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Should you drink milk?

baby

Only babies should drink milk?

The whole only babies eat milk is clever play on words but has no bearing in reality. It's not a nature based argument. If you would visit our farm and stay a spell, you would find that the "baby" calves will nurse as long as their mother will let them, which is often well past their fist year. Translated to human years, well into their "adolescence."

What stops nursing is not magical transformation into an adult, but the arrival of a more needy member of the herd, another calf.

Some people cannot digest milk

I don't disagree that some people just cannot handle milk, just like some people cannot handle a high fat diet, or wheat, but does this mean that every human on the planet should stop drinking milk? This is what many food purists like the Paleo diet folks want us to believe.

The Paleo philosophy basically eliminates any food except what our hunter-gatherer ancestors could find. This includes all dairy, all grains, and legumes. Essentially, all foods that were developed as civilizations shifted toward the agrarian.

The Masai culture is a milk based culture

There are cultures who have relied on milk for thousands of years. For example, the traditional Masai culture of nomadic cattle herders is not what we would consider an agrarian culture, yet their diet consists largely of a mixture of cow’s blood and milk. Don't you think 5,000 years or so of living like that is enough to work out the kinks? Should the Masai give up milk?
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Innovations in food technology create the culture

Food innovations, created huge leaps forward in civilization. If the choice is bread made from grain stored during the proverbial seven fat years, or starvation during the seven lean years, I know what I would choose.

Plentiful cheap food is a headache

That's the other interesting anthropological aspect to this whole "what to eat" debate. Until post WWII America, you pretty much ate what you could get your hands on. It's amazing the confusion cheap and plentiful food has created.

That doesn't mean we should keep all foods around, but if I can handle drinking raw milk, or the occasional sourdough bread slathered with grass fed butter with no adverse effects, I'm not going to stop for the benefit of of keeping a philosophy "pure."

Eliminate a food only because it’s bad for you

I believe in eliminating a food only because it actually causes damage for an individual and not because of some theoretical threat to human health as a whole. Nature and human nature is too vast and too varied to create simple rules. We need some flexibility in our thinking and generosity in our spirit.

The danger of tunnel thinking

It's dogmatic tunnel thinking that got us in this nutritional mess in the first place when our government decided we should all eat a low-fat high carb diet. One nutritional size does not fit all. Once we become dogmatic, whether, low-fat, low carb, Paleo, vegan, whatever, we will always do harm to others by insisting everybody follow our path. Remember one person's food is another's poison, or n=1.

Just to be clear, this is NOT and anti-Paleo post. I think Paleo is wonderful and might be the best starting place for figuring out how to nourish your particular metabolism. In fact I'm considering adopting it as the nutritional foundation for my acupuncture practice instead of simply low carb. So you don't have to defend Paleo, but feel free if you wish. ;)

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Save a life: early signs of a stroke

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This “chain letter” I actually read

A patient sent me one of those chain letters the other day, this one was different however, I actually read it. The email was a reminder of how to recognize that a person is having a stroke, but what caught my attention was that modern science now has a fourth sign for stroke, the tongue.

Tongue diagnosis is part of acupuncture

Acupuncturists have been looking at tongues for centuries to gather signs about a person’s health. Has modern medicine caught up. I’ll fill you in a bit. Before I do, please familiarize yourself with the signs of a stroke. You may save someone’s life, or the quality of their life.

3 hours can save a stroke victim

Neurologist say that if they can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours, they can usually reverse the effects of a stroke. The trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough because the signs of a stroke are not well recognized.

Stroke is a silent killer

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. The patient usually has no pain, but feels weak and disoriented, so they may just sit quietly hoping the “episode” will pass.

Why people ignore the warning signs

In fact many people who have strokes have had “mini-strokes” where the symptoms did pass, so these warning signs go unheeded. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

How to recognize a stroke

Doctors say a you can recognize a stroke by asking the patient to perform STR:

  • S  Ask the individual to SMILE - if the smile is not symmetrical dial 911
  • T  Ask the person to TALK and repeat a simple sentence i.e. It is sunny out today. - If the person is not coherent, dial 911
  • R  Ask him or her to RAISE both arms at the same time - if both arms do not go up at the same time, well you know the drill by now, dial 911.

tongue

New sign of a stroke: stick out your tongue

Modern cardiologists have identified a “new” sign of stroke to add to the list. Ask the person to stick out their tongue. If the tongue comes out crooked, the person may be having a stroke.

2000 years looking for crooked tongues

This “new” sign is thousands of years old. Ancient Chinese acupuncturists grouped a crooked tongue as a sign of “wind stroke” along side of facial paralysis. So while I’m temped to file this under “Duh!” It’s always good to see modern medicine confirm acupuncture’s 2,000 years of experience.

Acupuncture can help after a stroke

If you do find somebody with the symptoms of a stroke, by all means get them to an emergency room as fast as you can. After the acute phase has passed, if there are any lingering symptoms, you may want to consider acupuncture to help recovery and rehab.

Here is a short summary about acupuncture for stroke recovery.

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A short introduction to the concept of Energy Imbalance

oaktree
This is a part of a series that explains 5 Element Acupuncture by comparing and contrasting it to modern medicine. In this post we will take a look at the nature of disharmony, or what effect disease has on a person. Modern medicine has pathology and 5 Element Acupuncture has energy imbalances.

Medical pathology was the original CSI MIAMI

Pathology is the branch of medicine that deals with the laboratory examination of samples of body tissue for diagnostic or forensic purposes. This science starts at the end point and works it’s way backwards to the find cause of the disease, just like a detective investigating a murder starts with a death and works her way backwards to find the murderer.

5 Element Acupuncture begins with the end

The main difference with the way a 5 Element Acupuncturist views the effects of disease is the belief that the beginning of the disease process is the end as well. In 5 Element Acupuncture there is no cascade of cause and effect that leads to death.

Once the energy becomes imbalanced, there is nothing less nor nothing more to do than treat the imbalance. It does not matter if the imbalance is recent and there are no symptoms yet manifest, or if the imbalance is well established and the patient is very ill.

While this sounds incredibly silly and just another bit of oriental circular thinking, one only has to take the simple example of my hop house collapsing to understand how the concept makes perfect sense.

The story of the hop house

I live on an old hop farm in Central New York. At one time, this area was the hops capital of the United States. One of the outbuildings on our farm was the hop house, a specialized structure for drying and packaging hops for sale and shipment. The hop house was build around 1870 and was last used in the 1920’s when the farm was converted to a dairy operation.
hophouse
Since the hop house was no longer a money making structure, it was neglected. The roof was not kept in repair, nor was the vent cowl which allowed the moisture and smoke from the drying process to escape without allowing rain to get in and damage the structure.

