Did you know that chicken soup really is medicinal? Studies prove it!Read More
Acupuncture treats "pins and needles." Here's how:Read More
Eczema (or atopic dermatitis) is a particularly uncomfortable condition, with itchy, inflamed red patches on the skin that often don't respond well to Western drugs and ointments and can get worse in cold, dry climates. Oolong tea, which is made from partially fermented leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, has been shown to markedly decrease skin inflammation and itching. Japanese researchers speculate that the tea has anti-allergy properties such as polyphenols and tannins that calm an overactive immune response. Steep 10g/.35oz of oolong tea in a liter (~34oz.) of boiling water for 5 minutes, then drink one-third after each meal. You should notice improvements within 1-2 weeks.
For those unable to drink a liter of oolong daily, try probiotics such as 1x109Lactobacillusfermentum, which has been shown to be helpful for eczema in young children and babies. Take liquid or capsules twice daily for a minimum of 8 weeks.
Not all vitamins are created equal. Just as whole foods are healthier than processed, natural vitamins are more beneficial than synthetic because their nutritional components are better absorbed, utilized and retained by the body. This "bio-availability" makes natural vitamins a better deal despite being more expensive. Natural vitamins are derived from food sources and contain a complex array of nutrients that are bonded to proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. They contain beneficial co-factors such as antioxidants and bioflavonoids, which are essential for better absorption and maximum utilization.
Synthetic vitamins are isolated chemicals that mirror their counterparts found in nature. Although synthesized vitamins will work if you are deficient in a particular nutrient, you will not be getting the same benefit due to the lack of bioflavonoids. Furthermore, many synthetics are derived using harsh solvents and may include coal tar derivatives, fillers and preservatives.
The most important rule when buying vitamins is to look for brands using plant or animal sources. For example, vitamins A and D are natural when derived from fish oils, vitamin B complex from yeast, and vitamin C from citrus, rose hips or acerola berries.
I advise my patients to take vitamins only to address a particular problem and not to just “cover your bases.” Save your money and eat a wide variety of fresh, minimally-processed foods instead. If you strive for 20 different whole food ingredients daily, you will be getting all the nutrition you need directly from food.
Raw honey produced less than 100 miles from where you live may help improve your immune response and can be especially beneficial for people with hay fever. (For kids — check with your pediatrician). Give it a try! Click here to find it at your Los Angeles area farmers markets.
Led by UC Berkeley professor Dara O'Rourke, GoodGuide's science team – from chemists to nutritionists to lifecycle analysis experts – rates products and companies on health, environmental and social performance. Their mission: "To help you shop your values."
If you suffer from heartburn, here are some easy suggestions for effective food therapies. 1. Avoid tomatoes, dark chocolate, raw onions, fried food, mint teas, and red wine.2. Drink demulcent teas such as slippery elm, marshmallow and licorice. Fennel tea is also good. Stay away from peppermint tea, which relaxes the esophagus and can actually contribute to reflux. 3. Drink carrot juice (1-2 cups/day). Carrots are alkaline-forming and anti-inflammatory and help many digestive problems. 4. Eat fresh papaya or take papaya enzymes. 5. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.6. Take acidophilus or other probiotics, or drink kefir. 7. Drink other fresh vegetable juices such as cabbage, celery and even raw potato (leave skin on). 8. Avoid eating for at least 3 hours before bedtime.9. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen, which can aggravate heartburn. 10. Reduce carbonated beverages and caffeine.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are also great for reducing heartburn as they can resolve "Stomach Heat," the most common Chinese diagnosis for heartburn and GERD.
Follow these guidelines for a month and see how much better you feel! You might even be able to eat a bowl of spaghetti bolognese again without worry.
For you basketball fans, the Phoenix Suns forward Grant Hill loves his acupuncture! The 42-year-old Hill, who retired from NBA ball two years ago, frequently sees his acupuncturist to treat his injury-prone ankles, muscle contusions, low energy and even allergies. "I can't explain or understand it all," Hill said in a 2010 article called "Hurting? If a Few Needles Can Help Hill, They Can Help Me" on the NBA's website. "But I'm going to keep doing it, even after my playing career. I want to be able to keep on being active, playing with my kids and someday grandkids."
