Acupuncture Associates

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April 2010

In Tibetan Medicine, pulse diagnosis is an important examination


In a study of the effects of exercising on incidence of the common cold, 115 overweight, sedentary postmenopausal women were assigned to either a moderate intensity exercise group (45 minutes five times a week, most commonly walking) or a control group (one 45 minute stretching session a week).

In the last three months of the one-year study, the control group had almost three times as many colds as the exercisers. (Moderate-Intensity Exercise Reduces the Incidence of Colds Among Postmenopausal Women. American Journal of Medicine. 119:11; 937-942).


Increased physical exercise does not seem to reduce body mass index in children, suggesting that it is dietary habits rather than lack of exercise that is responsible for obesity.

Five hundred and forty-five children (mean age 4.2 years) were given three 30 minute exercise sessions a week over 24 weeks at nursery plus home based health education aimed at increasing physical activity through play and reducing sedentary behavior.

Although the children scored significantly higher than controls in measures of movement skills at six and 12 months, there was no change in body mass index. (Randomized controlled trial of primary school based intervention to reduce risk factors for obesity. BMJ 2001 323: 1029).

See the February 2010 editorial for reasons why I believe “dietary habits” are not germane to the problems of an increasingly obese population.


Radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) in the range emitted by mobile phones can cause damage to human spermatozoa.

When an Australian team exposed sperm to RF-EMR they found that their motility and vitality were significantly reduced, while mitochondrial generation of reactive oxygen species and DNA fragmentation were significantly elevated.

The researchers conclude that their findings have clear implications for the safety of extensive mobile phone use by males of reproductive age, since sperm DNA damage has been linked with poor fertility, an increased incidence of miscarriage and morbidity in the offspring, including childhood cancer. (Mobile phone radiation induces reactive oxygen species production and DNA damage in human spermatozoa in vitro. PLoS One. 2009 Jul 31;4(7):e6446).


Men whose mothers underwent fertility treatment to conceive them appear to have impaired reproductive health.

A total of 1925 men attending a compulsory physical examination to determine their fitness for military service volunteered for a study consisting of a physical examination and having samples of semen and blood taken.

Researchers found that those conceived with fertility treatment (47 men) had a 46% lower sperm concentration, a 45% lower total sperm count, smaller testes, fewer motile sperm and fewer morphologically normal sperm than the other men. They also had lower serum testosterone levels and free androgen index although the results were not statistically significant. (Fertility treatment and reproductive health of male offspring: a study of 1,925 young men from the general population. Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Mar 1;165(5):583-90).


One of the authors of the above maternal fish consumption study was also involved in a critical literature survey investigating links between the cultural symbolism of fish and the psychotropic effects of eating it.

The survey found that fish have been culturally labeled as symbols of emotional well-being and social healing in religious and medical practices for at least six millennia. The authors postulate that fish symbolism has become associated with the positive emotional states induced by consumption of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

Consumption of these oils, found in high concentrations in seafood, has been found to reduce depression, aggression and anger while improving mental well-being. They point to evidence that formation of emotional memory (in the hippocampus and limbic system) and the processing of social context (in the cortex) appear to be optimized by diets rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

They suggest using this cultural perception of fish as a symbolically healing food in public health improvement messages. (Cultural symbolism of fish and the psychotropic properties of omega-3 fatty acids. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2006 Oct-Nov;75(4-5):227-36).


The study known as “A Diabetes Outcome and Progression Trial” suggested that women who received rosiglitazone had significantly increased rate of fractures when compared with women taking metformin or glyburide.

In addition, a preliminary review of interim fracture data in another large, ongoing, long term controlled study is consistent with these results, according to a letter sent to health care professionals by the Food and Drug Administration. Most of the fractures among the women were in the arm hand or foot, which are different than those typically found in postmenopausal osteoporosis. (Family Medicine News March 15, 2007 p 22).

Rosiglitazone has also been associated with increased risk of heart attack and heart failure at least since 2007, causing some to question why no action has been taken in the past three years.

New York Times, Feb 19, 2010

Pharmalot, Feb, 2010

CNN, Feb, 2010



Nearly 50% of National Health Service staff feels overstretched the point where they fear they cannot do their jobs properly, according to a new survey by the UK’s Healthcare Commission (which became the Care Quality Commission on April 1st).

The poll of 160,000 workers showed the a third did not feel valued by bosses and just over a quarter had experienced work-related stress, while 47% of staff said they did not feel there were enough people compared with the expected workload. (


A study to assess the accuracy of manual examination to determine breech babies in late pregnancy has found that only 70% were correctly identified. Results were less accurate for women who were overweight or who had had a previous pregnancy. (BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.38919.681563.4F).


Cell culture experiments carried out by Chinese researchers have revealed an anti-inflammatory action of ginseng (Ren Shen). They identified nine separate compounds called ginsenosides in ginseng extract.

By testing the effects of individual ginsenosides on cell cultures, they showed that seven of them could inhibit the expression of inflammatory markers and suppress cellular pathways associated with the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha.

The suppressive effect of individual ginsenosides on inflammatory processes was, however, less than that of the crude ginseng extract or the mixture of ginsenosides. (Bioactivity-guided identification and cell signaling technology to delineate the immunomodulatory effects of Panax ginseng on human promonocytic U937 cells. J Transl Med. 2009 May 14;7:34).


