American College of Physicians list Acupuncture as top Treatment for Back Pain

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Here are some excerpts from this week’s Wall Street Journal article explaining the latest recommendations from the American College of Physicians on the treatment of Back Pain.  They list Acupuncture as the top choice for both acute and chronic back pain.

Skip the meds. Lower back pain—one of the most common reasons for a doctor’s visit—is best treated with alternative therapies, say new guidelines from the American College of Physicians. About 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes and it is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days.

The new guidelines could influence how doctors treat patients with complaints of back pain. They are an update from 2007’s and include a review of more than 150 studies. Recommendations were broken down into acute lower back pain, which is pain lasting less than 12 weeks, and chronic pain, which is pain lasting more than 12 weeks.

For acute pain, the guidelines recommend nondrug therapies first, such as applying heat, massage, acupuncture or spinal manipulation, which is often done by a chiropractor.

For chronic back pain, the guidelines recommend patients also first try nondrug therapies, such as acupuncture, exercise, rehabilitation therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction.

The reviews focused on improving pain and function If such treatments fail to provide relief, the ACP says NSAIDS should be the first medicine that is used. The third line of treatment should be duloxetine—sold under the brand name Cymbalta and commonly used to treat depression and anxiety—or tramadol, an opioid-like narcotic which is less potent than standard opioids such as oxycodone or fentanyl—but can still cause physical dependence.

Opioids—one of the most commonly prescribed medications for pain relief and a source of increasing addiction and death—should only be considered for chronic back pain when other alternatives—natural and prescription—don’t work, say the guidelines published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The new guidelines warn that opioids should only be considered an option if the doctor and patient have a discussion about the known risks of the drugs, and if used at the lowest possible dose for the shortest period. Experts believe that opioid prescriptions for pain is a common gateway to opioid addiction as well as transitioning to heroin, said Steven Atlas, director of practice-based research at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Even acetaminophen, which includes the brand name Tylenol, is no longer recommended for acute lower back pain relief due to a 2014 study in the journal The Lancet that showed it was no more effective than placebo.

Pain can begin abruptly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy. More often, though, it develops over time due to age-related changes of the spine and disc degeneration.  Most back pain occurs between ages 30 and 50. Individuals who gain weight and don’t exercise have increased risk, as are those who exercise intensely after long periods of not exercising.

If you are in Orlando and have Back Problems call our clinic for a Free Consultation appointment at our Winter Park office to see if Acupuncture can help you!  If you live outside of Central Florida feel free to call us for a referral in your local area.

Acupuncture Treats Rheumatoid Arthritis

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While preparing a presentation for the annual Juvenile Arthritis conference, I came across a great article by the Arthritis Foundation called, Can Acupuncture help Relieve RA?  The article presents the results of several research studies that show that acupuncture does indeed help to relieve the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis as well as Osteoarthritis.  The article details acupuncture effects to reduce pain in both the central nervous system (the brain), as well as the peripheral nervous system (the rest of the body, including the joints).

The article not only explains the particulars of how acupuncture relieves arthritis pain, but it also explains how acupuncture has been shown to lower chemical markers of chronic inflammation. One such marker that was reduced in the acupuncture group in the study is called TNF-α. This research suggests that acupuncture has the potential to slow down the progression of the disease.  Dr. Nathan Wei, MD, director of the Arthritis Treatment Center in Frederick, MD. explains. “In particular, TNF-α appears to play a pivotal role in the chronic inflammation and joint destruction that characterizes RA. That’s why so many of the biologic medications such as Enbrel, Humira, and  Remicade target TNF-α.

The article goes on to cite other studies where acupuncture has been shown to reduce other markers of inflammation.  It also mentions a very interesting statistic. In a 2010 Mayo Clinic survey, 54 percent of rheumatologists said they would recommend acupuncture as an adjunct treatment.

The article quotes Jamie Starkey, LAc, the lead acupuncturist for the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, and Jeffrey I. Gold, PhD, director of the Pediatric Pain Management Clinic at a Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles who treats patients with juvenile arthritis.  It gives people a real idea about the process of acupuncture treatment.  It is not a onetime thing.  It takes a series of treatments to get good results, but the success rate they report is about 80%, which is very similar to what we see in our clinic, Orlando Acupuncture.

If you know someone, young or old, who is suffering from arthritis please share this blog post with them and encourage them to talk to an acupuncturist to see if acupuncture might help them.

To learn more about our clinic, Orlando Acupuncture , please visit our website. You can also give us a call for a Free Consultation to see if we can help.

Find Headache and Migraine Relief That Lasts

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The month of June is National Headache and Migraine Awareness month which made me want to write a blog post regarding the reasons we get headaches and migraines and what we can determine by paying attention to the symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic there are two classifications of headaches. There are Primary headaches and Secondary headaches. A Primary headache is the most common and is typically caused from: stress, a skipped meal, dehydration, lack of or change in sleep, high blood pressure, alcohol, or something you ate. Primary headaches are not due to an underlying disease in the body, they are due to lifestyle factors. These headaches are a sign your body is sending as a way to inform you that something is wrong.

