Thursday, June 28, 2012

8 Energy Boosters to Get You Through the Day

Back away from the energy drinks! If you want to short-circuit your slump without feeling wired, you want a smoother, less jolting solution. These eight natural energy lifters are proven to work.

  1. Snap open the shades. A jolt of morning light -- scientists call it the dawn signal -- activates special cells in your eyes that send a wake-up call to your brain's internal clock.
  2. Light up your brain at lunch, too. Sitting beside a sunny window for 30 minutes midday makes you more wide awake. In one study, women who did scored better on alertness tests afterward.
  3. Top off your tank. Getting to the point where you're just starting to feel thirsty -- a mere 2.6% drop in hydration levels -- can double your feelings of fatigue. It made study volunteers work twice as hard on a set of brain-teasing puzzles.
  4. Squeeze your hand or tap your head. Sounds crazy, but DIY acupressure boosts alertness as effectively as a small cup of coffee, say University of Michigan researchers. Rap your knuckles a few times on the top of your head, squeeze the fleshy pad between your thumb and first finger, or massage the base of your skull and the front of your shins.
  5. Have salad and grilled chicken for lunch. Not the tuna melt, pizza, or meatloaf. High-fat foods are likely to make you moodier and more tired by midafternoon than lower-fat meals are, according to a British study. Digesting fat releases a hormone called cholecystokinin, which seems to provoke a brain drain.
  6. Take a tea break. Black, green, and white teas all contain the energizing amino acid L-theanine. Brits given L-theanine plus caffeine equivalent to several cups of tea and a cup of coffee increased their speed on word and number problems and felt less tired than when they got either substance alone. (Nope, there's no L-theanine in coffee.)
  7. Catch a cat nap. Close your office door or slip out to your car for a quick snooze. In NASA-funded research, a siesta boosted the performance of long-haul airline pilots by 34%. (Air-traffic controllers lobbying for nap times take note.)
  8. Splash your face. If even a 20-minute nap leaves you groggy, stop in the restroom and splash cool water on your face. Volunteers who did this in one study felt the most awake after a snooze. Surprisingly, having coffee just before your nap and then splashing your face afterward seems to be the perfecta of wake-up calls.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Acupuncture Can Increase Weight Loss

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese traditional medicine (TCM) that goes back thousands of years. Traditional acupuncturists believe that illness occurs when the body’s vital energy cannot flow freely.
If one of the energy points (chakras) becomes blocked, this can result in problems.

By using tiny needles and placing them at various different acupuncture points, any blocked energy can be released, restoring the body’s overall physical, mental and emotional balance.

Often, a person who is overweight is blamed for eating too much but this may not be the case. 
Being overweight or obese can be caused by underlying illnesses such as thyroid dysfunction, polycystic ovaries or diabetes, to name just a few.

Acupuncture isn’t a magic instant fix where you stick a few needles in and suddenly begin to lose weight, but it can be used to address any underlying health issues that are causing weight gain and thus help to correct the problem.

Is There Scientific Evidence for Acupuncture?

Yes! Acupuncture for weight loss is used widely in China and there are many published scientific papers showing that it can help.

For instance, a study at Nanjing College of TCM found that acupuncture affected the sympathetic adrenal system and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal system and helped them to function better, resulting in weight loss.

A study in Poland looking at post-menopausal obesity in women who qualified for hormone replacement therapy, found that acupuncture with a low calorie diet was more successful at treating menopausal obesity than the low calorie diet alone.

The authors concluded, "Acupuncture seems to be an additional useful healing method in treatment of menopausal obesity."

A more recent study held at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Kaohsiung Medical Center in Taiwan in 2010 found that a new method of acupuncture, laser acupuncture, had a therapeutic effect on people with obesity.

Researchers recorded the patient’s body weights and body mass index before treatment and four weeks after treatment, and found that acupuncture resulted in a mean reduction in body weight of 3.17kgs and in a body mass index reduction of 1.22kgs.

The authors concluded, "Acupuncture was found to exert a therapeutic effect on simple obesity by reducing both body weight and body mass index."

Acupuncture Can Suppress Appetite!

Acupuncture has also been shown to help you lose weight by suppressing your appetite and lessening those urges to snack on unhealthy foods. 
Researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia found that if they attached a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation device called an AcuSlim to acupuncture points on the ear and stomach, they could help the patient lose weight.

