According to Chinese medicine, the best time to do a detox is in the Spring. It's a bit complicated to go into the details here as to why this is the best time of year for this. But if you are interested in learning more or participating in the spring detox, you can contact my partner - Remee. Remee has been runnig a spring detox for her patients for well over a decade and they love it. You can check out this program at this link.
An interesting study from the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University found that women with LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels below 100 mg/dL may actually be MORE at risk for certain types of strokes. And the recommended levels of LDL are below this level! You can read a report on the study here. I'm not sure what is up with this, but to me it's another example that shows that we don't really have everything figured out (most things?). That there are very few absolutes in health. I am not reporting this to scare anyone, just to remind you to be skeptical of all medical advice - including my own! One day meat is bad for you and the next it's saving you. One day they recommend to take your vitamins and the next they say it doesn't really do anything and might be harming you. There are some things that do seem to be written in stone, maybe. Like vegetables are most likely good for you. And exercise too, unless you are hit by a truck while jogging. Maybe everything in moderation should be the maxim, including cholesterol drugs.
I like to tell the story that the first time I ever got interested in things maybe considered 'alternative' was from taking a class at my alma mater the University of Texas at Austin. UT had classes called informal classes that the community could take and that students or exes could take at a reduced rate. And being Austin, the range and scope of the classes was eclectic to say the least. So, the first class I ever took there was actually a yoga class. This was before yoga was even popular and I didn't know it until later but for me it was life changing. Because, the way I felt after those first yoga classes I can still remember. Another class I took was on breathing. Amazing, a class on breathing. But the teacher, Charles McInerney was so impressive and informed about the way our breath can effect our health, that I realized that we can do things to become healthier on our own, without meds or western intervention. This opened up a new way of thinking for me. I hope Charles won't mind me linking to his web site, so here goes. For some amazing content click here. I recommend reading his blog as well.
So I was very interested in the study you can find here that talks about a western approach to improving our breathing that can increase heart and brain health in just 5 minutes a day. The yogis have been doing a practice called pranayama or breath control for thousands of years. And adding pranyama to your yoga practice is a good idea.
In a word - no. Results of medical and lifestyle studies that could help us decide how to live healthier lives are a dime a dozen on the internet. Instead of taking these results at face value and perhaps changing your behavior, it is best to think about if the results are completely valid or not. Then you can decide if the study was good science or flawed in some respect. And believe me all studies that post headline-making results are not good science. Here are a few things to look for so you can decide: 1. look first at possible conflicts of interest. Who funded the study? How would gain from the results? if you read report of the fantastic health benefits of coffee, it should be a red flag if that study was funded by Starbucks! 2. how large a study was it and for how long? it makes sense that a study of 9 people done over a weekend might be a lot less accurate than one done with 10,000 people over 30 years. 3. how was the study conducted? If, for example, participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire about how many times in the past year they ate meat, I would question the accuracy of the data, because memories can be bad. 4. was it a double blind study? The double blind study is the gold standard in research. This means that the person who is conducting the study as well the person in the study both do not know who is receiving a particular treatment. For instance if there is a placebo and a real drug given randomly to participants, neither the giver not the taker know who got the real drug and who got the placebo. This way the person giving the drug out as well as the one taking it does not expect a certain outcome.
This type of thinking through studies and even polls works well not just for scientific papers but for any results that come out trying to influence you. Like a study showing that the best cars are made by Ford. Who funded the study (was it Ford?), If it was a poll who did they ask? Maybe they just polled 100 Ford dealership owners?
So we should be look a little deeper into any research or claims in order to determine if the results are valid. Its healthy to have a degree of skepticism.
Sometimes is the simple things that we do or don't do that make a big difference in our health and maybe even our lives. A study recently published in the International Journal of Cancer found an association between drinking tea at very high temperature and the risk of developing esophageal cancer. This was a big study and they followed the 5000 participants for more than 10 years. The results are rather staggering. Here they are: Overall, the study found that drinking 700 milliliters (ml) of "very hot" tea per day increased the chances of esophageal cancer by 90 percent compared with drinking the same daily amount of cold or lukewarm tea. So, what I get from this is that the inflammation caused by the hot beverage causes, on a day to day basis, inflammation that doesn't have a chance to diminish, and over time can lead to tissue damage and cancer. As the Greeks told us, everything in moderation (or pan metron ariston in Greek). Probably a good thing to keep in mind.
