July 24, 2021 Pain and the Brain The Dorso Lateral Prefrontal Cortex (DLPFC) has been the focus of studies that try to understand the brain's role in chronic pain. Thanks to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) this area of the brain has been shown to change in patients with chronic pain -- it becomes thinner. Once the pain has been resolved, follow up imaging studies show that the thickness of the cortex in this area of the brain increases, thus resembling the DLPFC of healthy individuals.
In addition to pain, the DLPFC also shows changes in association with emotional and psychological reactions -- specifically anxiety, fear and depression. Decreases in dopamine (the chemical released during pleasurable situations) also produce similar changes.
So, through modern studies of the brain, along with information from Chinese annals (Han dynasty, 206 B.C. - 200 A.D.) we gain the advantage of both past history and modern medicine.
Along with treating the DLPFC area, I am attentive to your constitution and to symptomatic points, making for a complete therapeutic treatment. In addition, I give you homework (really?!) to make your treatment more effective. (If you expect to get better just by popping some pills...good luck.) Don't think of either 'this' or 'that;' Chinese medicine and Western medicine often complement one another. (Unfortunately most M.D.'s aren't aware of how I can help.)
April 7, 2021 Change of Seasons, and More First Things First: Something that's important for all seasons is a calm mind. In Chinese medicine it's called shen. Two things to destroyshen are 1) fear and 2) overthinking. There are meditations to help with fear, and meditation in general can help with overthinking. (Please email us and we can send you all meditations and recipes to which we refer.)
As usual, springtime is not determined by a calendar or a clock; it comes and goes with cold nights and mornings and perfect afternoon temperatures. With the more extreme temperature changes comes the susceptibility to "catching cold," so think of the immune system and what causes it to be compromised. If you "catch a cold" it may quickly turn into an infectious disease with a nasty sore throat and accompanying chills and fever, and may shortly go into the lungs (think bronchitis).
Stress, which means different things to different people because every person has different triggers for stress, makes you vulnerable to many diseases, and not just to colds. (Again, we have a helpful meditation for stress.)
Another thing which compromises the immune system is diet. Don't overload your digestive system by overeating -- this is probably more important than WHAT you're eating.
The right side of the abdomen, below the umbilicus, is special regarding not just digestion/elimination, but also immunity. In Chinese Medicine, if you superimpose a "map" onto the abdomen, this area is represented by the Lungs (hence coughs, bronchitis). The right side of the abdomen is where the cecum, ileocecal valve and appendix reside. It's quite common for digestive material to back-up and get stuck in this area. This then becomes a breeding ground for yeast (yummy, huh?) So not just the immune system is affected but many other conditions and diseases can occur when this and other areas of the abdomen are not working smoothly/properly.
In my diagnosis, if there is undue pressure-pain in this area when palpating, I'm going to dissipate or eliminate that painful area by pressing somewhere else. It's a more complex style of acupuncture but less painful to the patient and with beneficial results.
One of my favorite dishes to eat when I get a cold is onion soup (recipe available if you email us). It's easy to make, and my definition of "easy" means that I can make it, and it actually tastes pretty good!
I have specific herbal formulas that can help with the initial signs and symptoms of a "cold," plus acupuncture. It's much easier to take care of a cold at the beginning rather than waiting until it gets more severe and goes into the lungs (nasty cough).
Additionally, we have available a recipe for a black peppercorn tea to help with Hay Fever -- 'tis the season.
February 21, 2021 Healing Covid-19 Trauma with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) The uncertainty and nagging anxieties caused by fear of the pandemic and its secondary effects on employment, income, social and political stability, etc. have not gone away. The psychological impact has become even more apparent. (1) According to a recent poll, more than 50% of American adults say Covid-19 has taken a toll on their mental health and psychological well-being. (2) Neuropsychiatric disorders, including trauma-related depression and anxiety, have long been treated by acupuncture and Chinese medicine. According to TCM principles, there is no dualism between the body and mind; in essence, TCM views the body, mind, emotions and spirit as one. In TCM the heart and kidneys are commonly associated with emotional well-being. According to classic texts, when the heart is strong and healthy, the mind is calm, focused and relaxed. When out of balance, restlessness and agitation cause nervousness, anxiety and/or panic. When there is too much “heat” in the heart, it affects the kidneys, which then allow the “heat” to rise to the mind, and anxiety ensues. TCM has the potential to play a significant role in today’s health care climate. Studies show that acupuncture therapy is effective in improving emotional and mental well-being and easing symptoms such as anxiety and depression. (3)
(1)Arbit J. “The Pandemic Has Heightened Young People’s Dedication to Their Health.” Vice, Aug. 21`, 2020. (2) Malleret T. “A Mental Health Crisis Is Surging.” Global Wellness Institute, Aug. 25, 2020. (3). Tu CH, et al. The effects of acupuncture on glutamatergic neurotransmission in depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease: A review of the literature. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2019; 10:1. Excerpted from Acupuncture Today, Dec. 2020
January 21, 2021 A New Year A new year, a new president, and still Covid. My wife and I gave had our first Covid vaccination and are looking forward to the next one. We decided to close our Los Alamos office and I am now hibernating in my home-office in Santa Cruz, just down the hill from Los Alamos, and still giving acupuncture treatments to people while masked and following all safety protocols. Many things to write about acupuncture, western medicine, and acupuncture as medicine, and other information that I'll be posting in the future.