If you are getting headaches regularly but know that it isn’t due to one of the lifestyle factors listed above, it could very well be a sign from your body that there is a larger underlying issue at hand. Secondary headaches are a symptom of a disease that can activate the pain-sensitive nerves of the head. Any number of conditions – varying greatly in severity – may cause Secondary headaches.  These headaches are important to pay attention to. Most people suffering from these types of headaches will grab any over-the-counter medication to help with the pain, while others will go see a neurologist for consultation, advice, and of course prescription pills. What if these headaches and migraines could be effectively treated without the need for pills or costly specialists?

Surprisingly for people in the Western world, acupuncture has been used for treating migraines and headaches for the last 2,500+ years and now it has taken a foothold in the medical community. According to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, “Acupuncture helps reduce days with migraines and may have lasting effects.”  While there are many undesirable effects associated with medication and traditional treatments, acupuncture has no associated side effects at all, which gives the patient a sense of hope. The better news, however, is that many migraine patients express a sense of relief after receiving a acupuncture treatment, and many more say that continual acupuncture sessions can lessen the intensity and frequency of these intense and painful headaches. This is very exciting news for those suffering!

If you want to learn more about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you get rid of your headaches or migraines for good, visit our website or give us a call for a Free Consultation.

The Skinny on Bone Broth

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Bone broth, or soup as I call it, is one of my favorite diet recommendations to give to patients.  I have been recommending it for years and it is finally hitting the mainstream consciousness.  One reason why I recommend this to so many people is that it is an easy way to add a lot of nutrition to any diet.  It is also loaded with good fats, and is easy to digest, which makes it a perfect food to promote healthy weight loss.

My favorite way to make bone broth is the method I learned during my nutrition class in Chinese Medical School.  You basically take a whole organic chicken and several slices of ginger and simmer these in water for 2-4 hours.  At the end you need to cut up the meat and add any mushrooms or veggies you want and soy sauce for flavor, but that is pretty much it.

I try to make broth every week or two, and keep it in the refrigerator.  Sometimes I use it as soup, but mostly I like to use it to replace water in cooking rice, steaming veggies, etc.  I find that it adds good flavor to pretty much any recipe.

The importance of getting bones from non-toxic (organic or free range) animals is vital for good results from bone broth. This is true both for the taste and the nutritional value or the broth. These days I usually get the organic chicken from Costco, although I noticed that Trader Joe’s has these at a great price as well.  I also like to simmer the organ meat that comes with these chickens when making soup as it adds to the overall nutrition of the soup.

The most complete resource on Bone Broth, that I know of, is the book, Nourishing Broth,  by Sally Morell.  (It’s available online at amazon.)  This book is loaded with information on the health benefits of bone broth.  Dr. Mercola also has a great article about bone broth including a couple of recipes which you can find here.

Visit our website if you want to learn more about Chinese dietary therapy and how it can help you achieve permanent weight loss.

Fall Squash Soup

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Chinese Medicine considers winter squash such as kombucha, delicata, seminole pumpkin, and butternut to be some of the healthiest foods around. They have special properties to balance the blood sugar, and taste great!  Here is one of my favorite recopies for squash soup.  It is very easy, and you can use any variety of winter squash you like.  My favorite is the Seminole Pumpkin because it is grown locally and organically by my friend Jim Hunter over at South Seminole Farm and Nursery.  I hope that you enjoy!

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 medium shallots, minced (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 3 pounds butternut squash, kombucha squash, or seminole pumpkin (about 1 large), unpeeled, squash halved lengthwise, seeds and stringy fibers scraped with spoon and reserved (about 1/4 cup), and each half cut into quarters
  • 6 Cups water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat until foaming; add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add squash scrapings and seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and butter turns saffron color, about 4 minutes. Add 6 cups water and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to Dutch oven and bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low, place squash cut-side down in steamer basket, and lower basket into pot. Cover and steam until squash is completely tender, about 30 minutes. Off heat, use tongs to transfer squash to rimmed baking sheet; reserve steaming liquid. When cool enough to handle, use large spoon to scrape flesh from skin into medium bowl; discard skin.
  2. Pour reserved steaming liquid through mesh strainer into second bowl; discard solids in strainer. Rinse and dry Dutch oven.
  3. In blender, puree squash and reserved liquid in batches, pulsing on low until smooth. Transfer puree to Dutch oven; stir in cream, brown sugar, and optional seasonings if desired, and heat over medium-low heat until hot. Add salt to taste; serve immediately.

Source:  Silky Butternut Squash Soup, from Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required)

Want to learn more about natural health, Acupuncture, or Chinese Medicine?  Visit us online at OrlandoAcupuncture.com

Hidden Health Risks in Beauty Products

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Europe’s regulatory system bans close to 1,400 ingredients in cosmetic products, including carcinogens like parabens and toxic chemicals that can cause reproductive and developmental-health risks. The United States bans 11. Here are the top few on the watch list from Consumer Reports, found in their publication, ShopSmart.