Sixty overweight patients were put on a slimming diet. One group was then given the AcuSlim stimulation of their ear and stomach acupuncture points, and the other group was given the AcuSlim stimulation on their thumb (where there are no acupuncture points).
Only four of the patients in the thumb group managed to lose any weight, whereas the number of people losing weight in the ear and stomach group was significantly higher and 95 percent of them noticed a reduction in appetite.

The authors concluded, "Frequent stimulation of specific auricular acupuncture points is an effective method of appetite suppression which leads to weight loss."
These are just a few examples of the scientific evidence that is available showing acupuncture assisting in weight loss.

A Word of Warning
If you see any Chinese herbalists advertising weight loss pills in their window or on a website, DON’T take these pills. They are diuretics. They make you lose water.

While this may help you to lose weight initially, it is actually dangerous and may affect your metabolism and actually increase your weight in the long term.

Acupuncture on its own or with a sensible diet is perfectly good enough at treating weight problems and you do not need to take diuretic pills.

If you wish to find a reputable acupuncturist, please go to the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture to find an acupuncture physician near you:

1. Acupuncture for Weight Loss, The London Acupuncture Clinic. Web. 6 June 2012.
2. What is Traditional Acupuncture? Web. 6 June 2012.
3. Effect of acupuncture on weight loss evaluated by adrenal function, J Tradit Chin Med. 1993 Sep;13(3):169-73.
4. [The effectiveness of low-calorie diet or diet with acupuncture treatment in obese peri- and postmenopausal women], Ginekol Pol. 2003 Feb;74(2):102-7.
5. Clinical observations on laser acupuncture in simple obesity therapy, Am J Chin Med. 2010;38(5):861-7.
6. Stimulation of auricular acupuncture points in weight loss, Aust Fam Physician. 1998 Jul;27 Suppl 2:S73-7.

Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, She is the mother of five children and practices natural childbirth, delayed cord clamping, full term breastfeeding and organic food diet.

Reviewed June 6, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Saturday, April 23, 2011 As of 12:00 AM         U.S. NEWS

The Wall Street Journal

Can Needles Soothe Wounded Warriors?

Military doctors in Afghanistan are using acupuncture to treat brain injuries, with promising results

Bryan Denton for the Wall Street Journal

Marine Lance Cpl. Tristan Bell was injured in a jarring explosion that tore apart his armored vehicle, slammed a heavy radio into the back of his head and left him tortured by dizziness, insomnia, headaches and nightmares.
He is recovering on a padded table at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, beneath strings of soft, white Christmas lights, with the dulcet notes of "Tao of Healing" playing on an iPod and a forest of acupuncture needles sprouting from his head, ear, hands and feet.
In a bit of battlefield improvisation, the Navy is experimenting with acupuncture and soothing atmospherics to treat Marines suffering from mild cases of traumatic brain injury, commonly called concussions—the most prevalent wound of the Afghan war.
After hitting on the idea in late November, Cmdr. Keith Stuessi used acupuncture, along with the music and lights, to treat more than 20 patients suffering from mild brain injuries.
All but two or three saw marked improvements, including easier sleep, reduced anxiety and fewer headaches, he says. Cmdr. Earl Frantz, who replaced Cmdr. Stuessi at Camp Leatherneck last month, has taken charge of the acupuncture project and treated 28 more concussion patients.

"I think a couple years down the road, this will be standard care," predicts Cmdr. Stuessi, a sports-medicine specialist turned acupuncture acolyte. "At some point you have to drink the Kool-Aid, and I have drunk the Kool-Aid."
While researchers are still investigating how exactly it works, studies have found that acupuncture can help relieve pain, stress and a range of other conditions.
The newest Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs clinical guidelines recommend acupuncture as a supplementary therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, pain, anxiety and sleeplessness.
The VA is recruiting candidates for a study of acupuncture's effectiveness in treating PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Based on other studies of its benefits, "there is good reason to believe that acupuncture will induce recovery across a number of trauma spectrum dysfunctions in patients with TBI and PTSD, at low cost and with little risk," the VA wrote.

In 2008, the Navy put Cmdr. Stuessi, a 44-year-old from Wales, Wis., and a handful of other doctors through a 300-hour acupuncture course.
When he came to Afghanistan in August to create a clinic to treat concussions and minor physical injuries, the commander brought his collapsible needling table.
He expected to use it for the usual array of sprained ankles and sore backs.

