Posts Tagged ‘remedy’
Apr 16, 2012
This morning on NPR there was a very informative piece about the causes of migraines and why women suffer more from migraines than men.
The story explains the that one reason migraines occur is because of bursts of electrical activity in specific areas of the brain. Often they begin in the visual center, which is why people will get auras from migraines. Then it will travel through different regions explaining why there can be so many different symptoms related to the migraine headache.
Originally women were thought to get more migraine was because women cannot handle stress. However, now researchers are seeing links between hormone imbalances and migraines.
Acupuncture for Migraine headaches
Migraine headaches are very commonly treated with acupuncture. In our clinic, we use acupuncture and acupressure as an effective remedy to reduce the symptoms and frequency of migraines. Here are some testimonials from our patients who have found relief from migraine headaches with acupuncture.
Read more on acupuncture for migraine headaches:
Feb 13, 2012
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a term that refers to medicine practices developed in China and other parts of Asia. Traditional Chinese Medicine generally covers many types of modalities including acupuncture and moxibustion, Chinese Herbal remedies, Tui Na or Chinese Medical Massage, as well as other manual therapies including gua sha (spoon massage or coining) and cupping.
In China, the term Chinese medicine (in Chinese it is called Zhong Yi 中医) often refers to the practice of Chinese herbal medicine. Although it can also refer to the entire practice of Chinese medicine. While acupuncture refers to acupuncture and moxibustion.
Some of these therapies are performed only by experienced physicians, such as prescribing complex herbal formulas or doing acupuncture. But others are considered more home remedies. This may include folk herbal remedies for common colds or manual therapies such as gua sha which can be used for nausea, car sickness, the common cold, and other common illnesses.
Common ideas in Chinese Medicine
While the therapies are diverse, done both by physician and family members, they all rest on the holistic view of the body and health that developed over 2000 years ago. A primary idea is that health is a state of balance in the body and between the body and the environment. The body has qi, energy, which flows through channel and meridians. Also, that environmental factors such as cold, heat, and dampness can cause illness. And these environmental factors represent certain illness within the body.
For example, if you have a cold, a physician may write an herbal prescription to release the heat to help you get rid of the cold. But the home remedy of gua sha spoon massage on the neck and upper back can also release the heat.
Chinese Medicine: An Evolution of Ideas
Many of the dominant concepts in Chinese medicine were discussed in the early books of the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classics as well as the Treatise on Cold Diseases. Although they referenced older works, they are no longer in existence. Over the years, physicians and scholars have debated these ideas evolving into the contemporary tradition of modern Chinese Medicine.
Yet, it is important to understand that Chinese medicine is an evolving tradition. These are not static concepts, but ideas that scholars, physicians and even individual family lineages have expanded on and explored. Chinese medicine has a strong tradition of writing, discussion, and debate. There is a great diversity of ideas. Through experience and training a Chinese Medicine practitioner will develop their own style.
For example, certain physicians believed that the best way to use Chinese medicine for psoriasis was to clear heat and toxins from the body. However, other physicians believed that psoriasis developed from internal cold and the body must be warmed. These debates continue today.
In fact, some of the significant therapeutic strategies of modern Chinese medicine physicians were not developed until recently. As I mentioned in my last post, the development of electro-acupuncture for pain was only developed within the last century, a relatively short time for the history of Chinese medicine.
Dec 12, 2011
For the last 50 years, the placebo effect has been a dirty word. Real interventions make a physiological change in the body. Placebos do nothing but convince the patient that something is different. Reality states otherwise. Ted Katpchuk, an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine doctor who focuses on the placebo effect in his research, wants to change all that.
In last week’s New Yorker, an article focuses on the placebo and the scholars who think about and examine the placebo.
What is a Placebo?
One of the difficult and fundamental questions is what is a placebo? We’ve come to believe a placebo is an inert intervention. A sugar pill.
In most clinical trials of medication, or even with some physical interventions, a group of people with a given condition are given active therapy or medication. The outcomes in this group are compared with a group of people who are given a placebo, but most often are not told which group they are in. Usually both groups improve, even people give the placebo. If the medication is successful, the people on active medication will improve more. The the placebo group improvement is called the placebo effect.
The placebo effect is thought to stem from a belief that a given intervention will help. People convince themselves that the medication is working, and miraculously it does. But the placebo does not change the body physiologically. Or so we thought.
Is the Placebo Inert?
One colossal challenge to the concept of a placebo, is that many studies have shown that a placebo is not inert. Meaning that your body has physiological reactions to taking a placebo. This could mean that belief in a specific drug or intervention actually stimulates your body to heal.
This is particularly true with chronic pain. Early placebo studies have shown that placebo intervention for pain relief actually influence the releases natural pain killers in your brain.
The All Encompassing Placebo
Many of the placebo researchers go further. A placebo is any aspect of a given intervention that may help you feel better, but without a specific physiological interaction with the body. This idea encompasses the whole experience of an individual. The environment of the office, the taste of the pill or tea, and how much the practitioner listens to you. The article even discusses how different colors and shapes of pills have various placebo effects.
A powerful concept in placebo research examines how a given intervention, be it medication, massage, or surgery, is more than simply the intervention itself. For example, my statistics professor at Mount Sinai would often discuss the fact that the clinical trial itself is a placebo. Patients in a clinical trial tend to do better on their medication than the general public. This could be because they feel special, receiving a new medication, being treated by expert doctors with a large staff at their disposal. Then, in the general public, the medications tend to work less well.
