Tuesday, March 3, 2015

New Event: Health Seminar at Whole Foods Market Boca Raton

Next month, I will be holding a free lecture about how green juice and acupuncture can reduce inflammation to prevent cancer, allergies and autoimmune diseases at the Whole Foods Market in Boca Raton, FL. In this lecture, I will use recent scientific research to explain how green juice (blended vegetables comprised predominantly of leafy greens) can help the body balance its immune function and produce more anti-inflammatory chemicals such as cortisol, progesterone and other relaxing hormones. I will also use clinical cases to demonstrate how a powerful combination of green juice and acupuncture can help people fight infertility, menopause and arthritis and aid cancer survivors in preventing neuropathy, anxiety, depression and insomnia. At the end of the talk, I will also be sharing a few of my favorite green juice recipes!

Date: April 19, 2015
Time: 11 am - 12:30 pm
Address: 1400 Glades Rd, Boca Raton, FL 33431 (Boca Raton Whole Foods Market)

Weekly green juice excursion to Whole Foods

I admit that I was originally a green-juice skeptic before my patients convinced me to buy a Vitamix and give juicing a go. The hassle to make a frankly unappetizing, goopy mixture the texture of baby food seemed hardly worth the effort. But after making and drinking green juice for the past few months, I can say that I have been converted. The juices, which are predominantly kale-based, are pretty delicious once I looked past its coloring.  I also started experimenting by adding different fruits and honey into the mix, giving the blend a pleasantly sweet flavor and making it much more palatable.  Making green juice has become a fun kitchen experiment rather than a chore!

Most importantly, I understand now what the hype about green juice is all about. Between the extra fiber, vitamins and minerals, a cup of green juice a day leaves my digestive system running smoothly and my body feeling youthful.  I was also impressed by how full and satisfied I felt after drinking green juice. One problem I've had ever since I was little was feeling hungry between meals. I would snack frequently - a little bit of chocolate here, a handful of nuts there. But as I've gotten older and my metabolism has slowed down, I now need to be much more careful about snacking. Green juice has really helped me on this front because after drinking it, I do not need to eat as much. It's a great relief not to have my stomach clamoring for attention all the time!

Find out more about this event at Facebook and Eventbrite. RSVP today and I hope to see you there!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Using Acupuncture to Increase Blood Oxygen Level

A patient I will call Cindy grew up in Boston and came to my clinic for acupuncture treatments due to breathing difficulties and low blood oxygen levels. She had been an incredibly active and restless lady throughout her life, unable to sit still and constantly moving around energetically. As a teacher in Boston, she loves to use her knowledge and encourage kids to become passionate and creative people. She also takes good care of her family. 

A couple of weeks ago, she had a very stressful work week. Afterwards, she suddenly developed chest tightness and breathing difficulties, so she went to the emergency room and got her heart and lungs checked. Her organs showed no abnormalities, but her blood oxygen level readings (which were measured through her fingers) constantly fluctuated between 67 and 98%, with the right and left fingers showing different readings. She went to see a cardiologist and a pulmonary specialist and was told her lungs and heart have no problems. However, when her oxygen level dropped below 87%, she started having anxiety and chest tightness. 

One day, while sitting in a conference in Needham, she became almost intolerably uncomfortable by the end of the day because her oxygen level had dropped to 76%. During weekends, she does not work and consistently sleeps well, but the blood oxygen level readings of her right side would still be much lower than those of her left side, which typically hovered around 98% percent. She could not understand why the two sides were so different.

A friend recommended her to see me in order to figure out the reason behind her blood oxygen level fluctuation and the difference between her left and right sides. I analyzed her symptoms as well as her medical history. She told me that she was born with weak rotator cuff muscles, which I think may have caused her neck muscles to be extremely tight.  At the time she came to see me, she was 50 years old. Even though she still had normal periods, her ovarian and adrenal gland function had been steadily declining, leading to decreased production of “relaxing” hormones, such as GABA, serotonin and progesterone, and infrequent panic attacks during which she would feel overwhelmed by her responsibilities. The parts of her body that allow her to cope with stress, such as the hypothalamus and pituitary and adrenal glands, have nowhere near the functionality that they had when she was 20. Her estrogen levels were decreasing, but her progesterone levels, estrogen’s counterpart, were declining at a faster rate. Her unbalanced estrogen levels made her nervous system more sensitive to stress, and her overall declining hormone levels caused her shoulder and neck muscles to weaken. If she experienced the same amount of stress she used to experience when she was twenty now, her body would suffer long-term, irreparable damage. Acupuncture can help strengthen her adrenal and ovarian gland function, so she can produce more “relaxing” hormones to cope with stress more efficiently.