Once at Camp Leatherneck, though, Cmdr. Stuessi stumbled across an article about using acupuncture to treat PTSD and realized many of the symptoms overlapped with those of mild traumatic brain injury: insomnia, headache, memory deficit, attention deficit, irritability and anxiety.

Lance Cpl. Bell, 22, from Billings, Mont., was patrolling a ridgeline in mid-January when the Marines in his vehicle spotted a half-buried bomb in the road ahead. They backed up onto a second booby-trap, leaving five of the seven crewmen, including Lance Cpl. Bell, unconscious. He took medicine, but the headaches and insomnia grew relentless as the days passed. "If I took a nap, I'd have nightmares and crazy dreams," he says. "I don't take naps."
He was waiting to see his regular doctor when Cmdr. Stuessi invited him to watch another Marine get acupuncture.
The lance corporal hates needles, but he was getting desperate.
The back of his head throbbed so hard it made his eyes hurt. "I thought, 'Something has to change here—I want to get back out there,' " he recalls.
The night after his first session, he slept eight hours, twice what he had managed before. Soon he was returning eagerly every three days, when the benefits began to fade.
He made a recent visit after a bad night, in which he woke up disoriented, headed out for a smoke and hit his head on the bunk bed.
When Lance Cpl. Bell showed up at Cmdr. Stuessi's plywood office in a green Marine Corps sweatshirt and camouflage pants, the doctor turned off the overhead fluorescent light and switched on a string of Christmas lights his wife had shipped him.
He shuffled his iPod from "Mack the Knife" to the flute notes of his healing music.
He slipped one needle into the top of the Marine's head, and more into his left ear and hands. As he worked, he spoke softly of "chi," which he described as the rush of numbness or warmth when the needle hits the spot, and "shen men," a point in the ear connected to anxiety and stress. "This is Liver Three," he said, sliding a needle into Lance Cpl. Bell's left foot and moving it until the Marine felt the desired effect.
"Right there," murmured Lance Cpl. Bell, letting his eyelids fall closed.

A 2008 RAND Corp. study found that one in five troops who serve in Iraq or Afghanistan suffers traumatic brain injury, ranging from severe head wounds to more common concussions. Standard treatment for the latter can involve painkillers, antianxiety medication, sleeping pills, counseling and group therapy.
Acupuncture immediately appeared to speed recovery, Cmdr. Stuessi says.
His first patient, unable to sleep more than four hours a night despite two weeks of standard treatment, put in 10 hours the night after his initial needling. Most other patients have seen similar results.
Cmdr. Stuessi is unsure why acupuncture eases concussions. A few of Lance Cpl. Bell's buddies remain unconvinced.
Lance Cpl. Dominic Collins, who shared a vehicle with Lance Cpl. Bell, was plagued by headaches after the bombing. One night in February, he dreamed he was being mortared. He rolled out of his bunk to take cover.
He declined the clinic's offer of acupuncture. "It's kind of not my thing," he says. "I have tattoos, but it's the idea of getting stuck" that puts him off.
One Marine tried jokingly to discourage Cpl. Francisco Sanchez, who hit two mines in one day, from using acupuncture by making him sit through an action movie in which the hero stabs the villain with a needle in the back of the neck. The villain's eyes bleed. Then he dies.

But word has spread around camp, and Marines with everything from job stress to snuff addiction now plead for acupuncture.
"All we can say is we've learned from the Chinese on this," Cmdr. Stuessi says. "They've been doing this for a couple thousand years."
Write to Michael M. Phillips at

Friday, June 15, 2012

On smoking, your skin and Chinese Medicine

Not only will you be healthier once you quit smoking, but your skin will look better too.

It is a well known fact that smoking affects the quality of your skin by drying it out, therefore prematurely aging it.
The result: wrinkles around your mouth and your eyes that come from the repetitive motion of puckering your lips every time you inhale and squinting your eyes to avoid smoke.
(You can usually recognize a smoker or an ex-smoker by the multitude of fine lines around their lips)

How do cigarettes affect your skin from a Western Medical standpoint?

