Chinese Medicine and Restless Legs

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Restless Leg Syndrome, an irresistible urge to move one’s body to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. The symptoms from RLS can range from just annoying to a serious health issue because it disrupts one’ normal sleep cycle.  This Blog looks at the causes of Restless Leg and the Chinese Medical approach to treatment.

Why do people get Restless Legs Syndrome?

Understand that the terminology used by Chinese Medicine to describe the physiology (functioning) of the human body in is slightly different than Western Medicine, but the conclusions are the same. In Chinese Medicine, RLS  is an example of Feng or “Wind” disease caused by too much Re, “Heat” and/or not enough Xue, “Blood”. So what does that mean in English? It means that there is an imbalance in the neurotransmitters (chemicals that control muscle function). Either there are too many stimulating neurotransmitters such as Acetylcholine (too much “Heat”), and/or not enough inhibitory neurotransmitters such as GABA (“Blood deficiency”)

How Does Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture help Restless Legs Syndrome?

If you have the excess (too much “Heat”) type of RLS or PLMD, Acupuncture can help to balance or reduce the neurotransmitters that are causing the excess muscle movements and pain. This balancing effect also helps if you have the deficient type of RLS, although supplementation may be needed to get the levels of inhibitory neurotransmitters back to normal. Sometimes nutritional supplements such as Natural Calcium, Iron, or Magnesium may be very helpful for RLS patients who are low in these nutrients. Other times a Chinese Herbal formula may be needed to resupply the nutrients needed to make enough inhibitory neurotransmitters to get rid of the restless leg problem.

Are there any studies that show Acupuncture can help?

Yes there are!

In one study titled, “Observation on therapeutic effect of acupuncture on Restless Legs Syndrome” 158 RLS patients were randomly divided into 2 groups. Of the 79 patients who received acupuncture plus a Infrared therapy (which is commonly used during acupuncture treatments at Orlando Acupuncture). 42 patients were deemed “cured”. Another 30 cases treated with the acupuncture were deemed, “effective”. The other group was treated with L-Dopa. Both groups received treatment for 30 days. At the end of the study, the group on medication had a 30% effectiveness rate, while the acupuncture group had a 91% effectiveness.

Another study, done by YL Shi and YM Wang in 2003, had 120 RLS patients. This study also compared acupuncture therapy to western medications given over a 30 day period. The findings here were that the acupuncture group had a 48% “cure” rate (all symptoms were gone), and a 75% effectiveness rate, meaning some or all symptoms were gone or reduced.

Links to these studies are available on my website OrlandoAcupuncture.com  Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando? Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com

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Yet Another Hospital adds Acupuncture to their cancer protocol

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I was so excited to read this article about another hospital adding Acupuncture to their facility that I had to put it on my Blog.

Everyday more doctors are recommending acupuncture therapy to their patients for more than just pain relief. One of the most common uses of acupuncture in Western Medicine arena has been with cancer patients. Another hospital, this one at the University of Colorado, has included acupuncture as part of their treatment protocol for cancer patients. This represents a merging the ancient medicine with the latest modern medical techniques. Other University hospitals that integrate acupuncture and conventional treatments include the University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State, the University of Texas, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Miami, and Stanford University.

Joseph VanZale is receiving acupuncture on a regular basis as part of his cancer treatment. He says it is already helping him to cope with the side effects of chemotherapy. “My energy and my weight was going down at an incredible level.” But after weeks of acupuncture treatment by Dr. Ban Wong things have improved. VanZale says, “I’m walking without a cane, longer distances, the other day I got on a treadmill.” VanZale says acupuncture is crucial to relieving stress and the interaction with Dr. Wong lifts his spirits. Many say creating innovative medicine has been a long time coming. It’s something that gives the patient the best of both worlds.

Dr. Wong, a University Of Colorado Hospital Chinese medicine specialist, says acupuncture increases blood circulation, which can have a rejuvenating effect for patients battling nausea and other side effects of conventional cancer treatments. He says, “Studies using functional MRIs show when we do acupuncture our brain actually responds and different areas of the brain light up.” Jordan Mann, who works in the Integrative Medicine branch of the hospital says, “Traditional ancient medicine with western current medicine are bringing people the best chance they have to get well and stay well and prevent illness in the first place.” Joseph’s wife Monica says she can’t believe the difference in her husband of 48 years and is grateful that the University Of Colorado Hospital is “modern” enough to bring these two practices together for the good of patients. She says, “We have a really good normal life. Our new normal is great.”

