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BEST WISHES FOR THE NEW YEAR
I want to thank all of you for your confidence and support over the past year, and for many of you, quite a few years. As I begin my 25th year of practice it is humbling to reflect on how little I would know if it was not for the lessons that each of you have taught me, and the opportunity you have provided for me to put the skills and wisdom of my honorable teachers into practice. I believe physicians do not learn anything of lasting value from books or lectures because medicine is a relationship, not a business. In a time when traditional medical knowledge and values are rapidly disappearing from the Earth, it is a privilege to be able to keep some of these rare and difficult to learn techniques alive.
WHAT DO I DO AFTER THE PAIN IS BETTER?
Many times patients will ask me after acupuncture or Chinese herbs have improved their pain, “Well, what can I do now? Will the pain come back?” The answer is not always simple. Some disorders can truly be resolved or put into long-term remission, and there is no need of further treatment. However, the original source of the imbalance may still be a factor in a patient’s life, so conditions of the environment, work or play habits, dietary or emotional factors, or genetic inheritance may reestablish the imbalance and cause symptoms to return. In such cases, treatment must be continued.
POSTURAL TRAINING - With regard to neck and back pain, posture is one factor that may cause symptoms, and particular exercises can sometimes be helpful to change habits of body use. In my practice, I recommend Alexander lessons as a valuable first step to changing habits of sitting and standing that contribute to pain. Although developed by Fredrick Matthias Alexander at the turn of the last century primarily for actors and other performers, many people with pain related to repetitive activity as well as prolonged standing and sitting can benefit from a series of lessons. In my experience, skillful application of Alexander technique has been helpful in situations where conventional physicians would be creating more risk and less benefit by recommending drugs or surgery.
It is not easy to learn the Alexander lessons from a book or video, so I recommend that you seek out a qualified teacher. As with acupuncture or other traditional medical systems, it is a process that needs to be experienced.
- I recommend the system of exercise for back and neck pain that Robin
McKenzie, a physical therapist from
STATINS FOR ALL
In contrast to those who think every American should be consuming statin drugs to obtain the lowest possible LDL, a reasonable approach that accounts for the adverse effects and cost of these drugs would be welcome. A pictograph from W.E Feeman, Jr., M.D. points out that 85 to 94 percent of patients who actually are at risk for atherosclerotic events and disease have values above the slanting line drawn on the graph. In other words, those with lower systolic blood pressures can tolerate a higher CRF than those who have high blood pressure. (Feeman W.E., Jr. Letters to the Editor, Adv. Stud. Med. 2005;5;1;20)
OBESITY DAMAGES SPERM
An analysis of the sperm
of 500 men has demonstrated a direct correlation between their body mass index
(BMI) and sperm volume and quality. The researchers at Reproductive Biology
Associates, a private IVF clinic in
OBESITY IN THE YOUNG
Danish researchers who analyzed data from 29,242 boys and girls
aged 13 to 15 years from
Post stroke patients who were asked to do mental exercises, only imagining they were moving the affected limb, showed improvements in motor functioning. (http://www.northwestern.edu/univ-relations/media_relations/releases/2003_11/hemiparesis.html).
A comprehensive study on colon-cancer risk, which included more than 3,000 older people has found that higher intake of cereal fiber (more than 4g a day) and vitamin D are associated with reduced risk of serious colon polyps that may lead to the disease. Other factors associated with reduced risk of colon cancer were the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and daily aspirin. Smoking was associated with a twofold increase in tumors or benign polyps (which often become cancerous), and a higher risk was also found in those who had a close relative with colorectal cancer. Consumption of red meat and alcohol slightly increased the risk. About 55,000 Americans die from the disease each year. (JAMA. 2003;290:2959-2967).
Women who take longer than a year to conceive have a higher than normal risk of having a premature birth, a full-term baby with low birth weight, or a Caesarean section, according to a large Danish study of nearly 56,000 births from the Danish National Birth Cohort. The increases ranged from approximately 30% to over twice the risk and were independent of any infertility treatment the women might have received. (Hum. Reprod. 2003 18: 2478-2484).
MIXED RESULTS FROM CANNABIS MS TRIAL
year double-blinded trial into the use of cannabis in multiple
sclerosis, involving more than 600 patients in the
GENERAL PRACTITIONERS & CAM
Half of general medical
practices in the
HRT USE DECLINES
More than half of New Zealand women stopped taking HRT within six months of the publication of results from a large trial in 2002 concluded that it was not suitable for the prevention of chronic diseases. 58% of women originally stopped taking HRT, but 18% started again, mostly because of the return of menopausal symptoms. (BMJ 2003;327:845-846).
RISE IN HOSPITALISATIONS FOR ALLERGIES
There was a highly
significant increase in hospital admissions for systemic allergic diseases in
A study of over 22,000 Norwegians has found that smokers were 1.8 times more likely to develop multiple sclerosis (MS) than non-smokers. The increase in risk was greater in men (2.75 times) than in women (1.61 times), and for both men and women was increased regardless of whether they had quit by the time symptoms appeared, or were still smoking. The MS generally emerged 15 years on average after the start of smoking. (Neurology 2003 61: 1122-1124). Meanwhile new research indicates that female smokers are twice as likely to develop lung cancer as male smokers. (Lung Cancer, January 2004). And the first long-term study to assess the effect of maternal smoking during pregnancy has found that children of mothers who smoked a pack or more per day of cigarettes while pregnant were almost twice as likely to become nicotine dependent compared to children whose mothers did not smoke. (Am J Psychiatry 2003 160:1978-1984). Finally, it appears that women who smoke during pregnancy have a significantly greater risk of having a child with symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). (Am J Psychiatry 2003 160:1985-1989).