Time and weather take their toll

Over time, weather wore off the exterior paint, rain began to seep in through holes in the roof. Eventually the siding facing west, the direction of the prevailing winds, started falling down. To the builder’s credit, the hop house held together through many storms, until finally in 2009, a huge gust of wind blew into the hop house and lifted part of roof right off the walls and smashed it about 20 yards away. The hop house died.

What caused the architectural death?

If you were an architectural pathologist, the cause of death would have been the gust of wind. You would not be a complete idiot and ignore the damage that allowed the wind to kill the building, but nonetheless, the cause was still the gust of wind.

Putting it all together

To understand, the point of the hop house story, you simply have think about cancer. Cancer is like the gust of wind. It’s what finishes the job, but a lot happens before the cancer can get bad enough to kill.

A 5 Element look at architecture

In the 5 Element model, the hops house’s cause of death would be the same imbalance which started the decline in the first place: not the gust of wind, not the west facing siding falling off, not even the leaking roof, the imbalance that started AND ended the life of the hop house was a lack of income generating purpose for the structure.

Identifying the root cause

If at any point in time, the hop house was more than just a gentle reminder of the old days and actually was a source of income, any of its owners, including me, would have spent the $30,000 needed to stabilize the structure or better yet, the building would have been maintained all along.

The power of the energy imbalance concept

This is the deep power of 5 Element diagnosis -- the power of understanding an energy imbalance, the root cause of a disease. Even if I had secured a state grant to save the hop house. It would have just postponed the ultimate demise. Without a purpose, there was nobody to spend time in the hop house and notice what needed fixing, let alone have the extra money to make the yearly repairs needed.

You don’t need to understand acupuncture to understand energy

It took me three years and a Master’s Degree to understand how energy imbalances play out inside a human being. However, if you use your imagination, you can conjure up a scenario where lack of sleep over many years could cause an energy imbalance. That would weaken the immune system to the point where frequent viral infections could damage the cellular DNA causing cancer, and if unsuccessfully treated, lead to death.

How the beginning becomes the end

In western medicine, the cause of death would be cancer, in 5 Element Acupuncture, the cause of death would be an energy imbalance caused by not following nature’s laws and getting enough sleep. You understand now the beginning is the end and why 5 Element Acupuncturists sound like broken records when it comes to the nature’s basic laws.

One last example

Indulge me with one last example, an example of growth and not death, the life of an oak tree. To a 5 Element Acupuncturist, an acorn does not become an oak tree, and this is very important, the acorn is the oak tree. A majestic 200 year oak tree is simply, but no less miraculously, an acorn that has unfolded over time.
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Why choose 5 Element Acupuncture? Focusing on patterns of health and not individual threads

Why choose 5 Element Acupuncture for your health

In order to weave silk into a beautiful pattern, you must know what each individual thread is doing. However, if you stay focused on the individual threads, you will never see the pattern that these threads create. By favoring pattern recognition over individual signs and symptoms, 5 Element Acupuncture occupies a unique place in the healthcare universe that sets it apart, not only from Western medicine, but also other forms of acupuncture.

You have choices in acupuncture

We are blessed in this modern age to have lots of choices when it comes to acupuncture, TCM (traditional Chinese Medicine), Japanese Eight Principle, Auricular Acupuncture, Korean Hand Acupuncture, and individual techniques like Dr. Tan’s Balance Method, and the NAET allergy elimination protocol.

Choices can cause confusion

This profusion of styles is also a curse. You now have to educate yourself to make a wise choice. It would take an entire book to explain all the different types of acupuncture, and since I am only an expert in one style, 5 Eement Acupuncture, it would be presumptuous of me to speak for other traditions.

What makes 5 Element Acupuncture unique

However, I can tell you the unique features of 5 Element Acupuncture and the benefits of its approach. If you find yourself bored and uninterested, move on and find another practitioner (or style). However, if you find yourself drawn in and intrigued, schedule yourself a consultation to find out if 5 Element Acupuncture is for you.

A person and her health is not simply a matter of biochemistry, or internal energy flow for that matter. She constantly adjusts and responds to her environment. She also is an expression of her past. Just like thousands of threads are woven together to make a dress, time weaves the physical, mental and spiritual threads of our lives to make us what we are today.

Heart disease as an example

For example, let’s take a look at heart disease. In modern medicine, the first sign of heart disease might be raised blood pressure. In response to this finding, a doctor might prescribe several blood pressure medications and advise the patient to exercise, lose weight and make a follow-up visit in 6-12 months.

Similarly, in the TCM acupuncture model, a patient might present with a tight pulse and a tongue that is slightly purple. The TCM practitioner would have a similar response to the Western doctor and use needles and a herbal formula like “Relaxed Wanderer” to ease “liver stagnation” and advise the patient to practice yoga or meditate.

These are essentially the same interventions which address the mechanism of increased blood pressure, but completely ignore how the patient’s past and environment might be influencing her entire quality of life and not just the blood pressure. Put that thought on the shelf. We will come back to it.

Heart disease has many causes

A study just came to my attention that linked laughter and heart disease. To a Five Element Acupuncturist this is 2,000 year old news, but it’s always nice to get validated by rigorous modern research. In 5 ELement theory, the heart is associated with the Fire Element whose sound is laughter and whose emotion is joy. Score one for the old Chinese dudes.

The connection between laughter and your heart

The researchers started by asking the patients if the they would laugh if they showed up at a party and someone else was wearing the same outfit. Those who had a sense of humor, were found to be 40% less likely to have markers for heart disease, including high blood pressure.

One could make the case, in fact I am making the case, that the cause of these patients’ heart disease symptoms was a lack of joy in their lives. No joy, no laughter. No laughter, no healthy heart.

If you simply relax the cardiovascular system and reduce the blood pressure, the main cause of stress, a joyless life, is left running rampage through the person’s life and will continue to cause physical damage.

In 5 Element Acupuncture, we are trained to observe a patient’s emotional state as well as their physical state. If we find a person does not laugh easily, we get curious and look for the reasons why. While this may sound like we are trying to be junior psychologists and go all Doctor Phil on our patient’s, you have to take my word that we are not.

The 5 Element system identifies over-arching patterns

What we are searching for are the patterns that a person’s environment and past have woven into her current health. See, we just took that thought off the shelf. The 5 Element System is a tool for identifying large patterns, the meta-patterns, if you will, that give rise to smaller patterns of disharmony, like high blood pressure, or constrained liver qi.

Treating the overall pattern

Anybody over the age of 30 has many of these small patterns or symptoms. Trying to address them individually is like trying to use chopsticks to eat a bowl of rice one grain at a time. If you can identify the meta-pattern influencing the person’s life, what 5 Element Acupuncturists call the causative factor, you can then treat the entire landscape of health physical, emotional and spiritual.

The individual rice grain approach is why patients end up with a shelf full of medications if they go to a doctor, or a shelf full of supplements if they see an alternative health practitioner.