Doctor Patient relationship
Kaptchuk would like to explore how best to harness the power of placebos in the healing process. He has focused on the patient doctor interaction as placebo. He even ran a clinical trial of a placebo intervention on IBS where the patients were actually told they were taking a placebo, and that it had clinical efficacy in the past. And amazingly, it worked.
However, this dilemma brings a difficulty with the word placebo. Doctor patient relationship is a skill. A skill that many medical schools have begun to teach, as we loose this skill to technological advances.
Perhaps careful explanation, a caring tone, and an ear to listen can be called a placebo, as it is a non-specific intervention. It is not a chemical pill or an herbal remedy. However, it is also a skill, that can be developed and improved. Kaptchuk would certainly agree with teaching how to wield the healing power of the doctor patient relationship.
Yet, the placebo has a negative tone with the medical establishment, and also much of the population, because we are being fooled into getting better. Perhaps there needs to be a new name for a non-specific intervention.
Placebo: The Social Stigma
What is radical about the placebo idea is that nobody wants to believe that a placebo helps them. And its not just Western medical physicians. Acupuncturists, Chiropractors, and other modalities, as well as patients, fight against the idea that whatever intervention is helping, is a placebo. That means its all in your head.
Kaptchuk and others want to change this stigma. Even if the placebo is all in your head, so what. You feel better. You’re healthier and that’s what counts. But what’s interesting, in some cases, the placebo intervention can actually alter physiology of the body.
A Placebo or Common Sense
A comforting office environment has often be chalked up to placebo. But why would you not want to be comfortable in a doctor’s office with soothing colors and music? It is nerve wrecking enough to go to the doctor. And stress has a real effect on the body. It is just common sense to make the office nice.
I think there is a danger when discussing design of a pill and patient doctor interaction both as placebo because this could reduce the importance of the doctor patient relationship.
Acupuncture itself is an interesting question about the placebo effect. I have a hunch that Kaptchuk believes that acupuncture has a real physiological effect, as he has been involved in many studies comparing acupuncture physiology to placebo physiology, and there is often a difference. But it is not discussed in the article, because the point is that it helps people feel better.
Harnessing the Placebo
The field of studying the placebo itself is young. It questions central tenets to clinical research and shows that our bodies can physically heal ourselves of certain chronic conditions. We do not just react to medication, but also to caring, touch, and the environment.
Like much of good science, these studies bring up more questions than they answer. What is the most important aspect of placebo to focus on. Soft voice, listening to the patient, the examination. Or is it the office lighting, soft colors, and music. As the definition expands, the concept of the placebo can encompass almost anything.
Probably the best way to harness the power of many aspects of the placebo is by not calling it a placebo. Doctor patient relationship, a comforting healing environment, and physical touch are all words that don’t have the placebo stigma. These all help the patient get better, which is what is most important.
Lack of social acceptance in the public and medical community is a challenge that the research will not be able to overcome.
Jun 10, 2011
Mosquito bites are annoying, no doubt about it.
When travelling to a hot humid place, such as the jungles in Peru, Southern China, or even right here with my New York City acupuncture patients, mosquito bite itching can be troubling.
Herbs can he very helpful for reducing itching. One of the best and easiest herbal formulas to use for itching is called Yin Care.
Yin Care is a topical wash used for itching and inflammation of the skin. The herbs such as she chuang zi and di fu zi work to calm itch while sheng di huang and jin yin hua reduce inflammation.
Use about a dime size amount and rub on effected area.
Jun 2, 2011
Anything with the word “revenge” can’t be good. Commonly called Montezuma’s revenge, traveler’s diarrhea is a common illness for adventurers.
Traveler’s diarrhea was a concern of mine when we were trekking in Peru. I’ve always known that I had a sensitive stomach when traveling, and I remember getting sick when in other countries. I wanted to try to avoid it on this trip.
I was still in graduate school during my Peru trip, and I did not have that much experience with treating traveler’s diarrhea. I asked my favorite teacher, Dr. Kejian Xiao, who is a master herbalist about what to take for traveler’s diarrhea.
Herbs for Traveler’s Diarrhea
First, need to observe the intensity and symptoms.
If you have mild upset stomach, mild to moderate diarrhea, possible slight nausea, slight chills, no pain or burning, then you need to use a formula that will warm the stomach. This formula is Huo Xiang Zheng Qi tang.
This formula is aromatic and it helps to warm the stomach and the digestion. Many of these herbs are helpful for killing bacteria in food such as zi su ye, perilla leaf, and ginger. Perilla leaf and ginger are both commonly eaten with sushi. Not only do they add to the taste, but also help to mitigate any possibility of bacteria in the foods.
Huo xiang zheng qi tang is a very safe formula. But in some people it can slow down the digestion.
For more severe symptoms and burning, the huang lian su may be a better choice.
Huang lian su is simply the the herbs huang lian, or copitus. This herb is very strong anti biotic properties as well as immunological regulatory properties. It is very bitter and cold and can easily cause constipation.
Regulating your stomach after getting sick is also important.
The best formula for this is called Curing Pills. Curing pills are a great remedy for digestive issues. They are mild and help to regulate digestion, ease bloating, and constipation to help your stomach recover.