September 20, 2020 Meat Vs Veggies Well, this really isn't about meat versus vegetables.... If you grew up as I did, you're familiar with the words coming from your mother, "Eat your vegetables." For me it was the warmed up canned spinach that would always get stuck in my throat. (Now I eat raw spinach, but canned spinach made Popeye strong!) This is about where your meat comes from. You hear the word "organic" all the time and perhaps, like me you're suspicious about that word, and it's worth investigating. Yes, organic meats and poultry are more expensive but really, what choice do you have? There are BIG conglomerates that slaughter and process meats and poultry, much of which has been fed antibiotics, hormones, GMO's, by-products and other synthetic contaminants. I'm not getting a kickback from any organic farms, but if I were giving children meat to eat, I would surely not want my young daughter going into puberty at age 9 because of the additives in meat, and yes, it's happening. "Sixteen percent of U.S. girls now experience breast development by the age of 7, and 30 percent by the age of 8. Few scientists dispute that precocious puberty is on the rise but they do not agree on the reasons. Is it bad diets and lack of exercise which cause growing obesity? Is it soft drinks themselves, even when not linked to obesity? Is it the common chemicals known as 'endocrine disrupters' which exert estrogen-like effects (and also cause obesity)? Is it the many legal, unlabeled hormones used in the U.S. to fatten livestock?" (USCAnnenberg Center for Health Journalism, June 2016.) I remember growing up in a small farming area outside of Pittsburgh, PA, where we had a huge freezer filled with big pieces of meat. It's what everyone did -- in other words we knew where our meat came from...no additives, hormones, colors, preservatives, and on and on. It was a meat and potato culture. Both the Los Alamos Co-op and Smith's have organic meats. The more you ask for and demand this, the more they're going to stock it. And regarding vegetables, if you look at the Sikhs in northern India they are on average bigger than any of the other India populations, and for the most part they're vegetarians (yes, genes and diet play a part). I still remember a big Indian Sikh, Navraj Singh Bassi, with his long, beautiful black hair, playing football for the University of Oregon. No one would call that vegetarian a 'sissy' !
March 23, 2020 More Research Pertaining to Acupuncture Asthma - A 2017 study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine demonstrated acupuncture's effectiveness at treating asthma. There was an increased quality of life shown in patients who received acupuncture in addition to their normal asthmatic treatments. (1)
Osteoarthritis (OA) - A study with 1,763 participants found that acupuncture treatment significantly reduced pain in patients compared with patients who did not receive treatment. Patients with osteoarthritis who received acupuncture reported gains in mobility and a better quality of life. The trials found that longer treatment periods resulted in higher reductions of pain. (2)
Hypertension - A meta-analysis published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that acupuncture lowers blood pressure in patients who are taking medication for hypertension or high blood pressure. The trials included 386 patients with hypertension and found that weekly acupuncture treatment for 6-10 weeks lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. (3)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome - A 2017 study in Acupuncture in Medicine reported that acupuncture has been found to produce significant positive results for those suffering from IBS. (4) (1) The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; April 2017, 23(4); 268-277. (2) BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine; August 2014, 14(1); 312. (3) Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine; March 2014, Epub. (4) Acupuncture in Medicine; 2017, 35; 17-23.
March 4, 2020 Modern Research and Acupuncture Acupuncture has been used as a health care modality for over 5,000 years. Modern science has begun to understand the secrets of this ancient medicine with the support of new studies conducted by leading scientists, hospitals and medical research facilities from all over the world. Today acupuncture is receiving wide acceptance as a respected, valid and effective form of health care.
