Acupuncture Associates

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March 2011

In Tibetan Medicine, pulse diagnosis is an important examination

ADVICE CONFUSING REGARDING STATIN DRUGS

Knowledge about the effects of statin drugs continues to evolve: previous practice resulted from the belief that statin drugs reduce the risk of stroke caused by blood clots, and don’t increase the risk of strokes caused by bleeding. (Medscape).

A new study suggests that statin consumption will increase the risk of the stroke caused by bleeding, and so physicians should try to individualize treatment. (Archives of Neurology).

The best medicine has always been individualized, but a culture that craves a standardized, protocol based medical system has no place for such historical practice. In addition, medical training in the 21st century is also designed to produce medical workers who can administer “disease management” in a “performance-based” economic envelope.

LIVER CHI AND “SCREEN TIME”

Every patient who I see sooner or later hears about “liver qi” and my suggestion that their “screen time” be reduced. In the past, liver qi was certainly a problem, but its importance and dangerous nature has increased as technology has evolved.

The largest non emotional source of liver qi in our culture is the use of computer, PDA, phone and television screens. Staring into two or three screens for many hours a day contributes to mechanisms that create physical and emotional obstructions. Most of these have clinical consequences, according to Chinese medical theory.

I have noted the negative effects of liver qi for decades and there are effective techniques for addressing these imbalances with Oriental medicine, but prevention is better than treatment. In some places, doctors are becoming aware of the dangers of this technology and it is apparent that the risk is significant, and increasing.

One recent report is published in the Jan. 18 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. In the study, 4,512 adults who responded to the 2003 Scottish Health Survey were asked about leisure time activities. During 4.3 years of follow-up, 325 of these people died and 215 had a cardiovascular event. Compared with those who spent less than two hours a day in front of a screen, those who spent four or more hours watching TV or playing or working on the computer had a 48 percent increased risk for dying from any cause and a 125 percent increased risk for having a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.

Moreover, the risk calculations remained even after taking into account such factors as smoking, high blood pressure, weight, social class and exercise, the researchers noted. "Importantly, participation in exercise did not seem to mitigate against the harms associated with excessive screen times," said the head researcher. So, even if you exercise regularly, the benefit can be reversed by watching mindless entertainment or engaging in witless texting and internet surfing.

The solution is obvious but rarely implemented. Children should not have access to screen based phones or television without careful consideration for the negative effects that these have. Adults should reduce screen time dramatically. (HealthDay News).

GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTING

A program that uses volunteers to train senior citizens to identify fraud in the Medicare program recovered $76,176.00 in 2009 and saved Medicare, Medicaid and individuals $214,060.00. However, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General reports that the grants to conduct the program cost 9.3 million dollars. (Family Practice News June 15, 2010 p 47).

JOHNS HOPKINS PROFESSOR DECIDES SPECIALISTS ARE TO BLAME FOR EXPENSE, ERRORS

In an editorial, Professor Barbara Starfield, “university distinguished professor” at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, correctly points out that the annual per capita spending in the United States in 2010 was $7,290.00 per person, the highest of any industrialized country but that our life expectancy is nonetheless lower than 13 other countries that spend less.

Her study from 2009 points out that primary care providers in the U.S. have a much smaller scope of practice than their counterparts in other countries, resulting in more visits to specialists.

Dr. Starfield’s results indicate that when a patient sees only one primary care doctor in a year, 12-22 per cent report experiencing an error or adverse event. But if they see four or more doctors, half will report an error or adverse event each year. (Health Affairs 2005 w5;509-25).

The professor then proposes that seeing more specialists results in increased costs, diagnostic tests, and medications, each with its own adverse event rate. The professor suggests that more primary care doctors, with wider training, would provide improved care at lower costs than our present system, which heavily favors specialists and academic doctors such as herself.

Patients strongly prefer to consult multiple experts, a situation reinforced by a legal system that holds primary care doctors to the same standards of knowledge and ability as specialists. Add the fact that primary care practitioners work longer hours and are reimbursed at lower rates by government and private third parties, and it is easy to see that the professor’s suggestion that expanding primary care is the answer is purely academic.

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DRUG TRAFFICKERS MAKE COCAINE MORE DANGEROUS

A new syndrome, first seen in Alberta, Canada suggests that some drug traffickers exploit sophisticated pharmacology knowledge when they choose the additives for their drug trade. However, the drugs they are adding to the cocaine they sell causes destruction of bone marrow, a more dangerous side effect than those associated with cocaine itself.

Levamisole is a drug used to treat parasitic infections and has also been used in the past to treat colon cancer. In 2 to 15% of patients, it results in lowered levels of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that defends the body from infection. The drug is thought to indirectly increase the number of dopamine receptors in the brain and also affects acetylcholine receptors, which may increase the stimulating effects of cocaine, thus increasing the potency of the cocaine while also delivering increased risk. (Consultant, Feb 2011; 51:2, p 71).

POMEGRANATE JUICE REDUCES RISK IN KIDNEY FAILURE PATIENTS

Patients whose kidney function has deteriorated to the point where dialysis is necessary are at increased risk for infection and cardiovascular disease. Researchers at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology dosed patients with a placebo or pomegranate juice at the start of dialysis sessions three times a week for a year.

Those who drank the juice had indications of less inflammation as well as 36% fewer hospitalizations for cardiovascular events, and 40% less hospitalizations related to infection. (Paper, 43rd Annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology 11/19/2010 Denver CO).

