Acupuncture Associates

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January 2006

BEST WISHES FOR THE NEW YEAR

I want to thank all of you for your confidence and support over the past year, and for many of you, quite a few years. As I begin my 25th year of practice it is humbling to reflect on how little I would know if it was not for the lessons that each of you have taught me, and the opportunity you have provided for me to put the skills and wisdom of my honorable teachers into practice. I believe physicians do not learn anything of lasting value from books or lectures because medicine is a relationship, not a business. In a time when traditional medical knowledge and values are rapidly disappearing from the Earth, it is a privilege to be able to keep some of these rare and difficult to learn techniques alive. 

 

WHAT DO I DO AFTER THE PAIN IS BETTER?

Many times patients will ask me after acupuncture or Chinese herbs have improved their pain, “Well, what can I do now? Will the pain come back?” The answer is not always simple. Some disorders can truly be resolved or put into long-term remission, and there is no need of further treatment. However, the original source of the imbalance may still be a factor in a patient’s life, so conditions of the environment, work or play habits, dietary or emotional factors, or genetic inheritance may reestablish the imbalance and cause symptoms to return. In such cases, treatment must be continued.

 

POSTURAL TRAINING - With regard to neck and back pain, posture is one factor that may cause symptoms, and particular exercises can sometimes be helpful to change habits of body use. In my practice, I recommend Alexander lessons as a valuable first step to changing habits of sitting and standing that contribute to pain. Although developed by Fredrick Matthias Alexander at the turn of the last century primarily for actors and other performers, many people with pain related to repetitive activity as well as prolonged standing and sitting can benefit from a series of lessons. In my experience, skillful application of Alexander technique has been helpful in situations where conventional physicians would be creating more risk and less benefit by recommending drugs or surgery.

 

It is not easy to learn the Alexander lessons from a book or video, so I recommend that you seek out a qualified teacher. As with acupuncture or other traditional medical systems, it is a process that needs to be experienced.

 

REHABILITATION EXERCISES - I recommend the system of exercise for back and neck pain that Robin McKenzie, a physical therapist from Australia, developed. Both groups of exercises are detailed in his book, Seven Steps to a Pain Free Life. This inexpensive paperback contains precise and simple graded exercises for addressing both acute and chronic pain. I like the fact that you can do these yourself, without the need for a therapist. We still have a few copies available at the office.  (L.B. Grotte, January 2006)

 

STATINS FOR ALL

If your values fall below the slanted line, and you are not a smoker, Dr. Feeman asserts that this is an area of 'virtual immunity' to atherosclerotic disease.

In contrast to those who think every American should be consuming statin drugs to obtain the lowest possible LDL, a reasonable approach that accounts for the adverse effects and cost of these drugs would be welcome. A pictograph from W.E Feeman, Jr., M.D. points out that 85 to 94 percent of patients who actually are at risk for atherosclerotic events and disease have values above the slanting line drawn on the graph. In other words, those with lower systolic blood pressures can tolerate a higher CRF than those who have high blood pressure. (Feeman W.E., Jr. Letters to the Editor, Adv. Stud. Med. 2005;5;1;20)                                                      

 

LEECH MEDICINE

Researchers in Germany have found that a single application of 4 to 6 locally applied leeches significantly reduced the severe pain of knee osteoarthritis compared to a 28-day topical diclofenac regimen. Although the difference between pain scores in the two groups was no longer significant after day 7, differences for function, stiffness, and total symptoms remained significant in favor of leech therapy until the end of study and for quality of life until day 28. The authors of the study say that results were not affected by outcome expectation. Leeches are known to inject more than thirty substances when they suck living tissue. There are currently around 70,000 leech treatments given for pain in Germany every year. (Annals of Internal Medicine, 4 November 2003 Volume 139 Issue 9 | Pages 724-730).

 

OBESITY DAMAGES SPERM

An analysis of the sperm of 500 men has demonstrated a direct correlation between their body mass index (BMI) and sperm volume and quality. The researchers at Reproductive Biology Associates, a private IVF clinic in Atlanta, USA, believe that sperm start to deteriorate as soon as men go beyond a healthy weight for their size. The higher the BMI, the lower the sperm count was likely to be, and if fertilization did occur the greater the probable risk of miscarriage due to impaired sperm quality. (Abstract P-355, Poster session at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine).