Source: Shaul Turner, Fox 31 KDVR, 3/13/14 http://kdvr.com/2014/03/13/cu-hospital-uses-accupuncture-as-part-of-cancer-treatment/

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando?  Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com

Western Medicine catches up to 3,000 year old Chinese Wisdom that Ice delays healing.

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In 1978, Gabe Mirkin, MD coined the term RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Health care practitioners and laypersons alike are quick to recognize RICE as the ‘gold standard’ treatment for acute injury. All of my patients know that in Chinese Medicine we seldom recommend Ice for any injury. Now the very same physician who coined the term RICE, Dr. Gabe Mirkin, is admitting that there is a lack of evidence to support the therapeutic use of Ice.

Dr. Mirkin describes how ice delays healing in his 3/2014 Article, Why Ice Delays Recovery. “Inflammatory cells rush to injured tissue to start the healing process. The inflammatory cells called macrophages release a hormone called Insulin-like growth Factor (IGF-1) into the damaged tissues, which helps muscles and other injured parts to heal. However, applying ice to reduce swelling actually delays healing by preventing the body from releasing IGF-1.” He goes on to say that, “anything that reduces your immune response will also delay muscle healing. Thus, healing is delayed by: cortisone-type drugs, almost all pain-relieving medicines, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, immune suppressants that are often used to treat arthritis, cancer or psoriasis, applying cold packs or ice, and anything else that blocks the immune response to injury.”

Why is Ice therapy recommended so often if there is little evidence that it works? Well old habits die hard people, physicians, therapists, and laypersons alike are used to the RICE protocol, and so they continue to use it. The science supports the 3,000 year old Chinese theory that blood flow is the key to health and injury healing. Activities that increase blood flow such as acupuncture, stretching, and exercise improve tissue healing and repair, speeding up healing. Things that that limit blood flow, such steroid and non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications, ice, and compression impair or slow the healing process.

Even the National Athletic Trainer’s Association August 2013 position statement on the management of ankle sprains states that there is “limited” clinical evidence for ice therapy. However, they found stronger evidence that functional rehabilitation, proprioception, and balance exercises improve healing.

So, yes, it seems like “everybody” other than your Acupuncturist recommends ice for injuries. Now you know that “everybody” might not have read the research.

Sources: RICE: The End of an Ice Age, April 4, 2014 by Joshua Stone stoneathleticmedicine.com/2014/04/rice-the-end-of-an-ice-age/ http://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/ankle-sprains.pdf

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando?  Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com

Exercise is better than drugs for 3 of the top 4 causes of Death in the US

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It is obvious and amazing at the same time.  Obvious because we all know that exercise is “good for us”.  Amazing because prescription drugs are often the first thing prescribed for most of these conditions, and not exercise.  The kicker is that not only does the exercise work as well if not better, the potential “side effects” of exercise are pretty much all good ones, more energy, less stress, improved physical appearance, etc.  Whereas, most prescription medications have many possible negative side effects.  I thought this was a great study when it came out in Oct, 2013 and below is a copy of the Health Report I put out in my clinic about it.

Exercise is as effective as medications for preventing diabetes and repeat heart attacks, and it is potentially better than medication for averting additional strokes, according to an analysis published in 2013. The large-scale investigation found doctors had a better chance of preventing death in patients recovering from a heart attack or stroke by prescribing light fitness instead of pills. It is the first time scientists have compared the benefits of exercise with heart medication such as statins and beta blockers. Examining data on 340,000 patients who had been diagnosed with heart disease, chronic heart failure, a stroke or diabetes, the findings published in the British Medical Journal have been touted as revolutionary.

Researchers analyzed previous studies and found no marked change between the outcome of exercise and drugs for people who have diabetes or heart disease.  For stroke victims, the research swung overwhelmingly in favor of exercise, showing it was far more likely to prevent death than drugs. The study leader Huseyin Naci, of LSE Health and Harvard Medical School, said more people are consuming prescription drugs but far fewer are exercising. “Exercise is a potent strategy to save and extend life in coronary heart disease and other conditions,” said Mr. Naci, “We think exercise can be considered or should be considered as a viable alternative or in combination with drug therapy.”

