Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Does Acupuncture really work?

Recently I came across and article in The Wall Street Journal entitled "Decoding an Ancient Therapy: High-Tech Tools Show How Acupuncture Works in Treating Arthritis, Back Pain, Other Ills"

As many of you know I have always been interested in research and the process in which acupuncture research studies are carried out; below is part of the article from the WSJ showing just how it is being done:

"Acupuncture has long baffled medical experts and no wonder: It holds that an invisible life force called qi (pronounced chee) travels up and down the body in 14 meridians. Illness and pain are due to blockages and imbalances in qi. Inserting thin needles into the body at precise points can unblock the meridians, practitioners believe, and treat everything from arthritis and asthma to anxiety, acne and infertility.

As fanciful as that seems, acupuncture does have real effects on the human body, which scientists are documenting using high-tech tools. Neuroimaging studies show that it seems to calm areas of the brain that register pain and activate those involved in rest and recuperation. Doppler ultrasound shows that acupuncture increases blood flow in treated areas. Thermal imaging shows that it can make inflammation subside.
Scientists are also finding parallels between the ancient concepts and modern anatomy. Many of the 365 acupuncture points correspond to nerve bundles or muscle trigger points. Several meridians track major arteries and nerves. "If people have a heart attack, the pain will radiate up across the chest and down the left arm. That's where the heart meridian goes," says Peter Dorsher, a specialist in pain management and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. "Gallbladder pain will radiate to the right upper shoulder, just where the gallbladder meridian goes."

The use of acupuncture continues to spread—often alongside conventional medicine. U.S. Navy, Air Force and Army doctors are using acupuncture to treat musculoskeletal problems, pain and stress in stateside hospitals and combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Delegations from Acupuncturists Without Borders are holding communal ear-needling sessions to reduce stress among earthquake victims in Haiti. Major medical centers—from M.D. Anderson in Houston to Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York—use acupuncture to counteract the side effects of chemotherapy."

To read the full article please click here
posted by Sharon Wyse L.Ac.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Chinese medicine plant may lead to anticancer drug"

 "Traditional Chinese medicinal plants are used for a lot of maladies, but researchers at Johns Hopkins say one could serve as a starting point for development of new anticancer drugs.
The researchers found that a natural product isolated from a plant known as thunder god vine, or lei gong teng, and used to treat maladies including rheumatoid arthritis, works by blocking gene control machinery in the cell.
Their report was published in the March issue of Nature Chemical Biology.
“Extracts of this medicinal plant have been used to treat a whole host of conditions and have been highly lauded for anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive, contraceptive and antitumor activities,” says Jun O. Liu, a professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins. “We've known about the active compound, triptolide, and that it stops cell growth, since 1972, but only now have we figured out what it does.”
To read the full article please click here
Posted by Sharon Wyse L.Ac.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Need some ZZZ's?"

I recently came across this article on sleep disorders in an issue of Women magazine and how trying to "catch up" on sleep really doesn't work...

"The causes of sleep disorders and the reasons they persist vary. With insomnia, for example, different types of insomnia tend to have different causes. For instance, insomnia can be a conditioned response, meaning that it’s attributed to a significant event—such as a career change, divorce, or any stressful experience. The shock or anxiety associated with that event may trigger insomnia, but the disorder persists once the event has passed due to “strategies” that we put in place to cope with a lack of sleep."

"In general, says Allison T. Siebern, MD, associate director of the Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Stanford University, “Insomnia is the most prevalent sleep disorder.”
Dr. Siebern says that sometimes people respond to inadequate sleep by trying to sleep more. This won’t work, she says, because “Sleep is a biological process—you can’t force it.” So, efforts to sleep more tend to backfire by raising something called the hyperarousal system. This system is responsible for the stress response known as fight or flight, and once it’s raised the mind becomes extremely alert and the muscles are tense. Naturally, this state makes sleep increasingly difficult. As a result, says Dr. Siebern, “People become very frustrated that they can’t sleep,” and the cycle of unsuccessfully trying harder to sleep continues; insomnia is thus maintained. “There are processes that help regulate sleep,” she says, “so if you try to sleep outside the times you normally sleep, you’re physiologically in a place where you’re not able to sleep.”

To read the full article please click here 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Can eating red meat help stop your baby from crying?

I came across this article recently that suggests that "Mothers-to-be who boost their intake of a vitamin found in steak during the first three months of pregnancy are up to eight times more likely to have babies who cry less".
This research was published in the Early Human Development journal and involved nearly 3,000 pregnant women.
"The researchers found that those women whose test results showed they had the least B12 were up to eight times more likely to give birth to a child who cried for prolonged periods than those who had the most.
On average, five per cent of mothers lacking B12 had a distressed baby while just over one per cent of women with the most B12 reported their baby cried excessively.
The researchers, from the Public Health Service in the Netherlands, concluded: 'This study provides first evidence for an early nutritional origin in infant crying behaviour.

'The results suggest infants born to women with a low B12 status during pregnancy are at a higher risk for excessive crying behavior in their first months of life.'

The researchers suggest that a lack of B12 may affect how much of a supportive tissue known as myelin, which surrounds and protects the nerve cells, is produced in the brain. Less myelin could cause irritability, they suggest.
They also say B12 could affect sleep cycles because low levels prevent the release of the body's sleep hormone, melatonin."
To read the full article please click here

Friday, April 1, 2011

"The End of Ouch?"

"One of the best imports from Eastern medicine — acupuncture — comes from a time before ibuprofen and Bengay. Not everyone agrees on how acupuncture works, but physicians believe it activates endorphin systems, and many consider it a highly effective complementary therapy"

"My mission is to help people live the longest and happiest lives possible, and that means lives that are pain-free. But Americans don't do pain well. Historically, if people were not in immediate medical danger, their pain was considered an unfortunate side effect or a collateral consequence of solving a greater problem.  But all that is changing. I am here to tell anyone who suffers from pain each day, whose life is circumscribed and whose goals are slipping out of reach, that you are at last being heard. We are in a pain renaissance. (Read the cover story "Healing the Hurt.")
First, the biology: Pain is actually an intricate interplay along neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord. The body produces natural painkillers like serotonin, norepinephrine and opioid-like chemicals. Chronic pain is any pain that persists beyond the usual healing period. Continuous or intermittent, it can consume all aspects of a person's life.
Second, the numbers: Chronic pain is one of the costliest health problems in the U.S., with an estimated annual price tag of close to $50 billion. Lower-back pain is by far the most common complaint, affecting 70% to 85% of adults at some point and leaving 7 million either partially or severely disabled. Lower-back pain accounts for 93 million workdays lost every year and consumes over $5 billion in health care costs. Arthritis pain affects 40 million Americans, and 45 million suffer from chronic headaches.
But it's not just about your bad back or arthritic knee. People with chronic pain are twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety as those without. What starts in your lower back eventually eats away at your soul. You enjoy your loved ones less, and you are less enjoyable to them. If pain affects body, mind and spirit, then treatment must address these three pillars of the human condition"

To read more of this TIME magazine article click here