 

OBESITY IN THE YOUNG

Danish researchers who analyzed data from 29,242 boys and girls aged 13 to 15 years from Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Flemish Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Ireland, Israel, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, and the United States, found that the United States had the highest rates of overweight young people, followed by Ireland, Finland, and Greece. The lowest rates were found in Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Flemish Belgium, France, Germany, and Sweden. (Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004;158:27-33).

 

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MENTAL POWERS

Post stroke patients who were asked to do mental exercises, only imagining they were moving the affected limb, showed improvements in motor functioning. (http://www.northwestern.edu/univ-relations/media_relations/releases/2003_11/hemiparesis.html).

 

COLON CANCER

A comprehensive study on colon-cancer risk, which included more than 3,000 older people has found that higher intake of cereal fiber (more than 4g a day) and vitamin D are associated with reduced risk of serious colon polyps that may lead to the disease. Other factors associated with reduced risk of colon cancer were the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and daily aspirin. Smoking was associated with a twofold increase in tumors or benign polyps (which often become cancerous), and a higher risk was also found in those who had a close relative with colorectal cancer. Consumption of red meat and alcohol slightly increased the risk. About 55,000 Americans die from the disease each year. (JAMA. 2003;290:2959-2967).

 

SLOW CONCEPTION

Women who take longer than a year to conceive have a higher than normal risk of having a premature birth, a full-term baby with low birth weight, or a Caesarean section, according to a large Danish study of nearly 56,000 births from the Danish National Birth Cohort. The increases ranged from approximately 30% to over twice the risk and were independent of any infertility treatment the women might have received. (Hum. Reprod. 2003 18: 2478-2484).

 

MIXED RESULTS FROM CANNABIS MS TRIAL

A three year double-blinded trial into the use of cannabis in multiple sclerosis, involving more than 600 patients in the United Kingdom, has shown no clear verdict on whether the drug can ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The patients in the active part of the trial took oral capsules containing either whole cannabis extract or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for fifteen weeks. Although there was no significant objective improvement in spasticity compared to controls taking a placebo, active participants showed an improvement in the time taken to walk 10 meters and reported significant improvements in pain, sleep quality, spasms, and spasticity, though not in irritability, depression, tiredness, tremor, or energy. (Lancet 2003;362: 1517-26).

 

GENERAL PRACTITIONERS & CAM

Half of general medical practices in the UK now offer patients complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), compared to 40% in 1995. Acupuncture and homoeopathy are the modalities most likely to be provided by the primary healthcare team within a practice, with manipulative therapies mostly provided by independent practitioners. The proportion of CAM services supported by full or partial payments by patients rose from 26% to 42% between 1995 and 2001. (Family Practice 2003:20:575-7)

 

HRT USE DECLINES

More than half of New Zealand women stopped taking HRT within six months of the publication of results from a large trial in 2002 concluded that it was not suitable for the prevention of chronic diseases. 58% of women originally stopped taking HRT, but 18% started again, mostly because of the return of menopausal symptoms. (BMJ 2003;327:845-846).

 

RISE IN HOSPITALISATIONS FOR ALLERGIES

There was a highly significant increase in hospital admissions for systemic allergic diseases in England in the eleven years up to 2001. The largest increases in rates was for anaphylaxis and food allergy, whilst the greatest actual number of admissions was for urticaria,. Admissions for angio-edema rose least. (BMJ 2003;327:1142- 1143).

 

SMOKING

A study of over 22,000 Norwegians has found that smokers were 1.8 times more likely to develop multiple sclerosis (MS) than non-smokers. The increase in risk was greater in men (2.75 times) than in women (1.61 times), and for both men and women was increased regardless of whether they had quit by the time symptoms appeared, or were still smoking. The MS generally emerged 15 years on average after the start of smoking. (Neurology 2003 61: 1122-1124). Meanwhile new research indicates that female smokers are twice as likely to develop lung cancer as male smokers. (Lung Cancer, January 2004). And the first long-term study to assess the effect of maternal smoking during pregnancy has found that children of mothers who smoked a pack or more per day of cigarettes while pregnant were almost twice as likely to become nicotine dependent compared to children whose mothers did not smoke. (Am J Psychiatry 2003 160:1978-1984). Finally, it appears that women who smoke during pregnancy have a significantly greater risk of having a child with symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). (Am J Psychiatry 2003 160:1985-1989).

 

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