Please don’t mistake my drawing distinctions for disdain. I’m not dismissing this approach out of hand. There are times when concentrating on an individual symptom or disease is critical. However, this is not the forte of the 5 Element System. An individual practitioner may have an expertise in an area, but she has created that expertise outside the 5 Element System. For example, I have an acupuncturist friend, Greg Lee, who is an expert in treating Lyme Disease. He uses the 5 Element System, but has also collected other techniques from various disciplines to focus on helping people with this terrible disease.


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How does acupuncture work? (There are no stupid questions.)

Ever since acupuncture reappeared in America in the 70’s, curious scientists have been working to explain how it works. There are several theories being worked on now including the endorphin theory, brain activity theory and a muscle fascia signaling theory. On the other hand, many scientists and “scientific” people are decidedly non-curious. Being non-curious happens to all of us, it’s part of human nature. Let me tell you a short story about hand washing that will blow your mind.

The non-curious war against hand washing

Can you imagine any doctor laughing at hand washing as superstition. Well, when hand washing was introduced as a way to save lives during childbirth, the physician was ridiculed so harshly he spent his last day in an asylum. A long time ago Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis noticed that there were a lot less deaths in birthing hospitals run by midwives.

Doctors are too important to waste their time washing up

At the time, in doctor’s hospitals, medical students would interrupt their very important lessons performing autopsies, run upstairs with filth covered aprons, blood covered hands and deliver a baby without washing up. It was a miracle any baby or mother survived the filth!

Trust me, I’m a doctor

The hospital muckity-mucks refused to believe there was any connection and laughed at the “invisible forces” that were supposedly causing these deaths. Time, as it usually does, sorts these things out, and some bright and curious scientists discovered germs. Now we fire doctors who don’t wash their hands.

The same old, same old

Acupuncturist face the same close mindedness as Dr. Semmelweis did 150 years ago. Acupuncture does not make sense based on our current understanding of anatomy and physiology. When something new, like acupuncture comes along, curious people do what they do, experiment and play, and the non-curious do what they do, complain that the curious are wasting their time and the taxpayers money that should be better spent on the boring research that the non-curious people are doing.

How non-curious scientists dismiss acupuncture

The non-curious scientists simply dismiss acupuncture as placebo - it works because the patient wants it to work. From a clinician’s point of view, you don’t really care so much why the patient gets better, just as long as they do, and you can reliably repeat the process. For a researcher, however, placebo is the kiss of death and places acupuncture in the realm of give the kid a cookie to stop him from crying.

Acupuncture is forcing a new frontier in physiology

I’ve always believed that the scientific explanation for acupuncture will push our understanding of how the body works and will reveal some completely novel mechanisms inside the human body.

Sound waves activate your immune system

Columbia University and Hong Kong University are proving me right. They have discovered a new mechanism in the body where white blood cells are activated by sound waves. The researches pulsed the needle with an electric current which generated an acoustic shear wave. Then using a souped up MRI, they watched the sound wave activate intracellular calcium which in turn activated white blood cells and pain and mood modulating endorphins.

Location, location, location

While the sound wave phenomenon is pretty cool, I might have to stop making fun of the people who use tuning forks on acupuncture points, the coolest thing about the study is what the researches discovered about acupuncture point location.

If they missed the acupuncture point by as much as one centimeter, the intensity of the sound wave was cut in half. This is why feeling the “qi” sensation is so important in 5 Element Acupuncture. Without super accurate point location, you have to use many more needles to get the same effect as one that is carefully placed.

So there you have it, another breakthrough in medicine courtesy of acupuncture. It’s amazing what you discover when you look at a problem from a fresh perspective. Keep an open mind and try to keep a beginners mind. Ask the “stupid” questions like “how does acupuncture work.” You never know what you will discover.


This is the abstract to the paper. It’s super geeky so don’t feel bad if you don’t have a clue what they are saying.

This article presents a novel model of acupuncture physiology based on cellular calcium activation by an acoustic shear wave (ASW) generated by the mechanical movement of the needle.

An acupuncture needle was driven by a piezoelectric transducer at 100 Hz or below, and the ASW in human calf was imaged by magnetic resonance elastography. At the cell level, the ASW activated intracellular Ca2+ transients and oscillations in fibroblasts and endothelial, ventricular myocytes and neuronal PC-12 cells along with frequency–amplitude tuning and memory capabilities.

Monitoring in vivo mammalian experiments with ASW, enhancement of endorphin in blood plasma and blocking by Gd3+ were observed; and increased Ca2+ fluorescence in mouse hind leg muscle was imaged by two-photon microscopy.

In contrast with traditional acupuncture models, the signal source is derived from the total acoustic energy. ASW signaling makes use of the anisotropy of elasticity of tissues as its waveguides for transmission and that cell activation is not based on the nervous system.

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A short introduction to the concept of Internal Disharmony

Woman Meditating

This is a part of a series that explains 5 Element Acupuncture by comparing and contrasting it to modern medicine. In this post we will take a look at the causes of disease. Because our ultimate goal is to come away with a better understanding of the assumptions that inform 5 Element Acupuncture, and the title promises this will be short, we are going to limit our discussion to the causes of disease from the Western medicine to germs and toxins.

Western medicine looks for outside causes of disease

About five years ago I was sitting in on a lecture on the coming epidemic of lung cancer in China. The darkened room was silent as the researcher went through his slides. It was like that moment in a horror movie when you know something really bad is going to happen and you are powerless to do anything about it. The researcher’s name was Tom Kensler, a Doctor of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

According to Kensler, (who by the way, is a graduate of Hamilton College) the main force driving this oncoming epidemic was not the huge amount of pollution in the newly industrialized cities of China, but the overwhelming number of men who smoke.

Dr. Kensler was hired by the Chinese to help them figure out how many more clinics and hospitals they would have to build in order to handle the coming wave of lung cancer.

Do you know what the second leading cause of cancer is?

Interestingly, the second leading cause of cancer worldwide, behind cigarette smoking is not environmental toxins, but viruses. Simply catching a cold can expose us to germs which can attack the DNA of cells and cause them to grow uncontrollably. In a distant third place are environmental causes like chemical spills and air pollution.

It seems our fear of getting cancer has been misplaced and we should be most concerned about keeping our immune system in high gear, which brings us finally back to 5 Element Acupuncture.

How internal harmony protects your health

In contrast to modern medicine, the ancient Chinese idea of disease was focused as much on the body’s ability to prevent getting sick as it was on what was causing the illness in the first place. The original acupuncture texts explain that if a person is in complete harmony, they are impervious to any disease and will never get sick and live to a very old age.