A few current studies have shown: In the Clinical Journal of Pain that low back pain, the most common musculoskeletal problem, can be relieved by acupuncture with little to no adverse side effects. (1)
In a systematic review published by Spine Journal, acupuncture has been shown to have significantly favorable effects on chronic low back pain. In the systematic review, 32 different studies were compared, and 25 of those studies provided relevant data to come to this conclusion. Actual acupuncture treatments were compared with sham acupuncture treatments throughout the study in order to obtain the results. (2)
A 2016 study published by The Cochrane Review concluded acupuncture treatments cannot only relieve the pain associated with headaches, but it can help to control or prevent migraines before they happen. Out of the 22 trials conducted, considerable evidence was shown that in addition to prophylactic drugs, acupuncture should be highly considered for migraine treatment and prevention. (3) (1) "Acupuncture for Acute Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review." The Clinical Journal of Pain, published February, 2013. (2) "Effectiveness of Acupuncture for Nonspecific Chronic Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis." Spine Journal, 2013; Vol 38 (24). (3) "Acupuncture for the Prevention of Episodic Migraine." The Cochrane Review, published June 28, 2016.
January 3, 2020 Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later Continuing with the theme of "an ounce of prevention," what I'm trying to say is: "See me now, and not after you've seen all the M.D.'s, or minimally, concurrently while seeing your doctors. Why? By the time you've seen all the M.D.'s -- western medicine -- time has elapsed, and your disease/condition may have settled in, gone deeper. Many times I've seen a patient after the M.D. has said, "I've done all I can do; why don't you see an acupuncturist?" If, after seeing me, your disease/condition hasn't improved within a short period of time, then I'll recommend you see an M.D.
Who doesn't say, "I'll shine it on"? And I'm no exception. And we pay the price. Sure, there are hypochondriacs out there, but they're the exception. Our bodies try to tell us, warn us, by giving little (or large) signals, e.g., constant colds and flu, a pain that just won't go away, even with Tylenol, etc. etc. "Sooner or later it'll go away." In reality there's a good chance it may morph into something much more serious: a sinus infection into..........
The significance is: Live in reality. Listen.
December 18, 2019 Down, But Not Out Of course I sense and feel the trepidation that people have about coming to see me for acupuncture since my illness. I can understand that. I am not what I used to be with some things, like my physical body, being such as it is. Even my mind is not as it was. So be it. My kidneys are approximately a third of perfect. My heart took a beating (but is still ticking). So, what to do? Give up? Like John Cameron Swayze watching a Timex watch being driven over by a truck, or dropped from a helicopter, I'm still working! Why did I stop eating.....for months!? Released from the hospital to hospice care....waiting to die. Fellow Sikh community members coming by my bedside after a group prayer, saying "goodbye," and me not being conscious enough to realize it was the ultimate goodbye. What kept me going? I was fortunate enough to find a spiritual teacher, a saint, a Master and a real man to follow (the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan). He taught methods to help us through hard times. The first words he taught was the mantra "Keep Up and you'll be kept up." I absorbed it and it fit in with who I am: "When things are down and darkest, that's when we stand tallest."
November 25, 2019 Prevention is the Best Cure "An ounce of prevention..." We all know the saying, so what "prevents" us or stops us from taking action? Stubbornness, denial, excuses, and on and on. People come to me (primarily) for pain, and I help them by finding out what their triggers are, when did they start and are they listening to their triggers. We're human and most people do some of the above, including me (ugh). And we pay for these actions, sometimes a few dollars and up to.....our lives. So, if I can inspire, provoke, and motivate you into action, or if you have questions to ease your trepidation about acupuncture and Oriental medicine, please contact me.
November 18, 2019 Cold and Flu Season Is Still Here Trying as hard as we do, taking all kinds of vitamins and supplements to keep us strong and healthy, still a cold or flu comes our way. Then, what do we do? Wait it out, rest, drink herbal teas, and maybe cover it up with OTC medications that relieve some of the symptoms. But all too often the condition lingers and may progress to a deeper level, i.e., the lungs. Chinese Medicine, both herbal and acupuncture, can help release these toxins before they go deeper into the body. This is the most important part of coming for a treatment NOW. Once the bacteria or virus goes deeper it may compromise the immune system and we become vulnerable to many more conditions / illnesses. Our energy is sapped without us knowing why. These illnesses can come and go for many years, not realizing that it all originated from that cold or flu weeks, months, or even years ago.