Dr. Lowell Dale at the Mayo Clinic says: "the nicotine in cigarettes causes narrowing of the blood vessels in the outermost layers of your skin. This impairs blood flow to your skin.
With less blood flow, your skin doesn't get as much oxygen and important nutrients, such as
vitamin A.
Many of the more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke also damage collagen and elastin, which are fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity.
As a result, skin begins to sag and wrinkle prematurely because of smoking. "

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Lungs 'rule' the skin, the pores, hair, the nose, respiration and water metabolism.
The Lungs are considered a very 'delicate' organ susceptible to internal or external heat.

Since smoking involves heat, it can directly damage your Lung "yin" which is the moisture in your lungs.
When there is less moisture available, the lung will hold on to it for respiration and disperse less of it  to the other organs.
This can result in having dry skin, brittle hair, slow healing wounds, chronic cough, wheezing, Asthma and recurrent nose bleeds due to dry nasal passages.

Based on these theories and facts, it is therefore no surprise that the health of your lungs DIRECTLY affects your skin.

When I assist patients to quit smoking through Auricular or regular Acupuncture, there are ALWAYS some Lung points involved to correct imbalances.
Likewise, when I prescribe herbal formulas to assist in the detoxification process, many of the herbs target the lungs specifically and aim at replenishing the lost moisture and improve their overall health.

Research shows that it takes only 2 weeks to 3 months to improve overall circulation and increase lung function by one-third.
Damage can be reversed in most cases and your risk of getting Lung cancer decreases by 50% ten years after you have quit smoking.

With a diet high in antioxidants, vitamin B supplements and some acupuncture, you can beat this....

So why not quit to look and feel your best?

If you are ready, and only if you are ready, call your favorite acupuncturist !

Acupuncture, Hypnosis May Help People Quit Smoking: Study

Reuters  |  Posted:        Updated: 05/08/2012 12:31 am

(Reuters) - Acupuncture and hypnosis have been promoted as drug-free ways to help smokers kick the habit, and there is some evidence that they work, according to a research review that looked at 14 international studies.

Researchers, whose findings appeared in the American Journal of Medicine, said that there are still plenty of questions, including exactly how effective alternative therapies might be and how they measure up against conventional methods to quit smoking.

But the alternatives should still stand as options for smokers determined to break the habit, said researchers led by Mehdi Tahiri of McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

In general, smokers who want to quit should first try the standard approaches, which include nicotine-replacement therapy, medications and behavioral counseling, Tahiri said.

"But some people are not interested in medication," he said, adding that in many cases the standard therapies had not worked. "Then I think we should definitely recommend (acupuncture and hypnosis) as choices."

Researchers found that some studies showed that smokers subjected to acupuncture were more than three times as likely to be tobacco-free six months to a year later.

Similarly, across four trials of hypnosis, smokers had a higher success rate with the therapy compared to people who had minimal help.

But there were some caveats, researchers said. The success rate was not consistent in all the tests conducted, although the broad trends pointed to the benefits of alternate treatment.

A 2008 study that ran a few sessions of laser acupuncture on 258 smokers found that 55 percent who'd received the treatment quit the habit in six months, compared with four percent who were not given the treatment.

But a 2007 study from Taiwan that looked at needle acupuncture around the ear, the area typically targeted for smoking cessation, reported a lower success rate.

Only nine percent of those who were given acupuncture had quit after six months compared with six percent who stopped smoking without the treatment.

The situation was similar across the hypnosis trials. Two studies showed a significant impact : 20 to 45 percent of hypnosis patients were smoke-free six months to a year later. The other two trials showed smaller effects.

Nonetheless, Tahiri said, there was a "trend" toward a benefit across all of the studies of acupuncture and hypnosis.

There are still definitely questions, he added, about how many sessions of acupuncture or hypnosis might be necessary, or which specific techniques are best.

Other research reviews, though, have concluded that the jury is still out on alternative therapies for quitting smoking.


(Reporting from New York by Amy Norton at Reuters Health; editing by Elaine Lies and Sanjeev Miglani)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cinnamon, the super spice....


Who doesn’t love a sprinkling of cinnamon on fresh apple pie or atop a chai latte? It’s just one of those spices that tastes fantastic. But taste is not the only reason to love cinnamon. Here are 10 health reasons (plus an extra reason) to love this super spice:

1. Numerous studies show that cinnamon regulates blood sugar, making it a great choice for diabetics and hypoglycemics alike. That’s also great news for anyone who wants stable energy levels and moods.