How shingles is cause by a lack of internal harmony

For example, most of us are infected with the herpes virus at a young age when we get chicken pox. In most cases, after we recover, the virus lies dormant for years occasionally coming out as a cold sore. For some unfortunate souls however, their internal harmony gets disrupted. They become weakened and the herpes virus fights its way through the body’s impaired immune system and the person comes down with a very painful attack of shingles.

It’s really a very simple concept. When the forces of the body are aligned and harmonious, we are much less likely to get sick. One of the beauties of acupuncture, and the 5 Element style in particular, is the focus it places on mental and emotional harmony as well as physical harmony.

How Western medicine is catching up to the concept of internal harmony

It was not until the field of psychoneuroimmunology developed, did modern medicine begin to take a close look at the link between a person’s mental state and their immune system. It turns out, to no one’s surprise, that unhappy people are more likely to get sick.

5 Element Acupuncture is based on internal harmony

In the 5 Element system, we almost exclusively look at a patients internal harmony. If a person is smoking we obviously council him to stop, but in treatment we do not concern ourselves as much with the specific damage smoking is doing, we focus rather on the internal disharmony that led to smoking in the first place.

Until the original disharmony is resolved, smoking on some level is balancing the person. That’s why quitting is so hard for some. Lighting up actually makes the person feel better and function better. The problem in this case is the cure is also likely to kill.

Why Aunt Sally never got lung cancer

Theoretically, a completely healthy and balanced person could smoke her entire life and not succumb to any sort of lung disease. In fact, we all have heard stories of some distant Aunt who smokes all her life and died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 101.

I’m not advocating smoking like Aunt Sally, but to simply focus on the cause of disease to the exclusion of the internal disharmony that allows it to take root, is folly.

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A short introduction to meridians and points

Continuing our series of discussions contrasting 5 Element Acupuncture with Western medicine, this article will take a look at the essential structures that form the understanding of the body.

Western medicine looks at the physical body through anatomy. If you’ve ever gone through the bargain section of Barnes and Nobles you will always find an over sized anatomy book with spectacular illustrations of the various organs and systems of the body. These book usually start with the bones and work their way through the various systems and their organs until they reach the skin and hair.

How the art advanced western medicine
What you may not know is the basis of this understanding is founded on the work of Italian Renaissance painters. These truly dedicated artists felt were obsessed with realism. In order to create the most realistic representation of the human body, they started hanging around morgues and would purchase unclaimed bodies and began to develop the art of dissection.

Wax
You must keep in mind there were no sterile operating rooms, no stainless steel tables, no air conditioning. The putrefying bodies would only last a short time before the stench and the decay made the work impossible. Yet despite these limitation, these artists created the first detailed map of the human body, naming every bump, wiggle and wag they saw.

The results were truly spectacular. What you see is a representation of the body done in wax.

Why the Chinese never dissected cadavers
By comparison, the Chinese, despite their advanced technology, never detailed the human body the way the Italian Artists did. I’m not just playing up Chinese technology because I’m an acupuncturist.

The Chinese invented paper, gunpowder, silk and had a fleet of massive trading ships that dwarfed the small 15th century vessels making their way around the Mediterranean Sea. There is even some archeological evidence suggesting that the Chinese sailed a fleet of these massive wooden ships around the world before Columbus discovered the New World.

So the question must be answered, “Why didn’t the Chinese develop a detailed Western style anatomy.” The fundamental basis for this curious state of affairs is based on one of the major Chinese religions. The Cunfuscian belief that one cannot enter heaven unless a person’s body is physically intact influenced the entire Chinese culture.

For example, the eunuchs who managed many of the day-to-day affairs of the royal palace, carried their testicles in a box al all times to ensure that if they died, they would be allowed entrance into the afterlife. So while there may have been Chinese who yearned to explore the body as did the Italians, they were culturally restrained.

Why antique Chinese medical drawings look like children’s work
So when you look at a 18th century Chinese medical depiction of the human body, it would be easy to dismiss it as primitive and crude, and in some ways it was.

antique
For example, feet were regularly portrayed as rectangular and flat not because the artist lacked the skills that even a 5th grader possesses, but because they were depicting the relationship that the feet have with the Earth. To the Chinese doctor, the harmonious relationship of man to his environment was more important than the actual shape of the body. After all, everyone know what a foot looks like.

How acupuncture influenced Chinese medicine
The second factor involved in the development of Chinese anatomy was acupuncture. The physical basis of acupuncture rests in perceived channels that act like waterways to carry energy throughout the body. Unlike bones and blood and blood vessels which are visible, the meridians do not reveal themselves when the body is dissected. Like the invisible wind, the presence of meridians is understood by the effect they have on the body.

Many of today’s critics of acupuncture base their arguments on the ethereal nature of the meridians, but in fact there is a bit of research that suggests there might be some type of physical organization that parallels the meridians.

How to make sense of acupuncture meridians and points
Thanks to modern electricity, understanding the meridians is as simple at looking at the electrical wires in your house. The meridians combine to make a circuit that connects and powers all aspects of your body, mind and spirit. When the meridians themselves, or the connections between them, are compromised, the body’s function diminishes.

For example, when lightning knock out electricity on my farm, we can still cook on the gas stove, but out water is shut off because we use a pump to draw water from our well.

Throughout the house there are electrical junction boxes where the electricity comes to the surface and powers an appliance. To continue our analogy at the risk of stretching it to the breaking point, these junction boxes are roughly the same as the acupuncture points.

How acupuncture points are used
There 365 traditional points on the body and hundreds of “extra” points. The 365 points mirror the days of the year and reflect a symmetry that at one point was central to acupuncture, but has since faded from memory.

Gall Bladder Meridian
These points are specific regions along the meridians that can be palpated and measured scientifically. Acupuncture points have lower electrical resistance than the surrounding skin. Like our junction box example, the energy comes to the surface at these points and can be accessed and influenced to do certain “work” in the body.

There are points whose indications are very basic such as shoulder pain. There are other points that have more of a physiological influence such as to turn an inverted fetus, or relieve constipation. And then there are points whose purpose can only be understood within the 5 Element paradigm. The purpose of these points is to balance energy within the body. For example, there is a point used to transfer energy from the water element to the fire element.

How does a 5 Element acupuncturist choose what points to use?
Patients often ask, “How do you know what points to use?” Unlike in western medicine where you are giving a specific medication for a specific symptom, for example, with back pain a typical prescription cocktail would include, a pain pill, an ant-inflammatory, and a muscle relaxer. By contrast, in selecting a point or points to use for a patient with back pain, I would identify the patient’s causative factor element, the specific meridian involved and the nature of the imbalance of the meridian, I would then select a point(s) to mobilize the body’s own repair mechanisms. (5 Element Acupuncture has a governing principle called the “Law of Least Action” which state that the most powerful treatments use the fewest needles possible.)