Before her first treatment, I asked her to measure her blood oxygen level: the reading fluctuated between 70 and 90%. When I conducted acupressure research with a nurse practitioner at the Medical College of Ohio, I learned that when babies sleep on their stomach, their blood oxygen levels typically increase and they are more relaxed. With that in mind, I ask Cindy to lie on her stomach: her blood oxygen levels started to rise instantly. Afterwards, I put in a few needles to relax her neck and upper shoulder muscles. During this treatment, her blood oxygen levels remained between 98 and 99% for the whole 50 minutes. Next, I applied electrical stimulation on her neck and shoulder muscles for ten minutes. After the treatment, her blood oxygen levels continued to stay at around 98%.  

I believe that her low blood oxygen levels were related to her tight neck and shoulder muscles. However, it seemed peculiar to me that more people do not suffer from her condition. The fact that the rotator cuff muscles on her right side were born weaker than the muscles on her left side could explain why her blood oxygen levels were constantly different on the two sides of her body. In addition, her hyperactive nervous system probably exacerbated the situation. When you are stressed out or have been sitting for too long, your neck and upper shoulder muscles become very tight, which may trigger nerve reflexes, causing your breathing to become shallow and less efficient.  As a result, your blood oxygen levels start dropping, especially in the absence of fresh air, and you become increasingly anxious. This is the reason why many people who work in confined spaces have to go out frequently for fresh air to maintain their productivity.

When a person is in a confined space with many people, lower oxygen levels in the air can cause his/her blood oxygen levels to drop and can trigger anxiety and panic attacks. In contrast, taking a walk on the beach or in the woods, where oxygen levels are high, can alleviate stress and cause one to feel relaxed and happy. If you have no time to go to the beach, simply open the window or stand outside and take deep breaths.

Recent research indicates that meditation combined with a certain type of relaxed thinking and deep breathing can actually change your gene expression. For instance, if you were born with a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system, meditating can create a balance between your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. In this way, when you have to cope with stress, you can stay calm and breathe deeply so your heart rate will not go up too high and your breathing will not become too shallow. When you are in a more relaxed state, your digestive system becomes more efficient, your heart rate slows down and your immune function is more balanced, so you can avoid many kinds of ailments, such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases and different kinds of inflammation. This is the reason why people who sleep well and stay relaxed most of the time tend to live longer and healthier lives. Genetic factors can only contribute so much to our longevity: we can change our gene expression by turning off bad genes and turning on good genes. Balance is the key for a healthier and happier life.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Acupuncture, Dopamine, and Addiction