ORAL BISPHOSPHONATEES MAY DOUBLE RISK OF ESOPHAGEAL CANCER

People who take oral bisphosphonates for bone disease for more than 5 years may be doubling their risk of developing esophageal cancer. The relative risk also increases with duration of use; it doubles over about a 5-year period, according to the authors of the new study, led by Jane Green, PhD, a clinical epidemiologist from the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

"The incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma is rising more rapidly than any other malignancy in the past 5 years in Western countries. The reasons are unknown," said Ivy Altomare, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Duke University. (Medscape)

FLAG FENG-SHUI

Just as with Chinese medicine, the practice of feng-shui appears mystical to some. In fact, the principles of feng-shui (literally wind and water) are straightforward and consistent with good decorating and color choices, along with an understanding of the optimal placement of household and environmental features to enhance the enjoyment and chi flow inside and outside the home and office.

One of the simplest and most effective techniques that can enhance feng shui in the home environment is to place one or more flags outside where they can be easily seen from inside. Although exact placement can be enhanced when an experienced practitioner is involve, most of the time practical considerations can help with determining where a flagpole can be placed.

The exact type of flag is not important, but in general bright, primary colors are best. The Tibetan tradition is to use flags of five different colors for this reason. These flags are arranged vertically on a pole, or many times can be hung suspended from a horizontal line. The vertical flags are from 8-15 feet long, and any number of flags can be hung horizontally, usually flags that are 2 x 2 feet or larger are a good size. Tibetan flags are known as rLung-tha, which translates to “wind-horse”. Most flags have Tibetan prayers printed on the fabric, and it is thought that as the wind blows through the flag, these beneficial energies are disbursed into the air.

An American flag is another option. There are laws and etiquette that relate to the American flag, where and how it should be displayed, so it is helpful to learn about these before purchasing a flag. All flags should be replaced when they become wind damaged or faded.

The most important benefit of a flag is that it attracts the eye to the sky and the horizon, as any moving object attracts the gaze. One of the most pernicious developments of modern times is the constant focus on a small area of a screen. Televisions, computer screens, cell phones, PDA’s and so on narrow the attention to a very few pixels, which tends to create liver qi. The antidote for this is to gaze into the distance. In the same fashion, hobbies such as birdwatching, nature walks, astronomy, and weather spotting are also helpful habits to cultivate.

The direction of the wind, as revealed by the flag is also a helpful guide to weather patterns. Modern life styles, aside from those who farm, fly, or sail, are not generally associated with an understanding of the importance of weather on our health and well-being. Yet, many disorders have relationships to the seasons and to external factors that are of significant value in diagnosis and treatment. Being aware of the effect of different environmental factors and directions of wind on symptoms can be very important information to convey to your doctor.

The visual stimulation and sound of flags strengthens the Heart Qi, an important component of health. A great many insomnia and psychiatric drugs, fear and anger, as well as conditions of repressed negative emotions and memories cause damage to the Heart Qi, resulting in depression and psychological imbalances. Prolonged disorders of Heart Qi can also lead to physical disorders of the cardiovascular systems.

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"Is Anyone Thinking?" Department

VAMPIRES AND WEREWOLVES AND GHOSTS, OH MY

Monsters are a curse on themselves and on humanity

Is no one besides me tired of the endless assault of fictional monsters across the land? What’s worse, instead of real monsters, they are huggable and sensitive monsters who endlessly pursue a cliché ridden search to find their “humanity”.

Horrible and frightening on the outside, their true inner nature is exactly the opposite – warm, caring and sensitive – but, oh so misunderstood.

Hogwash.

Book and screenwriters have the situation completely wrong. The misunderstood monster with a heart of gold or the angst filled “I can’t help myself but I hate what I do” monster endlessly portrayed by fifth rate fiction writers does not exist, and is a bad role model to boot.

Real monsters look just like everyone else, but they have no humanity on the inside. Their heartlessness is what makes them monsters, not their canines or fur or decaying flesh. They are insensitive to other’s suffering, and sometimes their own, and their repulsive acts and despicable behavior defines their monstrosity.

Because they are heartless, they have no moral compass. Remorse, if seen, is acted rather than felt. There is no hesitation to commit horrific crimes against their fellow men and women, friends, strangers, wives, husbands, children, parents, family members. It makes no difference.

In fact, the modern monster is much too easily understood. But true human beings, those who do have a heart and are saddened and shocked by the carnage of modern monsters, live mostly in denial that such monsters live all around them.

They remain in denial as mutilated and decaying bodies fill the case files of detectives in tiny hamlets, rural outposts, and enormous cities.

They remain in denial even as sensationalist print and screen media exploits an endless and burgeoning parade of those few degenerates who are actually caught, repackaging their passage through our feckless legal system as entertainment.

They remain in denial despite revelations that for every monster, the most recent horror is not the first, and that previous efforts at isolation, therapy, or rehabilitation, have failed, and monsters were released to prey again.

And, to no one’s surprise, monstrous acts were again the result. Monsters don't rehabilitate.

Monsters don’t indulge their urges every day. They are opportunists that slink beyond the glare of light, camouflaged by their ability to appear to be human beings. But, there are ways to tell.

Monsters delight at killing or torturing animals as children or adults.

Monsters are inventive at cruelty.

Not all narcissists are monsters, but all monsters are narcissists.

Monsters do not display humility, appreciation, or gratitude.

A great many monsters have mastered charm and their victims remain unaware of their peril until it is too late.

And, like their fictional counterparts, monsters are extremely dangerous. Even as individuals, their accumulated toll of horrors is too great to list.

Given power and position, they have covered the globe with blood and suffering, and continue to do so today.

Screen based fiction is a pleasant opiate for our society. Its success at lulling people into passivity, sleep and confusion is truly awesome.

Its negative effects on attention and intellect are evident in every corner of the United States. Minds are further addled by inept medical treatment.

Who is left who has the courage to identify, oppose and destroy the monsters?

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