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They sure don't make food like they used to

Last week I was in my local grocery store and side by side in the fish display was wild caught sockeye salmon and Atlantic farm raised “salmon.” The difference in the color and texture, and I assume nutrition, was so striking I had to buy both so I could get them home to take this picture.

WIld salmon v. farmed salmon
The pale and pasty color of the farm raised fish was particularly alarming. The lack of color and poor texture of the farm raised fish are indications that the nutritional quality and density is inferior.

Farm raised salmon was a breakthrough in sustainable fishing technology. These salmon are raised in huge salt water “ containment farms.” Because the fish are not free to roam about and catch their own food, they are fed. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, garbage in, garbage out.

Modern food growers measure output in terms of volume, not quality, and their profitability depends on keeping costs low. Fish are not particularly picky eaters, so they will eat just about anything. As long as the fish weighs enough at harvest, the farmer is happy. Of course the salmon comes out looking like a pale imitation of its wild cousin, so the farmers are allowed by the FDA to add a little food coloring so the difference is not quite as stark.

The point of this rant is food t’ain’t what it used to be. Today’s food is often a pale shadow of the nutrient dense, life sustaining goods our grandparents were raised on, the problem isn’t just isolated to salmon.

Think about all the food we eat that comes from confined animals, beef, pork, turkey, chicken, eggs, and dairy for starters. For you vegans who are shouting, “I told you so,” right about now, fruits and veggies aren’t much better, but that’s a different rant.

Not too long ago, food used to be part of the local economy. There weren’t any leviathan meat packing ships sailing from Australia. There weren’t any massive feed lots in Texas. There weren’t any mega-swine farms in South Carolina.

Milk came from small farms and was gently pasteurized at 140 degrees which kills most of the bacteria the government is so worried about, but does not destroy many of the enzymes that aid in digestion.

Think about this. If milk is this undigestible disease producing substance, how do babies (of all species) with their weak and immature digestive systems manage to survive? Babies survive because milk, as Mother Nature intended, contains the enzymes needed for digestion. It’s the modern production of milk that’s the problem, not the milk itself. This holds true for so many foods today.

At this point, I must declare a bias. Because of the tireless work of my wife and in-laws on our 30 acre farm, in many ways I live old fashioned pastoral life. The American dream at the time of the Civil War, was “Five acres and a mule.” I’m living that dream, large! We have a small herd of American Milking Devons for beef and milk, a flock of chickens for fresh eggs, and a huge vegetable garden which keeps us supplied all year.

We know what our animals eat. We know the condition of our soil. We know the how pests are controlled in our garden. We see and taste the difference between an egg that was laid a few hours ago and the store bought organic egg that was laid by a confined hen and refrigerated for a week or more.

We cannot turn back the hands of time, but we must continue to push forward by insisting that food we eat is high quality. This means spending extra money on groceries if you can. Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. Try out the different farmers at your local farmers’ markets. See who grows the most nutritious food. Nature has made that easy, the best food is also the tastiest. Spend the few extra bucks to buy the wild salmon instead of the farm raised.

Change will come from the bottom up, one dollar at a time. Remember, food companies are chasing your dollar, and like a hungry dog, will follow you wherever you lead it.
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A short introduction to the 12 Officials

This is third of a series of short articles explaining various aspects of 5 Element Acupuncture by comparing and contrasting its basis for understanding human physiology and anatomy to the more familiar modern medicine.

Contrasting modern medicine with acupuncture
Modern medicine focuses almost exclusively on cellular function. When a disease or condition is identified, modern medicine zooms in on the cellular level. For example, let’s look a depression. One way modern medicine looks at mood is via a hormone called seretonin. Depression is viewed as a deficiency of this hormone available to brain cells.

How drugs, and their side-effects, are developed
Once this function of brain cells to latch on to seretonin and the ensuing effect on mood, was identified, a class of drugs called selective seretonin uptake inhibitors (SSI’s) were invented. Prozac is a popular SSI. This approach produces very powerful drugs that can work miracles. The problem, however, is that these powerful drugs have powerful side effects. By drilling down to a specific chemical reaction amongst specific cells, awareness of the entire system is lost. For example, Prozac almost always lifts a person out of depression, but in some poor souls, it also creates suicidal thoughts.

Acupuncture physiology is based on understanding of the Chinese royal court
5 Element Acupuncture, on the other hand, uses a less precise understanding of the body’s functioning that is more resilient to intervention and leads to fewer, and often no, side effects. The model of functioning that the Chinese developed more than 2000 years ago was a metaphor based on the Chinese Royal Court.

Why the Chinese court is more like a rival mob families than a happy commune
As 5 Element Acupuncturists, we speak of 12 officials who are charged with managing the various aspects of bodily functions. There harmonious function leads, as an ancient acupuncture text state, to a “state of health that impervious to disease” A lovely image comes to mind of cooperation and respect, but in reality, the Chinese court was much more like rival mob families during a truce. Beneath the surface is a dynamic tension between powerful forces that keeps the entire system in balance.

All disease occurs because we have strayed from Nature’s Laws
In the body, when one official get weakened because we fail to follow Nature’s laws, the entire balance is threatened and makes the kingdom of the body vulnerable to internal collapse and invasion from the outside.

For example, let’s go back to our choice of depression. In 5 Element Acupuncture, depression is classified as a “lack of joy.” There are four officials who influence joy, but for our discussion, we will focus on the Heart Protector. On the emotional level, the Heart Protector is in charge of our expression of joy. If the Heart Protector is weakened, joy cannot be generated.

Once an acupuncturist identifies the Heart Protector as central to the patient’s lack of joy, he will select points along the Heart Protector Meridian to rebuild the integrity of the Heart Protector. The acupuncturist may also prescribe some fun physical activity such as Zumba classes to further strengthen the functioning of the Heart Protector. Studies have shown that exercise has a powerful affect on mood.

Below is a simplified table of the 12 officials, their “job” title, and the main function they perform in the body.

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Official Title Special Power
Heart: The Supreme Controller Maintains order
Small Intestine: Sorter of the pure from the Impure Separate waste from usable material and send it to be eliminated
Bladder: The Banker Manages fluids
Kidney: The minister who does energetic work and excels through ability and cleverness Stores the essences
Heart Protector: Minister of the center who guides the subjects in joys and pleasures Protects access to the heart
Triple Warmer: Minister of waterways for warmth and connections Manages adaptation to the environment
Gall Bladder: The minister of upright judgement and decision making Ability to discern reality
Liver: The general who excels in strategic planning Governs the smooth flow of energy
Lung: Prime Minister Receiver of the breaths of heaven
Colon: Minister of elimination Removes the dregs from digestion
Stomach: Minister in charge of rotting and ripening Prepares food to be transformed into energy
Spleen: Minister in charge transformation and transportation Distributes nourishment throughout the body
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The best suerkraut I ever made.