And for baseball fans, there's this 2010 article from the NJ Star-Ledger: "Yankees Starter A.J. Burnett Credits Acupuncture With Helping Him Stay Healthy." Author Marc Carig writes, "In the past year-and-a-half, [Burnett] has begun a transformation from one of baseball’s most injury-plagued players into one of its most reliable, a drastic change he attributes to his use of acupuncture." The article quotes Yankees general manager Brian Cashman as saying, "[Acupuncture is] something that’s part of his routine, his structure, his discipline ... It’s vital to him and his mind. Therefore it’s vital to us.”
Both Grant Hill and A.J. Burnett have experienced the profound benefits of acupuncture for enhancing sports performance. See "Ergogenic Effect of Acupuncture in Sport and Exercise" on the U.S. National Library of Medicine website for details.
Taking the hormone melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime can help prevent migraines. That’s because headaches may be related to disturbances in our biorhythms, and melatonin can help regulate our sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin taken nightly for 1-3 months reduces the frequency, intensity and duration of migraines that may occur, but melatonin cannot treat migraines that have already started. In Chinese medicine a propensity for migraines usually signals a pattern of excess and deficiency where the Qi (“chee”) or energy of the body is hyperactive and shoots upward instead of flowing smoothly. Our treatment focuses on subduing the Qi, and tonifying and regulating the blood in the channels that flow to the head. Acupuncture also relaxes muscle tension in the shoulders and neck and relieves spasms by increasing circulation throughout the body.
American and Chinese researchers found that a combination of three traditional Chinese herbs could be as effective as conventional medicines at relieving asthma, but without such severe side effects seen with steroids like oral prednisone.
The study, a collaboration between Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York and the Waifeng Asthma Hospital in China, was conducted for four weeks on people with moderate to severe persistent asthma. The herbal formula — a combination of ling zhi (ganoderma), ku shen (sophora), and gan cao (glycerrhizae) — had a positive effect on lung function and immunological and inflammatory responses.
If you know a child or an adult who is suffering from asthma, please have them contact mefor a consultation. The above formula is available by prescription only from a licensed acupuncturist, and should only be used under his or her supervision.
According to a Duke University Medical Center review of over 30 research studies comparing acupuncture versus medication for chronic headaches, acupuncture is significantly more effective. The studies included nearly 4,000 patients with migraines, tension headaches and other forms of chronic headaches. A bonus finding: “Acupuncture patients also reported better physical well-being compared to the medication group." See duke.edu for research article.
Incredible, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that approximately 50% of antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily. Why should we be concerned? According to the CDC, "Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world's most pressing public health problems." In response the CDC launched a program to educate doctors and the public about the problem, which especially affects kids. "Get Smart: Know When to Use Antibiotics" is a website that helps you evaluate whether you might have a health issue caused by bacteria (antibiotics sometimes necessary so see your doctor), or a virus (antibiotics are not effective). "Get Smart" provides lots of great tips on self-care, such as rest, fluids, pain-relievers and humidifier use for a common cold, for example.
We need to think twice before asking our doctors for antibiotics for upper respiratory infections such as colds, flu, sore throat, cough, earache, and clogged sinuses - most of which are viral. A responsible doctor will rarely write a prescription without an office visit and physical exam.
If you do go home empty-handed, don't worry. Chinese herbal medicine offers many alternatives to antibiotics, such as the herbs isatis, honeysuckle, coptis and forsythia - to name a few. Under the care of a licensed acupuncturist, these herbs can replace antibiotics in certain cases, while also benefiting the immune system. While we can never replace the incredible role that antibiotics have in our world, we definitely need to get a lot smarter in their use.
Government nutritional advice is still greatly watered down due to the effects of food industry lobbying, advertising, and co-opting of experts. The good news is that Oldways, a food issues think-tank, has developed alternative Food Pyramids based on four, centuries-old dietary traditions: Asian, Mediterranean, Latin American, and vegetarian.Read More
Another reason to keep the ginger coming: Studies show ginger to be an effective pain reliever for sore muscles caused by exercise. Both raw ginger and dried supplements showed "moderate-to-large reductions in muscle pain." More commonly recommended for upset stomach, ginger is a proven anti-inflammatory.
A study funded by the Army and the National Institutes of Health helps explain how acupuncture eases chronic pain. Using brain imaging, the study showed that acupuncture increases the availability of receptors in the brain that process and weaken pain signals. Moreover, acupuncture treatments – in this case twice a week for four weeks – affect both the brain’s short- and long-term ability to reduce pain sensation. A beneficial implication of this research – published in 2009 by the University of Michigan Chronic Pain & Fatigue Research Center – is that patients treated with acupuncture might be more responsive to pain medications like codeine and Vicodin.