2. It reduces LDL cholesterol levels. LDL is also known as the harmful cholesterol. Reducing it may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

3. It has natural anti-infectious compounds. In studies, cinnamon has been effective against ulcer-causing H. pylori bacteria and other pathogens.

4. It reduces pain linked to arthritis. Cinnamon has been shown in studies at the Department of Internal Medicine, Kangnam Korean Hospital, to reduce cytokines linked to arthritic pain.

5. Research at the University of Texas, published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, shows that cinnamon may reduce the proliferation of cancer cells, holding promise for cancer prevention and sufferers of the disease.

6. It is a natural food preservative.

7. It contains fiber, calcium, iron, and manganese—albeit small amounts to the typical dose of ground cinnamon.

8. It’s been proven effective for menstrual pain and

9. infertility. Cinnamon contains a natural chemical called cinnamaldehyde, which studies show increases the hormone progesterone and decreases testosterone production in women, helping to balance hormones.

10. Cinnamon holds promise for various neurodegenerative diseases, including: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, and meningitis, according to research at the Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas. Their research shows that cinnamon reduces chronic inflammation linked with these neurological disorders.

Eat them up, Yum!

The Power of surprise to those of us practicing Chinese Medicine....

Ginseng For Cancer Patients Says Mayo Clinic

06 Jun 2012  

In a trial led by the Mayo Clinic, the herb commonly known as American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), showed good results in helping cancer patients with fatigue, when compared with a placebo.

The findings, which will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting, looked at 340 patients who were either in the post treatment phase or under going cancer treatment. 60% of the patients had breast cancer. Each day, the patients who were being treated at one of 40 different community medical centers were given 2,000 milligrams of pure American ginseng root in a capsule.

Researcher Debra Barton, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center is quick to point out that quality of the herb is very important and people shouldn't necessarily rush to their health food store and start taking any old ginseng. She goes on to say: "Off-the-shelf ginseng is sometimes processed using ethanol, which can give it estrogen-like properties that may be harmful to breast cancer patients."

There wasn't a great improvement after four weeks, obviously the herb took some time to work its magic, but at the eight week mark there was a sudden jump in the general energy levels reported by the group on ginseng when compared to the placebo group. General exhaustion diminished rapidly in those taking the Ginseng supplement.

Dr. Barton says the herb had no apparent side effects in the patients taking it, and comments: "After eight weeks, we saw a 20-point improvement in fatigue in cancer patients, measured on a 100-point, standardized fatigue scale." lists a variety of possible side effects of American Ginseng, including varying blood pressure, headache, nervousness, skin rash and vaginal bleeding. It also makes clear to differentiate between Panax, Siberian and American Ginseng, which are considered to have different properties.

Interestingly, American ginseng contains a chemical group called ginsenosides, presumably a name made up after the name of the herb. These active ingredients are thought to act upon insulin levels to help lower blood sugar. Other chemicals include polysaccharides, which most likely have some effect on the immune system.

Ginseng is well known for its properties in treating a variety of ailments, including fatigue, stress, diabetes, insomnia and it's often touted as a good for erectile dysfunction, while some people swear by it as a good hang over cure. It's become so popular in recent years that some states have threatened to add it to a protected list to prevent people picking the wild variety that grows in the United States.

As many as 90% of all cancer patients report a debilitating fatigue, as the immune system struggles against inflammatory cytokines and the hormone known as cortisol becomes unbalanced. Cortisol effects how the body regulates stress. Ginseng has been shown in animal studies to act upon both these factors, reducing inflammation, and regulating cortisol.

Whether by accident or design, many of these kinds of herbal fix alls are ridiculed by the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry. Echinacea the old wives cure for the common cold came under attack recently with research showing that it had no effect on helping against flu or a cold. I am sure that many people would disagree with that from their own personal experiences, and it's nice to see Ginseng, that has been touted for centuries as a trusted herbal remedy, getting the recognition it deserves.

While people should always be wary to avoid snake oil and magic potions, there simply has to be some common sense to some of these old herbal remedies. Until recently, it seems there hasn't been much incentive for putting the time and money into funding scientific research on a scale comparable to that required for regulating industrially manufactured pharmaceutical products.

Written by Rupert Shepherd
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today


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