Just because this is my first sauerkraut doesn’t mean it’s not my best. LOL!

Graphic.007
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A short introduction to the 5 Elements

Modern medicine is based on biochemistry. The body is understood in terms of chemical reaction that happen inside of organs and individual cells. This approach isolates and zooms in on specific reaction in the body and attempts to alter them with medication. By comparison, 5 Element acupuncture is based on zooming out and grouping together related body functions and the environmental factors that influence them.

The heart of 5 Element Acupuncture are the 5 Elements are their corresponding functions in the body. For example, 5 Element Theory states that there is a link between chewing and thinking because they are both associated with the Earth Element. Today’s studies confirm this ancient wisdom. Below is a chart of the 5 Elements and some of the correspondences.


FIRE EARTH METAL WATER WOOD
Officials Heart
Small Intestine
Circulation/Sex
Triple Warmer
Lung
Colon
Spleen
Stomach
Kidney
Bladder
Liver
Gall Bladder
Sense Touch Taste Smell Hearing Sight
Sense Organ Tongue Mouth Nose Ears Eyes
Fortifies Pulse Muscles Skin Bones Ligaments
Flavor Bitter Sweet Pungent Salty Sour
Sound Laughing Singing Weeping Graoning Shouting
Color Red Yellow White Blue Green
Odor Scotched Fragrant Rotten Putrid Rancid
Emotion Joy Sympathy Grief Fear Anger
Climate Heat Damp Dry Cold Wind
Spirit Shen
Purpose
Yi
Thought
Po
Physical Urges
Chih
Will
Hun
Soul


The 5 Elements are the foundational understanding of how the body works in 5 Element Acupuncture. Unlike the Greek system of four elements (water, earth, fire, air), the 5 Element system does not believe that a human being is literally a mixture of the 5 Elements.

A more accurate translation of the Chinese Wu Xing (5 Elements) would be “five phases” or “five aspects.” In fact, to fully understand 5 Element theory, you must always keep in mind that the concept of Yin/Yang is the foundation on which it rests. Yin/Yang is the simple and profound observation that dynamic systems cycle. Take, for example, the dynamic of rainfall. Water evaporates as vapor, gathers as clouds, falls to Earth as rain, pools in bodies of water only to evaporate and start the cycle again. The Yang phase is the vapor rising and the Yin Phase is the rain falling.

The five elements are, at their simplest, an expansion of this idea of Yin/Yang. Instead of identifying only two phases in a dynamic cycle, five are identified. Like the expanding part of a cycle is understood as yang and the contraction phase yin, the 5 Element System identifies different phases of the contraction and expansion and calls these phases the five elements of a system. The five elements are Water, Wood, Fire Earth and Metal.

One of the simplest ways to understand the 5 Elements is to divide the year into five seasons instead of four. Winter is equivalent to the Water phase, Spring is represented by Wood, Summer by Fire, and Autumn by Metal. The fifth season, Late Summer, is place in between Summer and Autumn and is the time of ripening and harvest. It’s the time on our farm when the tomatoes and zucchini ripen faster than you can pick and eat them.

Watching how our cows graze has given me a new appreciation and deeper understanding of the 5 Elements. I believe the 5 Element system is an ancient manual for survival. Originally, the 5 Elements were represented much like the American Indian medicine wheel with Earth in the center. This reflected the life cycle of nomadic hunter gatherers like the plains Indians in America and the Mongols in China.

Old 5 Element Diagram
For these ancient tribes, Mother Earth was the central figure and needed special care so she would give up her bounty. In Spring, the new green grass would attract wild herd of buffalo. This signaled the end of Winter and the arrival of a new food supply. As spring progressed and the animals grazed their preferred grasses, they would leave behind “weeds.” In our pasture the cows eat around the napweed. Over a few weeks, these weeds would crowd out the preferred grasses and then the animals would move to more distant pastures, making hunting more difficult.

The plains nomads solved this problem with Fire. After the herds moved on, the nomads would burn the prairie killing the mature weeds and giving grass a chance to grow. The new fresh grass would then lure the buffalo back to the nomads. In this ancient system, the Fire season yields to “The Return,” or the Metal season. This was a time of celebration and giving thanks to Mother Earth for her bounty and preparing for the coming cold and barrenness of Winter.

Everyone should see a cow kick up her heels when the gate to new pasture of young grass is opened. It’s also interesting to note that the flesh and eggs of animals fed young grass have more nutrients.

5 Element Diagram
As centuries passed and agriculture began to be the main force shaping civilization, pastoral life called for a different understanding of the seasons. This new understanding gave rise to the current depiction of the 5 Elements as equal phases instead of Mother Earth as the center.

As farmers learned to work the soil, Mother Earth faded from consciousness as the mysterious source of food and became just another aspect of the natural world to be managed in order to produce a crop and keep a village supplied with food.

Somewhere along the line, a brilliant person had the insight, “As it is without, so it is within.” This means that just as the 5 Elements had become essential for understanding and managing the natural environment, the same wisdom and insight could be used to understand the dynamic landscape of a human being to keep her healthy and vital. This moment of inspiration was the beginning of 5 Element acupuncture.


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A short introduction to 5 Element Acupuncture

The particular branch of acupuncture that I practice is called 5 Element Acupuncture. Like other branches of traditional acupuncture, 5 Element Acupuncture’s philosophical underpinnings date back 2000 years to the first acupuncture book called The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine. By comparison, modern medicine is about 150 years old. So you can imagine there would be significant differences in the way 5 Element Acupuncture approaches heath care.

How 5 Element Acupuncture differs from modern medicine
To help understand the 5 Element style it’s helpful to compare it to the modern Western medicine you are familiar with. The table below was adapted from Peter Eckman’s wonderful history of 5 Element Acupuncture, In the Footsteps of the Yellow Emperor. Let’s contrast the underlying views of the two systems of medicine.

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Categories Western Medicine 5 Element Acupuncture
Foundation of understanding: Chemistry 5 Elements
Essential Functions: Cellular functions 12 Officials
Essential Structures: Anatomy Meridians and Points
Causes of Illness: Germs, Toxins Internal disharmony
Nature of Disharmony: Physical pathology Energy imbalance
Clinical Investigation: Medical tests Diagnostic conversation
Case Analysis: Disease process Causative Factor
Treatment: Drugs, surgery Acupuncture, diet

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Bypass surgery complications- it's not a bug; it's a feature!

According to a new study published by the American Physiological Society, patients undergoing surgery that shrinks the stomach and bypasses half of the small intestine, cannot handle fat digestion as well so their brain send signals to avoid eating fat. Like that’s a good thing?

Good grief! Don’t these doctors know you need to eat fat to stay healthy? The amount of fat needed varies from person to person, but we all need some. How are these people going to stay healthy over many years if all they want to eat are crackers and they cannot stomach healthy foods like avocados, salmon, pasture butter and grass fed beef?