Other studies have shown that acupuncture triggers a variety of physiological responses, such as:
✔ Stimulating the immune system and increasing white blood cells, which defend the body against infection ✔ Decreasing cholesterol and triglycerides ✔ Regulating blood sugar metabolism, which helps the body use energy more efficiently ✔ Increasing blood circulation and producing beneficial changes in blood pressure ✔ Increasing stomach peristaltic activity and regulating digestive fluids, thereby improving digestion ✔ Regulating and stimulating serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is directly related to sleep, appetite, and mood
Curious about acupuncture but just can't seem to schedule that first appointment? AcuTake, an online publication created to improve acupuncture education and access, has written an informative article that lists (and debunks) these top five excuses that some newbies to acupuncture give for avoiding treatment.
Afraid of needles? Think the sessions are too expensive? Can't find the time, don't know who to go to, or don't "believe" in it? Read their article to get the full scoop on why these five excuses just aren't good enough anymore!
Acupuncture is great for pain relief, restful sleep, good digestion, better immunity and more. So go ahead and schedule a session — next thing you know you'll be encouraging your co-workers, friends and family members to jump on the acupuncture bandwagon.
One way to measure if acupuncture really helps people reduce or get rid of their pain is by looking at whether they’ve decreased their purchase and use of prescription or over-the-counter pain medications. In 2007, a research team in Spain looked at the cost/benefit of acupuncture compared to standard medical treatment for various types of pain in 5,690 people.The researchers found that after acupuncture treatment, the average patient saved $9.70 per week on analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs. For patients who suffered from headache, the savings soared to $35.70 per week. The money saved on medication can definitely offset the price of monthly or biweekly acupuncture treatments, depending on whom you see. Read Acupuncture Can Reduce Costs for Pain Patients.
Did you know that the most common symptom of stress is insomnia? Did you also know that people who sleep fewer than seven hours a night are three times more likely to get a cold? By sleeping longer and more deeply we can protect our health. But how do you do this if you suffer from insomnia? Sleep therapists long ago developed “sleep hygiene," also known as good sleep habits. I've adapted the rules of sleep hygiene into the following eight simple steps to help you get better ZZZZ’s:
(1) Sleep in a cooler room. As night falls and body temperature drops, the brain slows down and drowsiness sets in. Turning down the thermostat can facilitate that.
(2) Make your room completely dark. Cover up all LED lights (even tiny ones) on alarm clocks and any other electronic equipment. If it’s still not dark enough, buy some classic eyeshades available at most drugstores. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, the hormone that signals the body to sleep. Even small amounts of light decrease melatonin production and signal the body to awaken. And don’t fall asleep to the TV or iPad screen (too stimulating); even better, move all gadgets out of the bedroom.
(3) Get a saliva test to check cortisol levels. Even a little bit of lost sleep can cause your stress hormone levels to rise the next night, increasing the likelihood of chronic insomnia. (If you'd like a cortisol test, I can order one for you — please contact me).
(4) Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends.
(5) Avoid alcohol and heavy meals at least 3 hours before bedtime.
(6) Exercise regularly but not within 2 hours of retiring. It may take 2-4 months of regular exercise for you to start sleeping longer and more deeply, and better sleep will then help your exercise routines. (See "How Exercise Can Help Us Sleep Better", NYTimes, 8/21/13.)
(7) Establish a pre-sleep ritual such as a bath, meditation or reading.
(8) Avoid sleeping pills. The so-called Z drugs (Ambien, Sonata and Lunesta) only increase total sleep time by 28 minutes compared to a placebo, according to a 2005 NIH study. They may be habit-forming, cause next-day drowsiness and memory loss, and mask the fact that your underlying cause of sleeplessness could be depression, anxiey or simply poor sleep hygiene.
Of course, acupuncture is well-known as a beneficial treatment for short- and long-term insomnia, and Chinese herbs such as suan zao ren (Zizyphus) are natural and safe alternatives to prescription sleeping pills.
Here's a cool article from the Wall Street Journal about how the beneficial bacteria (flora) in our bodies help influence our minds. "The Yogurt Made Me Do It: There's nothing metaphorical about 'gut feelings' — Bacteria influence our minds."