  • Formaldehyde releasers and 1,4 dioxane, both possible carcinogens, may be found in some anti-wrinkle creams, mascaras, makeup removers, hair conditioners and body washes. They can contain preservatives that release formaldehyde over time when mixed with water. Avoid products with quaternium-15 and DMDM hydantoin listed as ingredients.
  • Phthalates. Diethyl phthalate (DEP), which is found in fragrance, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), a plasticizer in nail polish, have both been deemed toxic by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. Steer clear of products with ingredients lists that include the word “fragrance,” and look for nail polishes that do not have DEP or DBP in the ingredients lists.
  • Triclosan and Triclocarban. Found in hand and body washes, deodorants, toothpastes, and some cosmetics, these antibacterial agents can affect reproductive growth and developmental systems. Choose products that do not list triclosan or triclocarban on their ingredients list.

 

Solution: Lisa Freeman, the editor of Consumer Report’s ShopSmart Magazine, says the easiest way to avoid phthalates, formaldehyde, nanomaterials and other potentially harmful chemicals is to shop for health and beauty aids at Whole Foods Market.Toxic Chemicals

Meaningful Labels

The terms “natural,” “dermatologist tested,” and “hypoallergenic” aren’t meaningful because they aren’t independently verified. Below are some examples of terms and seals that are legit according to ShopSmart’s safety experts:

  • USDA Organic. Requires that at least 95 percent of the ingredients be organically grown and prohibits the use of all potentially harmful synthetic ingredients.
  • Natural Products Association Certified (NPA) and Design for the Environment (DfE).Standards include bans on triclosan, phthalates, formaldehyde, and formaldehyde releasers.
  • Non-GMO Project Verified. The product contains no genetically engineered ingredients. 

Beauty Product Shopping Apps

When shopping for beauty products, ShopSmart recommends using these free apps to evaluate ingredients and help narrow down choices: Think Dirty, Skin Deep Cosmetics, and GoodGuide.

 

Sources: http://www.courant.com/business/connecticut/hc-bottom-line-cosmetics-hazards-20140721,0,7142273.column – The Courrant – 7/21/14, http://pressroom.consumerreports.org/pressroom/2014/07/my-entry-2.html – Consumer Reports – 7/15/14

Poor Posture May Lead to Lack of Confidence and Additional Stress

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What can cause poor posture?

Cell Phones: The hunched-over position of the typical electronic-device user is of particular concern, and is sparking new back and neck-pain problems in teenagers. A study of 6,000 Finnish adolescents found frequent use of computers, mobile phones, videogame players and television was associated with greater rates of neck and lower-back pain.

Weight & Shoes – Lordosis, or swayback, is where the lower spine curves inward, toward the front of the body, and the butt is thrust backward. Overweight people often display this posture, as do women wearing high heels.

Computers: One of the most common posture problems, called kyphosis, is a direct result of spending too much time in front of a computer, experts say. The shoulders hunch forward, the pectoral muscles in the chest tighten, the neck and head extend toward the computer screen, and the spine is no longer vertically aligned.

What is proper posture?

Good posture doesn’t just mean standing with the shoulders thrown back. More important is maintaining good alignment, with ears over the shoulders, shoulders over hips, and hips over the knees and ankles. Body weight should be distributed evenly between the feet

What can poor posture cause?

Pain – incorrect posture will place additional strain on all parts of your body, particularly on your lower back and neck. If you keep correct posture, you will be protecting your spine, organs, joints, muscles and bones, helping to prevent the onset of conditions such as arthritis.

Depression – New research is also demonstrating links between body position and mood. It has long been known that depression can lead to a slumped posture. But new evidence suggests the reverse is also true—that slouching can spark negative emotions and thoughts

How does poor posture lead to stress?

Bad posture restricts breathing, and reduces the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Without regular oxygen to the brain, you cannot always think straight, making it easier to feel panicked or overwhelmed.

Can good posture lead to more self confidence?

This picture from the Washington post illustrates what happens to our spine when we type on a keyboard and stare at a computer. Along the bottom are exercises you can do to improve posture

Sitting - Washington Post

Top: X-ray illustration of the effects on the spine from prolonged sitting. Middle: Illustration of proper way to sit in a chair. Bottom: Exercises used to help improve posture

 

Sitting 2

Woman in pain after a long day of sitting at a workstation

Yes, no matter what you feel inside, if you stand tall, the feelings will likely follow. Just as the simple act of smiling can release serotonin even when you are depressed posture can trigger a better mental attitude. You might even enter a positive feedback loop, where other people respond to you in such a way as to confirm these initially faked emotions. Also note that an erect posture inspires a sense of power, a sense of control, boosts testosterone, and sooths nerves by turning down the anxiety-linked hormone known as cortisol.

Sources: Wall Street Journal Article June 23, 2014 http://online.wsj.com/articles/how-bad-sitting-posture-at-work-leads-to-bad-standing-posture-all-the-time-1403564767, Psychology Today Article June 19, 2013 http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-winner-effect/201306/can-your-posture-make-you-feel-in-control-and-less-stressed How Good Posture can Relieve Stress, Above Stress.com, February 9, 2012, http://abovestress.com/stress-relief-community-what-good-posture-can-do-for-stress-levels.html, Spine and Health.com, August 6, 2012 – http://spineandhealth.com.au/is-your-stress-giving-you-bad-posture