Fats, including saturated fats, are critical to physical and mental health. For starters, without fat we cannot absorb the lipophylic vitamins D, A, E and K.

These researchers don’t have any idea that a surgically induced, long-term aversion to fat might be a problem. In fact, they think it’s so great they want to bottle it and sell it.

...”non-surgical therapies could be developed that mimic these mechanisms to offer safe and effective weight loss.

On an even more disturbing note, we can see the lack of introspection that leads iatrogenic illness (illness caused by medical examination or treatment) blinding the authors of this study. It doesn’t even occur to them that one of the reasons some of the patients who have poor outcomes might be malnutrition from lack of consumption of fat.

Of course, the researches might just be blind because they are studying rats and numbers collated from questionnaires. Lab researchers never have to sit and listen to the laundry list of complaints bypass patients have. Complaints caused by the “miracle” of aversion to fatty foods and the resulting trouble consuming enough calories and nutrients to stay healthy.

I have several patients who have had gastric surgery of one kind or another. The surgery can lead to dramatic changes, but it also comes with challenges that need to be faced head on. If you are struggling with life after bypass, I suggest you contact my friend Katie Jay at The National Association of Weight Loss Surgery. She offers wonderful support for people who are working to make their surgery a long term success.

The study is entitled “Gastric Bypass Reduces Fat Intake and Preference.” It appears in the Articles in Press section of the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology, published by the American Physiological Society.

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What the USDA food plate should have read

If you are looking to the government for advice on what to eat. I have one word for you - don’t.

If Congress kept it’s hands off the new dietary guidelines instead of taking re-election money from food companies, here is what it would look like.

Untitled
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Patient Letter

Margaret is not my typical patient. She is a high level amateur cyclist who rides 3-5 hours on her bicycle every day. For fun on the weekends she crisscrosses the country racing against other top cyclists.

Margaret originally came to me for a hamstring injury that was not healing. She stuck with acupuncture after her hamstring got stronger because she noticed how much the acupuncture was helping her recover from training. This allowed her to work harder and be more successful in her racing.

She sent me this letter after her last treatment.

Hi Mackay,

OMG, I cannot begin to describe how great yesterday's treatment worked.  As I left your office I could feel the left hamstring easing and the overall fatigue lifting.  I did my errands, wandered around Hannaford’s, etc., and eventually got home at about three.  I took a half hour nap and that really did the trick.  I am so glad that I was able to do that short ride before the treatment, so that I could get my circulation going again and ID what was going on.  Also, I was free to rest a bit post-treatment  and let the treatment really take hold.

Today I had a really good ride.  I woke up at 5, determined to beat the rain.  Of course, by the time I was actually ready to ride the storms were approaching so I jumped onto the laptop instead of the bike and I got some work done.  I eventually got out from 9 to noon, and rode through sprinkles and light rain.  My riding was strong and my 30 and 15 minute intervals were very good.  There was little to no discomfort in the left hamstring, certainly none while I was pedaling.  It was great!  I pushed the pace when I could, knowing that I will have to be just a bit stronger to deal with the altitude.

I got home, cleaned my bike, changed, ate lunch and then took a 2 hour nap.  Wow!  Collecting on the sleep that I missed this morning, apparently.  As I was waking up from that I realized that the pain that I had in my chest had been absent for a long time.  I probably never felt it again yesterday after I got off the treatment table.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know this NOW!  Thank you again for the continued care.  I could not be doing this without it.

Take care,

Margaret
USA Cycling Licensed Level 1 Coach
www.margaretthompsoncycling.com
www.margaretthompsoncycling.blogspot.com

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What ever happened to milk?

The milk you buy in the store is no longer milk. It’s a highly processed and manufactured food. I didn’t know this until my father-in-law started milking his American Milking Devon cows and I got to drink real raw milk. The difference is not just the taste, but the nutrient, microbial, and enzyme content.

The stuff you get in the store is basically powdered milk. Yuck, right?

What got me thinking about raw milk again was a post by Jimmy Moore about what happens to his blood sugar after drinking various things. (Jimmy Moore is one of the most important sources for health information of the web. If you are not familiar with him I highly recommend you spend a few minutes checking out his blog.)

Two of the drinks he tested were 2% “milk” and raw milk. Look at the difference and how unstable his blood sugar become when he drinks what most of us consider milk. I’ll tell what that means after you look at the graphs.

2Milk

RawMilk

You can see that the 2% “milk causes a dip in the blood sugar and then a fairly steep rise. While you can’t draw any broad conclusions based on just one person’s results, you can see that drinking 2% could actually cause you to get hungry because your blood sugar drops.

By comparison, the raw milk barely budges the blood sugar at all. Now theoretically, the only difference between raw milk and 2% is that the 2% has some of the fat taken out. Clearly, there is more to the story than that. Bottom line, raw milk is food. 2% “milk” is, well, I’m not sure what it is.

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Athletes discovering acupuncture helps them perform better

My dream coming out of acupuncture school was to treat professional athletes. However, I didn’t have the chutzpa to follow through. Twenty years ago athletes were very skeptical about acupuncture. It’s good to see them recognizing the value of acupuncture. Not only is it good for acupuncture, it’s good for the athletes as well.

Sylvia Thompson via Irishtimes.com

And, while it’s mainly still for the treatment of injuries, there are some sportspeople who are having acupuncture sessions prior to a sporting event to enhance performance.

Irish 440m runner David Gillick

David Gillick, 400 metres Irish Olympic athlete, is one such sportsperson who has found acupuncture beneficial. “My physiotherapist introduced me to dry needling about three years ago when I had extremely tight calf muscles,” explains Gillick.

“My body responded really well to the treatment and I’ve used it ever since if I’ve tight muscles. Just last Thursday, I had a tight Achilles tendon and she put five or six needles up the back of my leg and it released the tendon.”

Gillick says that if you’re stressed, you’re more likely to have an injury. “So acupuncture is also a way of offloading that stress, especially around now coming into the race season. A lot of athletes in the UK where I train are having acupuncture to relax them,” he adds.

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My Patient's favorite point increases blood flow to the brain.

The official name for this point is One Hundred Meetings, but my patients call it the Happy Point. Acupuncture texts explain that this point calms the spirit and quiets the mind. One patient told me it was like taking valium.
A recently released study shows that this point increases blood flow to the brain. You can see how if a patient would benefit from an increased blood flow how much better they would feel after this point was used. On the other hand, if there was already sufficient blood flow to a patients brain and you used the point, the patient would not feel much of a difference. That’s one of the benefits of acupuncture over drugs.
This summary of the research is provided by healthcmi.com.