Dopamine is a chemical messenger responsible for transmitting signals between nerve cells. It is very prominent in the transmission from the nerve cells of the substantia nigra to those of the corpus striatum, to facilitate smooth, purposeful muscle activity. Dopamine is the immediate metabolic precursor of norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline) and epinephrine (also called adrenaline), i.e., it is the raw material from which the other two chemicals are made. Dopamine can have either an excitatory or inhibitory effect on nerve cells, depending on the characteristics of the protein it combines with.
Dopamine is associated with the perception of pain and pleasure. Increased dopamine in the frontal lobes lessens pain and increases pleasure. If a person naturally has a higher level of dopamine because of a good personality, good genes and a diet, he or she tends to tolerate pain better. That is why even when different people have the same kind of arthritis or back problems, some people have unbearable pain while others have no pain at all. On the TV show House, the foster parents of a girl were suspected of abusing her. Although her body showed many signs of physical abuse, she did not complain about the pain to the physician. One of the residents used a bucket of ice to test her tolerance to coldness. Although the resident started screaming due to the extreme pain induced by the cold ice when he took the test, the little girl stayed very calm. Later, her physicians found out that she had a gene that made her pain threshold above average. She may have had increased amounts of dopamine in her frontal lobes, making her more tolerant to physical pain.
Dopamine is greatly involved in feelings of reward, alertness and purposeful behavior. Dopamine is commonly associated with the 'pleasure system' of the brain, providing feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement to motivate us to do, or continue doing certain activities. Dopamine is released by naturally rewarding experiences such as food, sex, the uses of certain drugs and stimuli that become associated with them. In milder disorders, too much dopamine in the limbic system (a network of brain structures) is associated with emotion and memory problems, and not enough in the cerebral cortex may produce an overly suspicious personality prone to bouts of paranoia that may inhibit social interaction.
Alcohol can increase dopamine levels in brain regions collectively called the mesolimbic system by curtailing the enzyme activity that breaks down dopamine. When alcoholics suddenly stop drinking alcohol, their dopamine levels plunge, causing dysphoria, an unpleasant feeling, and anhedonia, the inability to experience the pleasure from normally pleasurable events, such as eating, exercise and social interactions.
The sudden drop of dopamine might contribute to the intense ethanol craving experienced by addicts, explained by Weiss et al. in the Journal of Neuroscience 1996. These ethanol-induced changes in dopamine levels provide positive reinforcement that contributes to continued alcohol abuse. People that have stronger releases of dopamine when they drink alcohol or coffee tend to be addicted to alcohol, especially people who are very smart and do not enjoy social networks. Other people do not have enough enzyme to process alcohol, so they feel stomach pain, nausea, dizzy. A certain group of people will never be able to enjoy alcohol.
Acupuncture at the specific point Ht7 (at the ulnar end of the transverse crease of the wrist, in the depression on the radial side of the tendon of medial flexor carpi ulnaris), but not at control points PC6 (2 inches above transverse crease of wrist, between tendons of medial palmaris longus and medial flexor radialis) or tail, prevented both a decrease of dopamine levels in a specific brain region called the nucleus accumbens during ethanol withdrawal and an increase of dopamine levels induced by an ethanol challenge. Stimulation of Ht7 facilitates normalization of dopamine levels in the brain following chronic ethanol exposure. If people are trying to quit drinking, acupuncture 2 to 3 times a week can help their body stabilize their dopamine level so they do not get depressed or agitated.
Nicotine induces tolerance and addiction by acting on the central dopaminergic pathways (those using dopamine as a neurotransmitter), thus leading to pleasure and reward sensations. It stimulates the central nervous system, enhances alertness and reduces appetite. Many women are reluctant to quit smoking because they are afraid to gain weight. A 50% reduction of nicotine consumption may trigger withdrawal symptoms in addicted individuals including anxiety, anger, sleep disorders, hunger, cognitive dysfunction and cigarette cravings. Certain drugs that inhibit the reuptake of dopamine are used for quitting smoking. However, those drugs can be dangerous to people who have epilepsy, eating disorders, uncontrolled hypertension, recent alcohol abstinence, or are undergoing current therapy with mono-amine oxidase inhibitors (drugs increase norepinephrine and epinephrine levels).
If you have smoked for more than ten years, certain enzyme activities have changed. When you suddenly quit smoking, reduced dopamine levels will make you feel miserable. Ear and body acupuncture can help your body rebalance the brain chemicals, producing more feel-good hormones, such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphin, and reducing stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Acupuncture stimulates your own body to rebalance those complicated hormones instead of just inhibiting or stimulating the metabolism of specific hormones. It is hard to use just one chemical change to explain the response of the entire body.
One lady had smoked a pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years before she started acupuncture treatments. After her best friend died of lung cancer at the age of 50, she finally decided to quit. She had acupuncture twice a week for 6 weeks. Surprisingly, she did not have any withdrawal symptoms or even gain any weight. Another lady had a couple of ear needles for 3 months; she never went back to smoking. Her daughter said that she was extremely surprised because her mother had been a heavy smoker for more than 20 years. However, not everybody has successful stories. Two major factors affecting success are the extent of a person's determination to quit and the busyness of the person's schedule during the quitting process.
Morphine can also induce dopamine release, causing addiction. Acupuncture can suppress Morphine Withdrawal Syndrome. In 2005, Dr. Kim and his colleagues in South Korea reported results of a study on how acupuncture can change dopamine levels and influence behavior in rats sensitized to morphine. They posted their results in the magazine Neuroscience Letter. Acupuncture at the specific acupuncture point HT7, but not at control points (TW8 and tail), significantly decreased both dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens and behavioral hyperactivity induced by a systemic morphine challenge. These results suggest that the therapeutic effect of acupuncture on morphine addiction occurs through normalization of dopamine and reduction of behavioral sensitization by morphine.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Postpartum Doulas of the East: Sitting the Month

