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.
I have talked in other blogs about the many benefits of intermittent fasting. And just as some patients fear the acupuncture needles before they get a treatment and find out that the needles don't hurt - many people are afraid if they fast they will get hungry. It's true you might get a little bit hungry, for a while. But the benefits far outweigh any temporary discomfort. I just read an article that explains recent research that shows some of these benefits - which include helping you live longer! Here is a link to the article: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324347.php
Can you or should you treat colds and even the flu with Chinese medicine? I think we have shown our patients over the years that the answer is yes. Usually the patients we treat for this are our regulars, people who have been coming to see us for years are even over a decade. These people know that we have some good Chinese herbal formulas that work quickly to fight a cold or flu as well as make them feel better almost immediately. And we also use herbs on ourselves to treat an cold that might come up. I have used herbs often to treat upper respiratory infections as well. Some people do not like taking antibiotics and herbs can be an effective and inexpensive alternative. But if you have say a 101 degree temperature or have an extremely sore throat or infected ears, it might be best to get some antibiotics. But herbs can also be taken at the same time to help you feel better and get well even faster.
I tell patients quite often about the healing properties of bone broth. Many of them have heard about it, since it is kinda trendy, but many do not know why it is so good for us. Bone broth is made by getting bones and cooking them on low temperature for a very long time. This method causes all the connective tissues such as the cartilage and marrow to literally dissolve into the solution. And these are the most nutritious parts of the bone that we rarely get access to. If you are dealing with any chronic condition I recommend bone broth on a daily basis. For general health a few times a week or more would be good or you. Some people like to just drink a 1/4 cup or so, and others just add it to soups or stews. Here are a few of the benefits of bone broth:
1. extremely nutritious: including essential amino and fatty acids, iron, calcium and magnesium.
2. protects your joints and helps with osteoarthritis: by supplying collagen from the connective tissue.
3. supports your immune system: amino acids like arginine, glutamine and cysteine have been shown to strengthen our defenses.
4. makes you look younger: also by making more collagen available to the body.
5. increases bone strength: supplies more natural calcium but also iron, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc which are components of healthy bones.
So either start making your own bone broth or buy it at most grocery stores or on line.
Click here for a good bone broth recipe.
One of the diagnostics we use in Chinese medicine is looking at the tongue. After a decade or so of looking at many tongues a day (and first having been trained by Chinese doctors) you get pretty good at learning from the condition of the tongue. What I am getting at in this post is that I can tell if a kid or young person has been taking ADD or ADHD drugs for an extended time by looking at their tongue. The reason is that these pharmaceuticals are forms of speed! And speed dries out the body, producing inflammation and a red or even crimson red tongue often with cracks (heat dries, dryness cracks). Inflammation contributes to so many acute and chronic health problems. Of course we would never want our kids to take speed bought on the street. But these drugs are literally legalized speed. So, probably not a great idea. And, another problem is that these drugs are often abused because they can help students stay up for days studying for exams or writing a paper for instance. I have treated patients that abuse these drugs and are essentially drug addicts. And there are studies that show that kids who are raised on Ritalin or Adderall are more likely to abuse other drugs later in life. Like street speed these drugs produce a mild high, and its tough to get kids to give that up. There must be a better way.
Everyone agrees that chemotherapy and radiation is hard on the body. Acupuncture is often used to mitigate the side effects and damage it can cause. Acupuncture does this by helping the body detoxify quicker after a chemo treatment and treat the organs involved. So patients report that they have less nausea and their energy is better after receiving acupuncture post chemo or radiation. Acupuncture can also help protect the organs from more damage. We use a variety of points on the body and also in the ear, many of them treating and strengthening the liver and kidneys which can take the brunt of the organ. Also, getting acupuncture after chemo can help to lessen damage to the extremities that can cause problems like neuropathy especially in the hand and feet.
Shoulder issues are on the rise lately it seems. In our practice we see this more frequent in women than men. After women get into their 40's and later their estrogen levels drop and one effect of this is a gradual lessening of the fluids nourishing the connective tissues. The shoulder, perhaps because this joint consists mainly of muscle and connective tissue and not strictly ball and socket, the shoulder seems especially prone to injury after this age. One of the best treatments for shoulder issues is acupuncture followed by cupping. I usually recommend the 3 treatment pain package we offer. Usually we want to do the 3 treatments fairly quickly, usually within a week and a half or so. Also, Chinese herbs can be used in the short-term to help the shoulder heal from the acute injury, and in the long term we can suggest a tonic that will help nourish the joints allowing them to remain healthier through menopause and beyond.
Many people eat a lot of salads. And in Chinese medicine we kinda have an issue with that. Let me clarify. Chinese medicine is really big on the health of the digestion because this is where we get all the nutrients we need to be healthy (Chinese medicine also believes this is where we generate our Qi (energy) and blood). If the digestion is weak than our overall health suffers. In our medicine we think that raw foods, including salad greens, are tough on the digestion. This is because cooking is the start of digestion in humans (not so much for chimps who have smaller brains and larger guts and should not even be allowed to cook). So especially in Winter we want to eat less salad and raw food and more cooked food like stews and soups. In the Spring our digestive energy is greater and a few salads will cause less damage. In winter our energy goes inward, similar to an animal in hibernation. Our body goes into storage and rejuvenation mode to get ready for the coming of Spring and the awakening of our energy. So we do recommend to many of our patients to go easy on salads. I personally use tongue diagnosis to tell how your digestion is doing. It's accurate and I can tell in a glance if you in particular need to reduce or eliminate salads for a while.
Monte Jackson, owner Acupuncture Center of Richmond