News and Research

Apr 122018
 
Acup_2010_2Update

Research into the importance of and benefits from an integrated model of health care has been recognized at the federal level for at least 20 years now with the formation the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). (NCCAM was renamed to National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) in 2014). One important indication of integrative medicine’s increased acceptance is NCCIH’s recent educational campaign geared towards veterans and military personnel discussing such topics such as managing chronic pain, PTSD, stress/anxiety and insomnia using ‘complementary practices’. A recent new analysis (3/17) of a National Health Interview Study, which was conducted by the CDC from 2010 to 2014, shows that veterans are in much more pain on average than non-veterans, and the ‘NCCIH is partnering with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense on 13 grants to research military and veteran health with a focus on non-pharmacological approaches to pain and related conditions’. The Veterans Health Administration has used acupuncture and chiropractic treatments for many years now, amongst other complementary practices, such as massage, hypnosis, meditation and yoga. The Veterans Choice program, which began in 2015, also allows veterans to go to local acupuncturists and chiropractors for pain management treatments, with prior authorization, so that a veteran does not have to wait more than 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to the closest VA facility. For Butte County residents, that includes every veteran needing such services for pain management, given VA authorization or approval.

Originally published April 2017 in the ‘PARADISE RIDGE Lifestyle & Resource Guide’, a Paradise Ridge Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau publication.

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 112016
 
ZhiBaiDiHuangWan

Menopausal Symptoms Helped by Acupuncture

From the conclusion of this study: “We found that a course of acupuncture treatments was associated with significant reduction in VMS, and several quality-of-life measures, compared with no acupuncture, and that clinical benefit persisted for at least 6 months beyond the end of treatment.”

Note: VMS is vasomotor symptoms, or hot flashes.

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

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?

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

Mar 142016
 
IMG_6013

I have understood for years that patients can use their Health Savings Accounts (HSA) for purchasing dietary supplements or herbal remedies that I recommend for treatment. This is the case also for Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA). As a licensed Acupuncturist in the state of California, I am called a “primary care provider” and it is within my scope of practice to “prescribe” herbs and supplements.

However, I have been told by many patients that they have been told that my supplement or herbal prescriptions would not be covered by their HSA or FSA. What I did in the past was give patients a “superbill”, which is a insurance bill or form. It shows my licensing information, my NPI# (National Provider Identifier), and has CPT codes for procedures performed (in my case, acupuncture), and diagnosis codes (for example, cervicalgia, lumbago, sciatica, knee pain, etc). However, now I have a formal form that I can give patients along with a superbill, which will be signed by me to give to the insurance company, or service company of your HSA or FSA.

For reference, this form can be found here:
Reimbursement Form

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).

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.

Jun 092015
 
IMG_3817

Seeing that Integrative Medicine is making great crossroads into the American healthcare system, I decided to write an article discussing this. It was published in Lotus Guide, April/May/June 2015 issue.

I also cover this warning: “Americans: Do NOT Assume OTC Drugs Are Safe!”

2015: Current State of Integrative Medicine in the U.S.

Thanks to John Weeks, of the Integrator Blog whose great posts gave me the inspiration for this for article too (see references in article)!

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.)

Jun 252014
 

Dr. Maoshing Ni, or Dr. Mao as he is affectionately known, is a 38th-generation doctor of Chinese medicine and co-founder of Yo San University, a college of Traditional Chinese Medicine in southern California. He is considered ‘an authority on Taoist anti-aging medicine’ and has written many books on this topic. I think my favorite books are “Secrets of Longevity” for its common-sense wisdom in an easy-to-read format (which I have referenced many times for my patients’ use), “Second Spring“, another easy reference about treating menopausal symptoms naturally,” and his latest book, “Secrets of Longevity Cookbook” (I wrote a review of this cookbook that can be found here). Dr. Mao has become more famous in recent years due to his appearances on the Dr. Oz show – kudos to him for bringing Chinese Medicine to the masses, I say!!

I also now carry some of Dr. Mao’s wellness products, see my previous blog post.

For more information about Dr. Mao and Chinese Medicine, see his websites:
Ask Dr. Mao
Tao of Wellness

Feb 032014
 

It has been discussed in natural medicine circles for years that many food additives have not been proven to be safe and may in fact be potentially detrimental to our health. Now the FDA is finally looking into one, the caramel coloring added to many colas and other foods, and whether it should be banned:

FDA Reviewing Potential Carcinogen of Caramel Coloring in Colas

Please note the side articles that discuss how one company in particular changed their soda formulation to avoid Prop 65 labeling in California of this potential carcinogen.

Jan 282014
 

Commentary, Jan 28, 2014:
Just received a few calls about a Chinese herb, Corydalis, that evidently Dr. Oz had on his show today – it is a strong herb for pain, but in Chinese Medicine, we never treat with just one individual herb – this herb (and most others) is best used when a practitioner has helped diagnosis the pattern of disharmony leading to the specific pain that an individual has, and then based on that diagnosis, prescribes an herbal remedy or formula (or combination of herbs) to treat that pattern of pain or disharmony. So yes, I have this herb in many formulas, but the best solution to treating pain with Chinese Medicinal herbs is to have it based on your particular situation – this is the way to heal the body, with the result being pain reduction, not by taking one individual herb for pain as shown on Dr. Oz!