News News News
CURIOUS MERIDIAN PATHWAYS: CHONG MAI AND THE HEART
The “curious” meridians of acupuncture are among the most important to diagnose and treat. From my own experience, it is always necessary to investigate the balance among these 8 channels, and whenever possible, correct all imbalances.
This is why palpation of the abdomen and certain points on the trunk are frequently checked during most courses of treatment.
One of the most important curious meridians, known as chong mai, in part regulates the menstrual cycle, and its path courses through the pelvis, the heart and the brain.
Clinically, connections between the heart and the menstrual cycle are an everyday observation in the practice of Oriental Medicine, but it is rare that Western medical science observes this phenomenon, as a result of the narrow perspective engendered by the specialization by organ system that dominates our medical training.
For this reason, our philosophy at Acupuncture Associates is always to correct any disorder of these lunar cycles, regardless of the presenting complaint.
Data from the Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation study of 686 postmenopausal women may confirm the importance of correcting abnormal cycles, as women with a history of irregular cycles had double the risk of heart attack and angina when compared with women who had regular cycles. (B. Delia Johnson, Ph.D., poster session, American Heart Association)
Although it is unknown if correcting abnormal cycles in premenopausal women will prevent later heart problems, expectation of such a result is consistent with the practices and philosophy of Chinese medicine.
HONEY MORE EFFECTIVE THAN DEXTROMETHORPHAN
It is amazing that in the 21st century doctors have not learned enough about the medicinal benefits of honey, but yet another study shows that even processed buckwheat honey is “significantly superior to both dextromethorphan and no treatment” in a study of 105 pediatric patients.
The drug bias of researchers is highlighted by the statement by the lead researcher, Dr. Ian M. Paul, there is “no scientific evidence to support” the use of honey. In fact, there is massive clinical and scientific support for the medicinal uses of raw honey. (Arch. Pediatr. Adolesc. Med. 2007;161:1140-6)
TAI CHI HELPS PREVENT FALLS
A Korean study compared 29 older adults (mean age 77.8 years) who undertook a Sun-style Tai Chi exercise program (three sessions a week for 12 weeks) with 30 controls of similar age.
The Tai Chi practitioners were found to have improved physical strength in the knee and ankle, greater flexibility and mobility, and a reduction in risk of falls.
An estimated 30% of people living in the community fall each year and this rises to 50% among people in long-term care facilities. (Journal of Advanced Nursing, Volume 51 Issue 2 Page 150 - July 2005).
TAI CHI IN THE COMMUNITY
A study was set up to determine whether Tai Chi taught and practiced in a community setting had similar benefits to studies conducted in laboratory settings.
Researchers in Hong Kong recruited 51 beginners (aged 29 to 72) to take part in a 12-week Cheng style Tai Chi class (three 90-minute sessions weekly at 7.30 am).
After the twelve weeks, participants showed increases in postural stability and improvements in flexibility, scored higher on "reach" tests, and had a decrease in resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure rates (1.86 points and 0.51 points per patient respectively).
86% said that practicing tai chi made them more aware of their own health status and lifestyle, 67% reported exercising more than they had at the start of the program, 9% said they had changed their diet to eat more healthy foods, 12% reported losing weight and 23% stated that they were able to relax better.
Among a further group of 49 experienced practitioners (six months or more), it was found that their resting heart rate (71.18 beats per minute) was lower than that of the novice practitioners (74.7) and that they had greater hand grip strength and flexibility, indicating that the benefits of Tai Chi accumulate with longer practice. (Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, April 2005;86:619-25).
TAI CHI IMPROVES MENTAL FUNCTION
A year long randomized study of 132 adults with an average age of 69 confirmed the results of the Korean study mentioned previously: balance was improved more than in the control group or a group that did flexibility, aerobic, and strength exercises.
In addition, the tai chi group had greater improvement in a tested ability to recall a string of numbers both forward and backward. This latter test is thought to assess attention and concentration as well as memory. (poster presentation, 2007 Gerontological Society of America, reported in Family Practice News, January 1, 2008, page 37)
SIMPLE CURES ARE NOT PROMOTED FOR ECLAMPSIA
One of the complications of pregnancy is eclampsia, which can lead to convulsions, coma and death. Magnesium sulphate or “Epsom salts” is an effective treatment for a cost of about $1.00.
Ana Langer of the New York based EngenderHealth organization conducted the first global analysis of eclampsia and found that 4 million women suffer from the condition each year, and 63,000 die. 300,000 infants die also.
“It’s safe, effective, cheap, yet unavailable”, stated Langer, perhaps because it is so inexpensive that pharmaceutical companies can find no profit in selling it. (presented at the Woman Deliver conference held in London in October 2007)
WHY DO THEY CALL THEM “THINK TANKS”?
It is amazing that there is money to fund such organizations, but the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the AARP foundation apparently have money to waste by establishing the “Center to Champion Nursing in America”.
Poor working conditions and substandard pay have contributed to a nursing shortage expected to reach 1.1 million by 2020, though anyone who has visited a hospital or knows a nurse will be aware that the problem has reached crisis mode already. “If we are going to improve the quality of hospital and nursing care, we need to find ways to fill the pipeline”, said Dr. Risa Lavizo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO.
No doubt a “consensus group” of “experts” will labor to produce a list of obvious “reforms” that will never be implemented. The direct solution of improving pay and working conditions should be tried before funneling millions of dollars into another do nothing organization.