The results showed that in three of the four conditions studied, exercise was as effective as, or possibly more effective than, drug treatments. This wasn’t the case for heart failure, a progressive weakening of the heart’s ability to pump blood to the rest of body. Exercise has also been shown to be helpful in the short term in a number of other conditions, including depression, cognition, blood pressure and cancer treatment. Mr. Naci and his colleagues plan to study some of these other diseases in future work. He cautioned that patients with existing health conditions should talk to their doctor before stopping medication.
Sources: New York Times online, Wall Street Journal Online, and CDC.gov  http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f5577   – BMJ study.

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando?  Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com

 

Eating too much added sugar may be killing you

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The following is a reprint our our clinic’s Health Report from last week.  It is about the groundbreaking study that found that consuming too much added sugar increases your risk of death from heart disease.  What is new about this research is that these effects are IN ADDITION to the known effects of sugar to cause weight gain, and the resulting increased risk of disease from weight gain alone.

Consuming too much added sugar — found in bread, soda, juice drinks, cookies and candy — increases
your risk of death from heart disease, according to a new study published in February 2014 in JAMA
Internal Medicine. “The risk of death from cardiovascular disease increases exponentially as you increase
your consumption of added sugar,” says the study’s lead author, Quanhe Yang, a senior scientist with the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rachel Johnson, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and a nutrition professor at the University
of Vermont, says, “Now we know that too much added sugar doesn’t just make us fat, it increases our
risk of death from heart disease.”  On average, adults in the US consume about 15% of their daily calories — about 300 calories a day, based on a 2,000-calorie diet — from added sugars. That’s far more than the American Heart Association’s recommendation of less than 100 to 150 calories a day, or less than 6-9 teaspoons. The World Health Organization recommends consuming less than 10% of calories from added sugars.
One can of regular soda contains about 140 calories of added sugar. That’s about 7% of the daily calories of
someone eating 2,000 calories a day. Added sugars include table sugar, brown sugar, high-fructose corn
syrup, maple syrup, honey, molasses and other caloric sweeteners in prepared and processed foods and beverages.  It does not include sugars that occur naturally in foods.
Other research has tied a high intake of added sugars, to other health conditions, including obesity, high
blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The study looked at data from
more than 31,000 people. The researchers looked at data about deaths from heart disease (heart attacks,
stroke, heart failure, hypertension), and they compared added-sugar intake to death from heart disease. They
controlled their results for a wide range of heart-disease risk factors, including high blood pressure, total
cholesterol, smoking, physical activity, diet and weight.
The paper’s senior author Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of
Public Health, says excessive intake of added sugar appears to negatively affect health in several ways. It
has been linked to the development of high blood pressure, increased triglycerides (blood fats), low HDL
(good) cholesterol, fatty liver problems, as well as making insulin less effective in lowering blood sugar.
The study found that people who consumed more than 21% of daily calories from added sugar had double
the risk of death from heart disease as those who consumed less than 10% of calories from added sugars.
People who consumed seven or more servings a week of sugar-sweetened beverages (5 cans of soda) were at
a 29% higher risk of death from heart disease than those who consumed one serving or less.

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando?  Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com

3 Ways to Make Exercise Fun

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Everyone has heard that exercise is good for you.  The web is filled with articles about the many health benefits of exercise, and new research finds that light exercise is even better than treatment with prescription drugs at preventing 3 of the top 4 causes of death in the US.  So why don’t more people exercise regularly?  I think that for most people exercise is seen as a chore, something they do not like to do.  The idea that exercise is no fun is exactly what needs to change!

Before we look at ways to make Exercise more fun let’s look at why exercise has all of these heath benefits.  Everybody knows that our bodies are made up of cells and these are organized into functional units, or tissues such as muscles, tendons, and organs.  Each one of these cells and tissues gets its nutrition from blood.  So in very simple terms better blood flow equals better health.  And guess what exercise does?  It activates our built in pump (the Heart) to increase blood flow.

Three keys to make exercise more fun:

1) Relax

The benefits from exercise come from increased blood flow.  Guess what happens when we are stressed?  We tighten up our muscles, decreasing blood flow, and limiting our physical and mental performance.  Can exercise be relaxing?  Of course!   Even in the most intense and difficult athletic endeavors such as professional sports and the Olympics you hear the best athletes say that they are at their best when they can “relax” and get into their groove.  So have a relaxed attitude when you exercise to get the most out of it.

