaker also has on his website a nice article highlighting the many conditions Acupuncture Benefits, last updated in August 2014.

Oct 062014
 
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This is an important read for everyone about the dangers of vaccinations – I just happened to come across this article in 2012 in an Explore journal article. Explore is a “Journal of Science and Healing”, which has a focus on “scientific principles behind, and applications of, evidence-based healing practices”, and is edited by Larry Dossey.

This article is unavailable on their website without registering and paying for their content (as of 10/14), but I finally found it reprinted here:
Health Beyond Vaccines, by Dr. Garry Gordon.

Aug 262014
 
IMG_3293

I attended the Institute of Functional Medicine’s Nutrition Conference this year. It was held in San Francisco in May 2014, and since the speakers were many of the scholars I have been following for years and the conference was held so close to home, I could not pass up this opportunity to see these physicians and leaders speak in person! It was a wonderful experience, and as always, I came away with more ideas on how to educate patients about maintaining health (there is always more to LEARN)!

(Click here to learn more about ‘What is Functional Medicine?’)

Here are highlights of some of the sessions I attended:

  • Food Rules: A Candid Conversation with Michael Pollan
    Dr. Mark Hyman, Chairman of IFM, leading authority on Functional Medicine (FM) and best-selling author in this field, interviewed Michael Pollan, food activist, journalism professor and author of In Defense of Food, Omnivore’s Dilemma and Cooked. Michael Pollan started the discussion by quoting Wendell Berry – “People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food“. Berry’s words such as these and others on agrarian agriculture lead Pollan from a career as an editor of one of the best magazines in the US (I think – Harper’s Magazine), to author and educator in the politics of our food culture. Pollan discussed the food politics in the US, which results in a lack of a health-oriented food policy, likening the sugar industry of today to the tobacco industry of the 1950’s. He discussed that this current administration is silent about the food industry (except for Let’s Move!), has no ‘food policy’, citing such examples of “incoherent policies” as subsidizing the sugar industry while also subsidizing insulin pumps, and our soybean and corn “monoculture”. Pollan discussed the food industry’s ability to make Americans think they are eating healthy by what he terms as ‘Nutritionism’ – where processed food is marketed as ‘healthy’ because of added nutrients (‘fortified with Vitamin D’, for example) – but as he points out – “real food cannot change its nutrients”! Pollan and Hyman also discussed that the ‘health care crisis’ of today is the “catastrophe of the American diet”, with Hyman noting “we have outsourced our cooking to corporations”, which I think is an excellent way to think about what has happened to the American diet! Hyman also discussed specifically how high-fructose corn syrup damages our intestines, leading to ‘leaky-gut syndrome’1 occurring very frequently in our population, causing a multitude of chronic health issues. Pollan believes that any ‘food policy’ by our government has to be towards health, since it is of “huge economic value” to reduce Type 2 diabetes. He also mentioned that in the US, “40% of hospitals have ‘fast food'” today! He also believes that “industrial agriculture is unsustainable”, that we need to look at “the real cost of food production” and that it is possible to feed all the people in the world via small, sustainable, organic, local farming with its built-in, natural resiliency to change. Pollan mentioned that even Mexico now is moving towards having a ‘food policy’ (such as limiting food marketing to children, eliminating junk foods from schools since they promote disease, and putting taxes on soda and junk food). Pollan is also known for a set of Food Rules, and here is the most famous and best one:

    Eat (real) food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

  • Medical Nutrition Therapy in the 21st Century: The Future of Personalized Nutrition, presented by Jeffrey Bland, PhD. Bland is the biochemist and research scientist at the forefront of Functional Medicine, being a co-founder of the IFM, Metagenics, Inc., and Bastyr University, and the founder of Functional Medicine Update aka Synthesis. Bland initially reviewed the categories of nutrients: 1) Essential Nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids, 2) Conditionally Essential Nutrients, such as CoQ10 and Lipoic Acid, 3) Spice‐Derived Phytochemicals, such as beta-carotene, lycopene, curcumin, and lutein, 4) Accessory Nutrients, such as probiotics, prebiotics and fibers, and 5) Replacement of Insufficient Metabolites such as galactose and pyruvate. Although research-based and quite technical, Bland’s talk was about how modern nutritional research is showing how these various nutrients affect our genetic expression and cellular function, and that there are many mechanisms which can influence our physiology. This science is now known as NutriGenomics. Bland summarized by saying that “medical nutrition therapeutics requires the design and implementation of a dietary program that is personalized to the patient’s genetic characteristics, environment, health status, and lifestyle”. To do this, since “no two people are identical with regard to how they respond to their diet” and “there is considerably more variation in nutrient needs among individuals than is indicated by the RDIs” (Recommended Daily Intake), those practicing FM should:

    • Evaluate the type, amount and form of plant‐based foods in the diet.
    • Make sure that vegetables and fruits are providing adequate amounts of all the major phytochemical families.
    • Use specific phytochemical concentrates including herbs and spices to amplify specific influences on genetic expression for the management of imbalanced physiology.

    Bland also just had a new book published, Disease Delusion: Conquering the Causes of Chronic Illness for a Healthier, Longer, and Happier Life. This is finally a book for the layperson describing all that Functional Medicine is today, including what current nutritional research tells us to date. Basically, FM treats all chronic illness by combining the latest research in genetic science, systems biology and nutrition, with laboratory testing and nutritional, lifestyle and environmental factor analysis, and then using a patient-centered approach, offers nutrition, lifestyle and natural medicine treatment options. It can be quite amazing how diet and nutrition tailored to the individual, using NutriGenomics along with lifestyle adjustments can influence the health of the individual with great success!

    I will write a book review soon of Bland’s book summarizing the approach of Functional Medicine to treat chronic illness (it will be posted on this blog and linked here).

  • Nourishing the Whole Self: The Food & Spirit Clinical Approach to Patient Transformation“, presented by Deanna Minich, PhD. This dynamic woman has a PhD in Nutrition, is the author of several books2 and has created a system of connecting the Ayurvedic Chakra system to ‘Food and Spirit’, via the modern Functional Medicine outlook of diet and lifestyle. Her approach especially resonates with me, since it is similar to my approach of integrating the dietary and nutritional approach of Traditional Chinese Medicine with Functional Medicine. She discussed the ‘elements of health’ and how to integrate it via her ‘therapeutic elements’ of Food & Spirit. She used the analogy that combining ‘good energy’ (from food, people or experiences) and ‘quality matter’ (from whole food and supplements) combine to give us ‘optimal health and well-being’. She has a toolkit of an assessment questionnaire, workbook and affirmation cards (I really love these!) to help patients with a personalized diet and lifestyle plan to maintain health. For more information see Food & Spirit. Dr. Minich also recently organized an online Functional Medicine “Detox Summit”, which includes many of the same speakers as the Nutrition Conference held in SF.
  • Nutrition Controversies: What’s the ‘Right’ Diet?
    This was a set of research-based presentations of three common modern diets. The panel consisted of both research scientists and clinicians. It was initially discussed by the moderator that answering this question is inherently very difficult from evidence-based scientific studies due to several reasons – but mainly due to the difficulty of defining a diet, getting participants in studies to achieve adherence to a diet, and probably most importantly, food and diets are not homogeneous, but rather are very diverse, or heterogeneous. He also pointed out that researchers have made the mistake thinking “there is a single healthy diet that’s right for everyone”. The presenters were:
    • Mediterranean Diet, by Mimi Guarneri, MD, a cardiologist and author ofThe Heart Speaks
      Paleolithic Diet, by Loren Cordain, PhD, nutrition professor and researcher and founder of the Paleo Diet,
      Plant-Based Diet, by Joel Fuhrman, MD, a family physician and author of several books, including Super Immunity and The End of Diabetes

    • The excellent moderator was Christopher Gardner, PhD, a nutrition researcher and Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, who realized that the best way to summarize ‘the right diet’ from these researched, varied diets was to highlight what these researchers and physicians are in agreement on! It is:

      1) Added sugar in our diets is out of control
      2) Eat lots of vegetables
      3) Eat low glycemic fruits
      4) Reduce consumption of potatoes (more dangerous when more insulin resistance)
      5) No trans-fat (often added to processed foods)
      6) No processed foods

    Recipes from the IFM Conference:
    I have recipes from Rebecca Katz, Chef and author of Longevity Kitchen, and other contributors, plus these were also provided:
    Smoothie Recipes at IFM Booth

    Footnotes:
    1 ‘Leaky-gut syndrome’, or intestinal dysbiosis or intestinal permeability is caused by inflammation and resulting damage to the intestinal walls from several possible factors: an inflammatory diet (such as excess carbohydrates or sugar, processed foods, or allergens such as gluten or dairy, etc.), medications (antibiotics, corticosteroids, antacids), viral infections, parasites, stress (increased cortisol), environmental toxins, yeast or bacterial overgrowth, hormone deficiencies, and autoimmune disease processes.
    2 As I am writing this, I realize I already have one of her books in my office, for perusal and for sale both! An A to Z Guide to Food Additives: Never Eat What You Can’t Pronounce.

  • Aug 252014
     

    A few articles highlighting the commonly used herb in Chinese Medicine, Jin Yin Hua, or Honeysuckle Flower – a powerful antibiotic and antiviral:

    Micheal Tierra article on Honeysuckle Flower

    Honeysuckle Flower Reference on Acupuncture Today

    Jake Fratkin article (one of my teachers) – Modern Applications for Antiviral Therapy

    Aug 192014
     
    YellowButterfly

    While most of us in the US may know of tumeric as a spice coming from India, it has been in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Materia Medica for as far back as 657 A.D. Tumeric is in the same plant family as ginger, commonly used in both Chinese herbal medicine and Chinese cooking1 . Tumeric is from the plant known as Curcuma longa, hence Curcumin became the name for the main active ingredient in tumeric.

    In TCM, we commonly use at least three species that belong to the Curcuma genus. Each one contains Curcumin but each plant has different unique medicinal qualities. In the last few years, Curcumin has become popular as an anti-inflammatory herbal ingredient and is used in many western herbal and supplement products for musculo-skeletal injuries and arthritis, and for anti-cancer support. However, the various Curcuma species have been used in Chinese Medicine for a long time for pain syndromes, benign or malignant masses, and much more.

    Turmeric (Curcuma longa) or Jiang Huang (literal English translation is “ginger yellow”) is used in TCM to treat chest and hypochondriac (anterior rib area) pain, epigastric pain, dymenorrhea, and hepatitis liver pain. It is also used to treat pain syndromes such as tendonitis, bursitis, and arthritis, especially in the upper limbs. Additionally, it is used to treat pain from certain types of infected sores and lesions. Modern research has shown it does have an anti-inflammatory effect and antiplatelet effect. Additionally, it has also shown the ability to lower both cholesterol and triglycerides levels, and has demonstrated an ability to increase production and excretion of bile.

    Curcuma aromatica or Curcuma domestica (Yu Jin) is used in TCM to treat pain, cramping and bloating associated with menstruation, especially irregular menstruation. It also treats abdominal masses, especially those in the hypochondriac region and disorders such as liver cirrhosis, or hepatomegaly or splenomegaly (liver or spleen enlargement). It also has the ability to stop certain types of bleeding (based on diagnosis) such as vomiting blood, hematuria (blood in the urine) or nosebleeds. It is also used to treat certain types of disorientation, epilepsy, mania and other psychologically-related disorders. It will also treat jaundice and gallstones.

    The root or rhizome of another species, Curcuma Zedoria or E Zhu, is traditionally considered one of the strongest herbs to break up masses, especially in the abdomen. Masses can be tumors, either benign or malignant. This herb is used in formulas for many types of cancer in TCM, however, modern research has shown this herb is most effective against cervical cancer. E Zhu is also a strong pain-relieving herb, especially used for abdominal pain, including certain types of epigastric or hypochondriac fullness, abdominal distention or hardness, and pelvic inflammation. It is also used for dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), amenorrhea (lack of menstruation) and indigestion . Additionally, this herb has shown antiplatelet and anti-thrombotic properties, along with having antibiotic-like effects against Staph, Strep and E. coli.