Adequate staffing levels and an end to “mandatory overtime” (unpaid, of course) would be a reasonable first step. (Family Practice News, January 1, 2008, p. 45)
BLACK TEA MAY HELP PREVENT ORAL CANCER
Indian research has found that drinking black tea three times a day for a year could help prevent the development of oral cancer in subjects with leukoplakia, a disease that causes white spots to appear on mucous membranes on the tongue and in the mouth.
Oral cancer is the single most common malignancy found in Indian men and the third most common among Indian women. The study also found a significant decrease in micronuclei frequency and chromosomal aberrations. (JEnvPathToxOncol.v24.i2.70).
DANCING AND PARKINSON’S DISEASE
20 hour-long, Argentine tango dance classes led to a greater improvement in balance than did regular exercises classes, according to a study in the December 2007 American Journal of Dance Therapy. (You didn’t know there was such a journal, did you?)
SURGEON GENERAL WANTS SANTA TO LOSE A FEW POUNDS
"It is really important that the people whom kids look up to as role models are in good shape, eating well, and getting exercise", said surgeon general Dr. Steven K Galson in an interview with the Boston Herald.
Indeed, as a result, the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas has issued a call to its 800 members to lose weight. Data from the International University of Santa Claus indicates that the average weight of their graduates is 256 pounds.
Forget the cookies and milk for Santa this year: carrot and celery sticks are more appropriate, just put extra out for the reindeer. We at Acupuncture Associates sleep better at night knowing that our country has a surgeon general who knows his priorities.
GREEN TEA MAY SUPPRESS AUTOIMMUNITY
Stephen Hsu, probably the world’s leading researcher into green tea and a former green tea farmer himself, has presented a preliminary study indicating that EGCG, present in green tea, can help suppress proteins that trigger autoimmune responses. (Arthritis Foundation’s Arthritis Research Conference, 2005, Atlanta).
HEALTH OF MIDDLE AGED WORSE THAN IN PAST GENERATIONS
An analysis published by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that Americans in their early to mid 50s today report poorer health than previous generations, with more chronic conditions, more pain, and more difficulty walking, climbing steps and doing other everyday tasks than older Americans did when they were at the same age. www.nia.nih.gov/NewsAndEvents/PressReleases/20070305boomers.htm.
OBESITY IN CHINA GROWS
China's first comprehensive national survey on diet, nutrition and diseases have found that 7.1% of Chinese adults are obese and 22.8% (200 million) are overweight.
This represents an increase in overweight Chinese of 39% and in obese Chinese of 97% in a decade. Among children, 10% are obese with the number rising by 8% each year. Hypertension has reached 160 million (18.8% of the population - a rise of 31% since 1992), and diabetes has risen from 4.6% to 6.4% of urban over-20s in just six years.
Most of the increases are ascribed to poor diet, particularly a reduction in cereal foods and an increase in meat, oils and fats. Modern lifestyles - especially in cities - are much more sedentary and are centered on television, computers and car use. (People’s Daily online)
"What Were They Thinking?" Department
THE "CHIEF EXPERIENCE OFFICER": THE NEXT TREND IN STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE IN CORPORATE MEDICINE
One indication of the unquestioning acceptance of the "top down" structure of corporate America for our medical system is the idea that regulation from above will improve results. This philosophy may be fine for the assembly line, but is anathema to creative and dynamic processes such as medicine.
In the latest manifestation of this unwholesome trend, the Cleveland Clinic has installed one of their physicians as "Chief Experience Officer". According to the January 7th, 2007 American Medical News, this position "at its heart focuses on and works to improve patient experience".
I daresay patients are not looking for an "experience" when they are forced into hospitalization: They want their pain and suffering to be reduced and their medical problems addressed. They don't want to "experience" medical errors or adverse results or death from their hospitalization. They want to leave the confines of hospitalization as quickly as practicable, returning to a life that is worth living.
An "experience officer" is not needed to accomplish this task, but skilled physicians, nurses, and ancillary personnel are.
Like the "patient advocate" of years past, who accomplished nothing to improve medical care in hospital settings, Chief Experience Officers are another "feel good" exercise in marketing psychology that will no doubt prove attractive to other proponents of the "medicine is a business" crowd.
The motivation for this program may indeed be a desire to address the many frustrations and hazards that patients endure while institutionalized, but a stronger motivation may be the "increased levels of reimbursement" that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid is offering hospitals beginning in 2008 that submit data on "patient experience".
Real medicine has always been, and still remains, a "bottom up" process, driven by the needs of the patient and the physician rather than the objective of increasing profits and institutional status.
Impersonal medical-industrial systems would better use their resources to establish a culture of effective care. The emphasis in such a culture would focus on ensuring that the good character and problem-solving capabilities of the physicians and nurses who actually provide care in these institutions are not hindered.
If and when these individuals are given the resources and support that make such results possible, the "experience" of patients will automatically be positive.
The solution to the problem of "bad experiences" in hospital is not to create another executive figurehead, but to make a commitment to return to the traditional roots of medicine where the focus is on solving the patient's problem and relieving their suffering. Only through reversing the presently fashionable but flawed top-down model will a results-based medical system be possible.
An added bonus would be the cost savings made possible by eliminating uncounted numbers of deadwood executives.
These savings may even be sufficient to pay realistic wages to nurses, increase the nurse to patient ratio, and effectively lift physicians-in-training out of the indentured servitude that they presently enjoy. Even enterpreneurs have learned that if you treat your employees well, productivity, the work ethic, and atmosphere will improve.