2) Pick your favorite activity and make it exercise.

So many things can be exercise.  Simple things such as walking the dog, biking, doing yard-work, etc.  My favorite exercise is Chinese Qi Gong, or energy exercises that are the basis for what most people know as Tai- Chi. (For more info on this topic see flowing zen.com)  I like this type of exercise because it strengthens the entire body and makes you feel refreshed and energized afterwards, not tired or worn out, and it can be done indoors or outside without any equipment.

Other great ideas for exercise include going outside and playing with your children.  Simple activities such as shooting a basketball, throwing a Frisbee, etc. are great exercise. By the way, the exercise is good for you and your kids.  Here in Florida swimming is an exercise that I recommend to lots of patients because is it very low impact and can be done without aggravating joint injuries.

If you like a structured, group activity there are lots of classes at local gyms, but my favorite is to look for a local meetup group that does a sport that you enjoy, such as volleyball, racquetball, or tennis.  Activities such as Yoga can also be done in a group or individual setting.

3) Enjoy!

Once you have selected your favorite exercise or two be sure to enjoy it!  If you enjoy the activity you are much more likely to keep doing it, and guess what makes all exercise better for you?  When you actually do it! So smile when you exercise and truly enjoy it.  And if that changes, pick up something else.  Just keep going so that your exercise becomes a regular part of your daily life.  This way it will become a good, lasting habit.

So yes, I know that many of us are stuck indoors with the bitter cold of Winter right now, but Spring is just around the corner and many fun, indoor activities are excellent exercise too.  So chose your favorite physical activity, do it regularly, and enjoy!

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando?  Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com

Tips to stay Warm this Winter

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It seems strange to write a blog about how to stay warm when living in Florida, but the truth is that we are just not used to cold weather and it can be harder to adapt to something like cold when you are not used to it.  Luckily, much of China had cold weather so there are lots of natural, traditional methods to keep warm and healthy during the Winter.  These tips are also good all year long for people who work in buildings with AC set to be very cold.

1. Use warming herbs daily – some of the best Chinese warming herbs are are easy to find in most grocery stores.  These include Garlic, Ginger, Cinnamon, and Cloves.  Here are a few suggestions for their use:

Warming Tea.  My favorite blend uses cinnamon, ginger and cardamom pods.  This combination has been used for centuries in India and China for general health.  Simmer these herbs with water on the stove for 5-10 min.  If you like it sweet add some honey.  You can keep this on low heat for several hours and drink throughout the day to keep warm.

  • 2-4 cups of filtered water
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 3 slices of ginger (each slice about the size of a quarter)
  • 3-6 cardamom pods
  • 3-6 cloves

Fresh Soup.  I often like to make a fresh soup broth from any meat bones that we may have from the week (often organic chicken from Costco).  Be sure to add plenty of these warming herbs to the soup before serving.  My favorites here are the garlic and ginger.  Add them early in the cooking for a mellow flavor, or just before serving for a stronger taste.  I recommend to grate the ginger, and smash and chop the garlic to get the most benefit from them.

Add to Steamed or Stir-Fried dishes.  Whether you are cooking veggies or meats, fresh aromatic herbs like garlic and ginger are a great addition in the winter.  I like to add them like recommended above for soups.  Another option is to use Chinese 5 spice powder; it has cloves and cinnamon already in it and is easy to use.

2. Keep Active!  Regular exercise promotes blood circulation and is the body’s best defense against cold weather.  The Chinese consider cold to be one of the 6 pathogenic factors that can enter the body and cause illness.  Exercise promotes the circulation of the warm protective energy of the body, the immune system or “Wei Qi”.  That is why it is great for preventing cold from injuring the body.  However, it is important to remember not to overdo it.  If you exercise to the point of exhaustion it will temporarily weaken or diminish your immune system and then you will be more vulnerable to cold.

3. Keep a lid on it.  One of the most obvious, but sometimes overlooked ways to protect ourselves from the cold is to cover our head and necks.  The head and neck are the most vulnerable parts of the body  to heat loss.  This is because the brain is too important to allow the vasoconstriction that occurs in the arms and legs to conserve heat.  It is important to thermally insulate (cover) all of the body to keep warm, but  don’t forget to cover your neck and head with hats, hoodies, scarves, turtlenecks, etc.

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando?  Check out our website: http://www.OrlandoAcupuncture.com