A systematic review and meta-analysis of acupuncture for various depressive conditions has concluded that it is safe and constitutes an effective treatment for some forms of depression.

Of 207 clinical studies of acupuncture retrieved from databases, twenty were considered to be of high enough quality to be subjected to meta-analysis. The results showed that the efficacy of acupuncture as monotherapy was comparable to antidepressants in improving clinical response and alleviating symptom severity of major depressive disorder, but not different from sham acupuncture.

Acupuncture was also found to be superior to antidepressants and waiting-list controls in improving both response and symptom severity of post-stroke depression. The incidence of adverse events in acupuncture intervention was significantly lower than with antidepressants. (The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture therapy in depressive disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis. J Affect Disord. 2009 Jul 24. [Epub ahead of print]).


Adding acupuncture to medical treatment for depression can reduce the amount of drugs needed to treat the condition and therefore reduce the side-effects of medication.

In a Chinese randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study 80 patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) were randomized to two groups: one received standardized acupuncture, 10 mg/day fluoxetine and placebo (VA) and the other received sham acupuncture and 20-30 mg/day fluoxetine (SA).

Acupuncture was applied five times a week over a period of six weeks. At the end of the treatment period, therapeutic response rates were not significantly different between groups (80.0% for VA and 77.5% for SA).

Patients in the VA group also showed better improvement than the SA group in symptoms of anxiety and suffered fewer antidepressant side-effects. (Combination of acupuncture and fluoxetine for depression: a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug;15(8):837-44).


An American pilot study suggests that acupuncture may have a protective effect on white blood cell (WBC) populations in women undergoing chemotherapy for gynecological malignancies.

Twenty-one ovarian cancer patients received either active or sham acupuncture while undergoing myelosuppressive chemotherapy. A standardized acupuncture protocol involving manual and electrical stimulation was applied two to three times per week for a total of 10 sessions, starting one week before the second cycle of chemotherapy.

The median leukocyte value in the acupuncture group was significantly higher on the first day of the third cycle of chemotherapy than in the control (8600 cell/µL versus 4400 cell/µL), and the incidence of grade two to four leukopenia was less in the acupuncture group than in the sham group (30% versus 90%).

The authors conclude that acupuncture treatment resulted in clinically relevant trends of higher WBC values during chemotherapy, which suggests a potential myeloprotective effect of acupuncture. (Acupuncture for chemotherapy-induced neutropenia in patients with gynecologic malignancies: a pilot randomized, sham-controlled clinical trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Jul;15(7):745-53).


"Is Anyone Thinking?" Department

If it's bad for jet engines, it's bad for you! (picture by Reuters)


“The UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) has said that the cloud of ash from Iceland's recent volcanic eruption is not a significant public health risk. The plume of volcanic ash has grounded flights across the UK, but the HPA says that it is "trapped" in the atmosphere at high altitude.“ (BBC News)

Really. Of course the secret word here is "significant", which can mean anything at all. Someday, perhaps government "protection" experts will develop the character to tell the truth: "This is a cloud filled with a variety of known and unknown toxins. Exposure will be hazardous."

The dust cloud contains silica and powdered rock, both of which are already known to cause problems when inhaled.


You would think doctors would want to wash their hands more often, given what they do and see

For about one thousand dollars a unit, this soap dispensor will use "infared signals to read a name tag of the person washing his or her hands and transmits the information to an office computer. The practice can generate reports about who is washing his or her hands and how often."

That there is a market for this device is another sad reflection on the state of the American medicine and its belief in a "top down" regulatory climate.

In the traditional Oriental systems, the character of the practitioner is considered to be the best indication that protocols and rituals of healing, such as handwashing, will be followed. A program of developing character according to the traditional guidelines would be of much greater value to patients and our profession than any number of computerized soap nannys. (Xhale Innovations)


21st century medicine has found the answer to disease, and it is taxes! Picture from the American Enterprise Institute

Legend associates the value of salt with payment for Roman Soldiers, so the word "salary" has the same root as the word for salt.

In an ironic twist, California academics have determined that a 40% tax on salt will save 22.4 billion in medical costs in a "study" published in the March 2nd Archives of Internal Medicine

The researchers used a "computer-simulated model" to generate its results.

Right there I think we know that the validity of this prediction of cost savings is so far removed from the reality of people's behavior, that it is astonishing that such exercises in fantasy are published and seriously discussed.

The research team acknowledged that one response to reduced salt flavor in foods "might lead people to consume more fats and sugars or simply more calories, leading to other health risks."

In other words, they simply have no clue what the results would be of taxing salt. But, at least its a tax, and taxes are the solution for all medical problems in the 21st century.

Computers allow you to make very precise predictions with incorrect data, and predictions can be scaled up or down with a glide of a mouse. 22.4 billion dollars seems so attractive that maybe we can just ignore the fact that this study is a waste of paper.

Astonishingly, this exercise in computer fiction was supported by grants from the Veteran's Administration Palo Alto CA. Health Care System, the Stanford University Management Science and Engineering Advisory Board Fellowship Fund, the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, The National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Your tax money at work, wasted on funding studies that recommend more taxes, for the benefit of tax-supported and tax-favored organizations. Hmmm....


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