    In TCM, all health conditions, including pain syndromes or diseases, are treated after determining a diagnosis based on analyzing a patient’s signs and symptoms, along with by observing the tongue and pulse, all of which help determine the affected organs and the pattern of disharmony in the body. Once a diagnosis is made, an herbal formula will be prescribed, never an individual herb as often assumed by western patients. This is because an individual’s diagnosis is complex and specific, and in order to treat it, a combination of properties of herbs are needed to be most effective.

    So, here are a few examples of modified traditional Chinese herbal formulas that I prescribe in my clinic, when appropriate, that contain Curcumin in them, along a description of their specific clinical applications (all products are from Evergreen Herbs):

    1) Jiang Huang
    Arm Support
    Shoulder: periarthritis of the shoulder, frozen shoulder, capsulitis, rotator cuff tear, rotator cuff tendonitis, bursitis, inflammation and pain of the shoulder, subluxation or dislocation, AC (acromioclavicular) separation.
    Elbow: lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow), olecranon bursitis, tendonitis.
    Wrist: carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, sprain and strain.
    General musculoskeletal injuries: tendonitis, bursitis, arthritis of the arm.
    Numbness, decreased range of motion and atrophy of the arm.

    2) Yu Jin
    Shine – Depression with low energy, prolonged sadness or irritability, and lack of interest in daily activities.

    Calm Jr – ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), autism, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, difficulty in focusing, inattentiveness, restlessness; childhood convulsions, epilepsy, seizures and twitching of muscles.

    Liver DTX – Liver damage with high levels of SGPT and SGOT; liver detoxification: enhances the normal metabolic and detoxification functions of the liver; hepatitis: treats hepatitis with or without jaundice, repairs liver cell damage; liver cirrhosis from excessive alcohol intake; addiction: detoxifies liver during alcohol, drug or smoking cessation; cholecystitis with increased liver enzymes, possibly with liver impairment.

    Migratrol – Migraine headache: acute and chronic; tension headache: acute and chronic; cluster headache: acute and chronic.

    Cholisma ES – High cholesterol and triglycerides levels; fatty liver; obesity; prevention and treatment for the conditions above.

    Back Support (Upper) – Acute injury or trauma to the chest, ribs, or thoracic area with pain, inflammation, swelling, or bruises; upper back stiffness and pain, scapular pain and/or pain between the scapulae; subluxation of the thoracic vertebrae; rib fracture.

    3) E Zhu
    CA Support – Cancer patients who suffer extreme weakness and deficiency and cannot receive surgery or chemotherapy and radiation treatments; late stage, terminally-ill cancer patients with pain and suffering.

    Resolve (Lower) – Fibrocystic disorders in the lower half of the body, such as fibroids and cysts in the uterus and ovaries; endometriosis; palpable masses and benign tumors of the female reproductive organs; female infertility due to obstruction in the lower abdominal region (i.e. tubal obstruction); pelvic pain due to obstruction in the lower abdominal region; scarring or blood stagnation in the pelvic cavity from surgery.

    Arm Support – described above

    _______________________________________________________________
    Footnotes:
    1 The only dish I have seen in Chinese restaurants that has turmeric in it is ‘Singapore Noodles’. I especially like it because it combines turmeric with rice noodles (vs. noodles with wheat), which is great for those who are gluten sensitive.

    References:
    1. Chen, John K. and Tina T. Chen. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. AOM Press: 2004.
    2. Bensky, Dan and Andrew Gamble. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica. Eastland Press, Revised Edition: 1993.
    3. Clinical Manual of Oriental Medicine, 2nd edition, Lotus Institute of Integrative Medicine. (Descriptions of Evergreen Herbs products.)