Me, being a skeptic by nature (in some arenas), found this study intriguing study. You can check out the article here.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the fasting growing autoimmune disease in our country. I suspected this because it seems like half of the commercials on television are drug commercials to treat RA. So I looked it up and sure enough it's the fastest growing segment of autoimmune disease. RA generally occurs in women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. This makes sense to me because I have never seen a male with RA in my practice. I have treated this condition many times in my practice and in general it responds well to acupuncture, especially if some simple Chinese herbs are included, such and the one they nickname 'the women's herb' or dang gui in Chinese pinyin. Some of the women I have treated have responded well enough that they have come off their RA drugs, or they never had to start them. It is interesting that this illness usually starts at about the same time that women go through menopause. Menopause in our medicine is due to a natural imbalance that occurs during this hormonal change. This change called menopause brings on more heat or inflammation in the body and this can cause a tipping point into a number of named diseases, one of them being RA. So the menopause factor must be addressed in order to treat the root of the condition, to cure it instead of just medicate the symptoms.
This is probably the most asked question I get from patients. Of course you can google this. But it's probably a good idea to know how the person who is doing acupuncture on you answers this question. I like to write my blogs from my own personal experience. This is just how I think of it, from 20 years of study and doing acupuncture on patients. Simply put, acupuncture works by manipulating the Qi of the body. What Qi is is another blog; but just think of Qi as the energy that gives movement and life to us, the energy that moves your limbs and makes your heart beat and your stomach digest. So acupuncture, through hundreds of access points or acupuncture points manipulates or changes this energy in some way. It is the Qi that keep us healthy, so acupuncture assists the Qi in keeping us healthy and out of pain. The acupuncturist knows how to use combinations of points to do this. The function of each of these hundreds of points has been studied for thousands of years. It's more complex than this, but this is a good start.
My Dad was a track star in high school and a running back on the football team. But after high school he never really worked out again. That's just the way things were back then. Most people didn't work out or do much in the way of sports after their school days. But luckily times have changed. More people seem to be staying more active nowadays into their 70s, 80, and even 90s. And studies like this one show that it is worth it. This blog and my last blog both reference studies that show that we should keep on being as active as possible for as long as possible. If you are not someone who moves a lot then find some activity you enjoy - from walking to tennis to yoga. And keep at it.
Now that we are into the cold and flu season, it's important to stay healthy. One of the things that drew me to Chinese medicine is it's emphasizes on prevention. One result of any acupuncture treatment is that it will immediately boost your immune system. This sounds like a bold claim, but it is just due to way acupuncture works. And coming in for a treatment that emphasizes the immune system is even better. Our long time patients tell us that they rarely if ever get sick any more and this is something that you can experience. It's a bit complicated to go into here, but acupuncture works by enhancing and moving the Qi, or the basic energy of our body. The Qi also makes up your immune system. And the strength and free-flow of Qi strengthens your immune system. Some of our patients (and us as well) will also take Chinese herbal supplements this time of year to further boost the immune system. We have our favorite formulas that we always have around just in case.
These are good findings because most of us can run some, maybe? The findings are encouraging and I think most of us know at some level that exercise is good for us. But evidence is mounting that it may be much better for us than we think and for various reasons. In this study, or really a meta-analysis of many studies (which is usually more accurate), they looked at the effects of running. But it seems that other studies always conclude that whatever exercise you do it is good for you. Walking, running, weight training, they all seem to be good. I think that really anything that we could reasonably call exercise probably has similar benefits. Maybe there is something special about running that is better than say yoga or gardening. Or maybe not. So do what ever exercise you enjoy, because it's better for you, most likely, than you even realize. The important thing is that you do it on a regular basis.
I will just say the results were positive. And that, of course, we are not in the least surprised. In fact we treat menopause with herbs all the time. The Chinese figured this out a long time ago. There are many symptoms that go along with menopause and an increase in overall inflammation can effect things that we don't usually associate with menopause, like shoulder pain, or plantar fasciiitis. So, it usually helps to keep this in mind when you are treating women in this age range.
This article is interesting in that it tells us another way that we can be healthier that is relatively simple to do. There are so many of these things that if we just tweak the way we are doing them can benefit us. I know that some people do not cook. But if you can learn to cook a few things at home I think that you will overall be healthier. The food that we get in restaurants isn't all bad. But the goal of a restaurant is not to make you health, its to make money. And usually corners will be cut in quality and sometimes sugar will be added to just improve the flavor so you will come back. It is a treat to eat out. But it is also a treat to be able to cook at home where you control the ingredients and where you can use better cuts of meat grown without antibiotics and hormones, and organically grown veggies. If you cook at home you can improve on each ingredient. You will not cut corners to save money if you cook at home because you will be saving so much money by not eating out. And so, as the article suggests, you can control what is going into your food. Plus it's just a great feeling to have cooked a healthy quality meal for yourself and your family.
I've blogged in the past about how acupuncture seems to be really good at helping acute injury heal much faster. My partner here, Remee, was telling me recently about a patient she treated for a broken limb, and that when she went to the doc for her follow-up he was amazed that she had healed so quickly - and asked her what she did! I hear this from my patients all the time, that an injury that should have really taken a good while to heal has taken much less time than expected. Acupuncture can certainly help accelerate the healing process. This is why we are getting more and more doctor referrals for acute injury and pain.
This article makes me feel really hopeful. It basically says that we in the west are finally looking to herbal remedies to treat common ailments such as hypertension. The vast cornucopia that makes up the world of Chinese herbs (and Western herbs as well) is vast and varied. There are over 3000 Chinese herbs that have been used and studied in the East for thousands of years. I think it is great that we in the West are studying them and trying to find alternatives to some of the drugs we use that may have problematic side effects. The main things I like about Chinese herbs is that there are no real side-effects and that they treat the underlying or root cause of a condition as well as the symptoms.
Monte Jackson, owner Acupuncture Center of Richmond