I read a lot about studies that come out regarding health issues. Most of these are Western medicine studies. What we strive to do here at the Acupuncture Center is be as knowledgeable as possible about Western and Eastern medicine and how they might work together or separately to help our patients. That is our goal, no strings attached. And I am also just very interested in medical research and knowledge. Knowledge as they say is power, and the more I know as a practitioner and a fellow human allows me to help my patients, as well as myself to stay healthy. Anyway, I saw a study this morning regarding high blood pressure that is a good example of the fact that we don't know everything yet. This is obvious, but it is good to keep that in mind, to have a good amount of skepticism regarding what we really know to be the final word.
The first article I suggest you look at is a study that shows that sometimes, especially in older people, high blood pressure seems to be a good thing. It also notes that 3 different medical organizations have 3 different recommendations for what it means to have high blood pressure. The first part is more interesting to me and kinda shows that whether or not you have high blood pressure is not the end of the story. You can read that article by clicking on this link. The second story is a report on a study that concluded that taking a midday nap might be a good or better than taking blood pressure meds! Here is the 2nd story link.
A new study out concludes that a 'relatively short course of acupuncture could significantly reduce some of the most unpleasant symptoms of menopause'. You can check out an article about it here. Menopause is something that we have always treated at the Acupuncture Center, and it usually responds well to treatment. This is most likely because the theory that Chinese medicine is based on actually predicts menopause and the symptoms that go along with it. And has developed tried and true treatments to help. My partner Remee is really the expert in treating menopause, and you can check out her practice website (Empress Acupuncture) here. But I also must treat menopause in order to get the best results. Because even if you are treating pain, you need to take into account the increase in inflammation associated with menopause. Because inflammation, or heat as we call it, can turn an acute pain into a chronic pain. So points and sometimes herbal remedies and also dietary guidelines are given which treat pain issues more effectively during menopause. And pain is one of the most common symptoms of menopause.
New research reported in the journal 'Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience' show that the subjects who all did yoga for just 8 weeks, were helped with physical and psychological symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. You can read a report on the research here. This is good news because the drugs used for RA are old chemotherapy drugs. And are not easy on the body, and do not cure the disease. I have patients who have been diagnosed with RA, who no longer have any symptoms to speak of. So are they cured? Maybe. But its always good to have a healthy lifestyle and yoga is something that is amazing for the body and something really anyone can do at some level. I remember my Mom's friend Mary Ellen who has MS and is confined to a wheelchair most of the time and needs help even eating. She was telling me that she goes to yoga twice a week and that she loves it. I thought that was just great.
I was just reading an article talking about how fibromyalgia is often misdiagnosed. Here is the link. It made me think about how different Chinese medicine diagnosis is and how different addressing illness is between these two types of medicine. With Chinese medicine we look at patterns of illness that are at the root of the issue. The root is the major cause of the illness. Then we use whatever is needed, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and dietary tweaks, to go after the root problem. When the root is eliminated, then the illness is over, done. So, I know I have said this before, but you really want to promote health instead of trying to kill illness. The Chinese have been doing this with their medicine for 3000 years.
As many of you know who read my blog, last year I tried tried the ketogenic diet, pretty hard core, for 2 solid months. I wanted to lose 12 pounds and I lost about a pound a day for the first week, then I cheated some and lost 7 more pounds over the remaining time. I started back on a more 'normal' American diet and added intermittent fasting to keep at my goal range of weight. But adding back more carbs, I noticed that I just didn't feel as well, that I was often hungry, and the weight goal I set was harder to maintain. The more cards I consumed the more carbs I wanted. So, I have again cut way back on carbs, and after a short while I don't miss them hardly at all. Sugar for one, I believe is one of those substances that must be held in check. If you don't control sugar it will control you. And in the American diet it is ubiquitous. Its hides in the most unexpected products. Food manufacturers know that it sells more products (see the book 'Fat, Sugar, Salt'). So if you are trying to reduce the sugar in your diet, start reading labels closely. And if you don't understand an ingredient then look it up, because they will try and trick you into thinking their product is not so bad. And start planning your meals and cooking more at home, the only way you can really control the ingredients.
Monte Jackson, owner Acupuncture Center of Richmond