New research shows that acupuncture at acupoint GV20 (DU20, Hundred Meetings, Baihui) increases blow flow to the brain without raising arterial blood pressure or pulse rate. The researchers sought to measure cerebral blow flow in an attempt to understand the mechanisms by which acupuncture induces a therapeutic effect. GV20 is well regarded for it ability to treat disorders related to the head and brain. Indications for the use of GV20 include dizziness, hypertension, hypotension, deficient memory, ear ringing (tinnitus), headaches, diminished vision, windstroke, and syncope.

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Even Mass General Hospital says acupuncture works for depression!

One of the things many of my patients are surprised about is the emotional component of acupuncture. Most patients just feel calmer and happier, but if there is some deeper emotional turmoil, an emotional response often follows treatment, sometimes immediately in the treatment room, and sometimes later after treatment.

Acupuncture works by reducing “friction” or “stuckness” in the body. If that friction is emotionally based, acupuncture frees up those buried emotions and releases them.

It’s nice to see rigorous studies confirming the softer side of acupuncture.

A new study concludes that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of major depressive disorder. The Depression Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital located in Boston, Massachusetts demonstrated that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of clinical depression for patients who are non-responsive to conventional pharmaceutical antidepressant therapies.

The Massachusetts General Hospital study documents that existing clinical evidence supports acupuncture as a stand-alone therapy for depression. This study researched the ability of acupuncture to augment conventional antidepressant therapy when patients did not respond to their medications. The study concluded that acupuncture is effective as an adjunct therapy to antidepressants for both partial and non-responders. Acupuncture was administered one to two times per week during the study and the researchers concluded that acupuncture was “safe, well-tolerated and effective” for patients suffering from depression. Based upon their findings, the researchers conclude that additional controlled trials are warranted.

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Why can't Harvard doctors admit they are wrong?

This Atlantic Wire headline made me spit my coffee all over my laptop.

Harvard Researchers Want Fat Kids Taken from Their Homes

”Despite the discomfort posed by state intervention, it may sometimes be necessary to protect a child," said Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer and researcher at Harvard's School of Public Health. The study's co-author, David Ludwig, says taking away peoples' children "ideally will support not just the child but the whole family, with the goal of reuniting child and family as soon as possible.”


Let’s put aside whether this idea is practical or not and let’s also put aside the long-term psychological impact of removing a child from his or her home, because there is a deeper issue here that is more troubling. The low-fat, high-carb dietary advice that these very same Harvard “experts” have been force feeding America since the science got “settled” by political consensus in a committee hearing on Capital Hill, is why THESE KIDS ARE FAT IN THE FIRST PLACE!

Dr. Briffa does a better job (calmer, no all-caps) commenting on the continuing fascination with the failed hypothesis that fat must be avoided for good health.

“Conventional dietary advice regarding fat consumption has been proven to have no effect on risk of heart attack or stroke or cardiovascular mortality or total mortality – they don’t prevent disease nor save lives. We should abandon them.”

Can you see what’s going on? Harvard experts tell Americans to cut fat out of their diet. Americans comply and cut fat and eat more carbs, which as Dr. Briffa points out, has no effect on heart disease. Now there is an obesity epidemic caused by eating too many carbs. (Start your education by reading Gary Taube’s Why We Get Fat.) And what is the so called experts’ solution? Everybody say it with me, “Cut fat out of your diet!”

The problem with these experts is they cannot conceive that they are wrong. They are the best and the brightest. They work at Harvard! They know what’s best for you! It couldn’t possibly be that a low-fat high-carb American Medical Association approved diet is making people sick, it must be you little people aren’t following our recommendations properly.

Therefore, since you are obviously incapable of following the shining path we have laid out for you, we are going to save your child from you. Don’t worry, we will give her (or him) back to you, sometime.

I think I’ll go home tonight and have a giant steak and a side of veggies, without bread, potatoes, bread or rice and congratulate my daughter Aurora, who is loosing weight without government intervention and turning the food pyramid upside down by eating more fat and less grains.

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How the cold wet Spring can cause illness in Autumn

Holy cow! It seems like it's rained every day since I sent out the last newsletter in February. Chinese medicine explains that a long cool Spring like we have had will create illness in the Autumn, the beginning of the cold and flu season. One explanation is that the lack of sunshine, and lack of exposure to sunshine, will create a deficit in vitamin D. You may think that I sound like a broken record when it comes to vitamin D, but until the entire Mohawk Valley is taking this critical nutrient, I'm not going to be quiet. Here are three steps you can take to ward off illness this Fall.
 
  1. Get 20 minutes of high noon sunscreen-free sun exposure on your face and arms, every day. Even the small amount of sunscreen in many cosmetics will block production of vitamin D.
  2. Get your vitamin D levels checked by your doctor (25-Hydroxy D to be precise). You want your level to be in the 65-70 range. Your doctor will be happy if you are in the 40's, but the full immunity benefits of vitamin D are not realized until your body is fully stocked.
  3. Take 5,000 iu per day until your levels approach 70. If your levels plateau, take 10,000 iu per day. (iu stands for international unit, a more precise measurement that weight, especially in small amounts)
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How to Live Well Your Second 50 Years

iStock_000006017034XSmall
Imagine going into the car dealer and buying your dream car. What would it be? A red Ferrari, the new Audi A12, a Corvette, a Mercedes convertible? But here’s the catch, this will be the last car you ever own. You would probably go out of your way to take care of your new “baby.” You wouldn’t miss oil changes. In winter, you would make sure the salt was washed off every day. You would get all the scheduled maintenance done, maybe even a little extra. You see what I’m getting at, right?

Have you heard the news about our current life expectancy? If you are my age, (somewhere on either side of 50) you are probably going to live for another 50 years! Think about that for a minute and let it sink in. Not too long ago, life expectancy in the U.S. was 63. Today, 10,000 men and women are turning 65 every day and most of them have another 20-30 years left to live. Is that sinking in yet? You have another lifetime to live. Will your body, mind and spirit support you during those years? That’s the million dollar question.

For better or worse, you can never trade in your body, mind nor spirit for a new model. Doctors are getting better and better at fixing and replacing parts, but there is still so much they can not do. Because you are going to live a long, long time, taking care of the small problems before they become BIG problems is more important than ever. For example, if you were only going to be active through your 60’s, a little arthritis in your knee is not a big deal. However, if you want to stay active well into your 80’s and beyond, you have to take care of that arthritis before it wrecks your knee and before you are too old for surgery.

This is why I encourage people to get monthly acupuncture treatments. 5-element acupuncture is great at keeping your body balanced so it can heal the small problems before they become big problems. There is no other health system like it. With monthly treatments, we can find small imbalances and correct them before they create damage to your body’s ability to heal itself. Acupuncture is no guarantee that you will never get sick, but studies show that people who receive regular acupuncture take fewer medications and have fewer surgeries.
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