The Chinese tradition of “sitting the month” is a combination of medical, behavioral and dietetic practices designed to maximize recovery from the adverse effects of childbirth and pregnancy in postpartum women during the first month after childbirth. According to Chinese Medical theory, two main issues afflict all postpartum women: qi/blood deficiency and blood stagnation in the area of the uterus. These two deficiencies, if not properly attended to, can give rise to any number of illnesses – sometimes illnesses manifest instantly, others begin in the post-partum period but do not surface until later. Common afflictions include anemia, insufficient breast milk, lightheadedness, constipation or oliguria, a bloated sensation, and immune system deficiency. If the symptoms are left untended, more serious illness, such as hypothyroidism, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and debilitating menopause may result. “Sitting the month” uses a combination of personally tailored Chinese herbal formulas, food therapy and lifestyle changes to alleviate the above symptoms and ensure that more serious illness does not result from the temporary weakness which all women experience in the early postpartum stages.

Due to some of the more anachronistic practices associated with “sitting the month,” – a moratorium on showering, air conditioning and going outside in the wind, a diet of relatively bland foods, etc. – the tradition had all but vanished, but new “sitting centers,” which cater to the needs of modern women, have helped foster an unprecedented resurgence in popularity all while retaining the core theoretical principles on which the practice was founded. Today in Taiwan, the top sitting centers have waitlists backed up for years – perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that treatments not only restore health and vitality, they also help women to recover their pre-childbirth physique using herbal therapy and acupuncture.

Now, as interest in “sitting the month” continues to grow, new research has put the old tradition to the test of modern “evidence-based” standards with highly positive results. A new retrospective cohort study conducted by the China Medical University of Taiwan found that a standard “sitting the month” regimen - including herbal medicine, dietary restriction and lifestyle change- significantly raised erythrocyte levels, increased breast milk, decreased lochia elimination time and decreased likelihood of depression in a group of post-partum women compared with a group of post-partum women who had not sat the month. [1]

In recent times, commentators have compared sitting the month to the increasingly popular western practice of hiring a “postpartum doula.” In fact, the two practices do hold a lot in common, but with some key differences. Both practices honor the importance of the mother’s health postpartum and work to recover and maintain health during this crucial period. Both practices also decrease the demands and stress on the mother directly following birth by providing cooking and cleaning services throughout the first month. Sitting the month is distinguished from having a postpartum doula insofar as it incorporates a system of medical knowledge into the recovery and care process. According to Chinese medical gynecology, the body is in a weak and deficient state following birth: sitting the month is designed to not only assuage the daily stresses associated with new-motherhood, but to treat the specific imbalances that afflict all postpartum women. In this regard, sitting the month is actually a more holistic, multi-faceted approach to postpartum care.

For more information on sitting the month, please see the Time article below.

(Traditional Mandarin Chinese)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sanfujiu: A Traditional, Non-Invasive Treatment for Allergic Rhinitis, Asthma and Chronic Respiratory Illness.

    In recent years, Taiwan has seen a resurgence in the use of a traditional treatment called “Sanfujiu” (三伏灸) for patients with a wide variety of respiratory problems. The treatment is simple – herbal patches are placed on specified acupoints on the back and left for one day three times throughout the summer – but the results, both anecdotally and scientifically, have attracted increasing attention from patients and practitioners in Taiwan and abroad.

    According to Chinese Medical theory, allergies, asthma and chronic bronchitis are often caused by deficiencies in the yang qi of the lung. Sanfujiu uses herbal patches that supplement yang qi on points corresponding to the lung. Additionally, practitioners traditionally choose to treat on three days in the summer when “environmental yang qi” and the body’s yang qi are both thought to be at their highest. The rationale is that a treatment for supplementing yang qi will be most effective when environmental yang qi and bodily yang qi are at their respective peaks. [i]

    Until recently, the efficacy of Sanfujiu had only been corroborated on an anecdotal level, but a growing body[ii] of scientific evidence now confirms that Sanfujiu can be effective in treating allergic rhinitis, asthma and chronic bronchitis. In particular, a research study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health and a team of Taiwanese collaborators found that:

 The acupoint herbal patch (sanfujiu) is a valuable treatment for allergic rhinitis, especially in the symptoms of sneezing, running and itchy nose. The results of the SF-36 indicate a distinct improvement in GH (general health) and VT (vitality) in patients treated with acupoint herbal patches. This study supports the belief that the acupoint herbal patch is an effective treatment for allergic rhinitis and can significantly improve general health, social life and vitality in quality of life.[iii]

    Additionally, informal studies carried out within the China Medical University of Taiwan report 80% efficacy in patients with asthma and seasonal allergies who have received 3 consecutive years of treatment. Such efficacy rates help explain why Sanfujiu has achieved such wide-ranging popularity in Taiwan and receives increasing attention abroad.

A video showing a Sanfujiu treatment (in Chinese): http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=tzaHuFmEjTc#t=64s

By: William Ceurvels

·                                 [i] Chen-Jei Tai, Chia-Pei Chang, et al. (2007) Efficacy of Sanfujiu to Treat Allergies: Patient Outcomes at 1 Year after Treatment. Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine. 2007 June; 4(2): 241–246. PMC1876606
[ii]  See reference section of above article for a long list of related studies.    
            [iii] Wei-Hung Hsu, et al. (2010) Chinese Medicine Acupoint Herbal Patching for Allergic Rhinitis: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. No.4 661-673. DOI: 10.1142/S0192415X10008135.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Excessive Sweating

Did you ever have the experience that you are in a fight-or-flight condition; your heart and breathing rates go up, your pupils dilate and your hands are sweating to cope with the emergency situation due to the adrenaline release? After the emergency is over, you end up with cold hands and feet and you are very tired. If this condition becomes worse, you could constantly have sweaty palms whenever you are multitasking, rushing around or nervous about something, and you may get diagnosed as excessive sweating.
We know that excessive sweating is caused by overactive sweat glands. The sweat gland is controlled by branches of sympathetic nerves in the chest area, which are controlled by the hypothalamus, a part of the brain controlling appetite, body temperature, thirst, fatigue, anger and circadian cycles. People suffering from this condition can sweat spontaneously, even at room temperature, and excessively in a slightly warm environment. The most common parts of the body that sweat are the palms, feet, armpits, chest, abdominal area and face. Unfortunately, those who sweat excessively tend to have a special body odor, so that they smell bad- another thing to be self-conscious about. 
If you have this problem, you can most likely blame your parents, because genetic make-up plays a big part. People with very sensitive sympathetic nervous systems tend to have hyperhidrosis. Excessive sweating and very sensitive nervous systems tend to run in the family. Thus, you may have inherited your problems from your mom, but you do not have to accept them. You can return that bad hand you have been dealt and get a much better one, so do not worry. If you are willing to change your life style a little bit, you might be able to change the gene expression.
However, you must do some work yourself. There are lifestyle choices you can make that will lessen this problem or possibly make it go away completely. You can make decisions that will change things. Start by drinking less alcohol, which can intensify the symptoms. Alcohol can produce a lot of heat inside your body and get your nervous system going. In order to maintain a normal body temperature, you have to expel extra heat through sweat and urination. That is why people tend to drink more alcohol in cold weather.. Alcoholics tend to have clammy hands and feet. There are cases where people never had this problem growing up, only to have it appear later in life, usually triggered by drinking too much alcohol. So, please drink less for your own health, dignity and peace of mind. You do not have to stop completely, just reduce, reduce, and reduce until your problem goes away. 
Other things that stimulate your nervous system that you can reduce:
1. Caffeine stimulates your sympathetic nerves, so your body becomes even more sensitive to temperature changes and stress.
2. Warm drinks and food can make you sweat more.
3. Low and high blood sugar levels can induce adrenaline release to intensify sweating.
4. Stress can induce cortisol and adrenaline release to stimulate the nervous system.
5. Multitasking: when you do three things at the same time, your body has to release more adrenaline, which stimulates the nervous system.
6. Imbalanced progesterone and estrogen levels also sensitize your nervous system, so that your body may react very strongly to small temperature changes. That is why menopausal women sweat easily, then quickly feel chilled afterwards. Men who use testosterone cream for a long time tend to sweat a lot with a special body odor.
7. Obesity: Obese people have higher levels of cortisol and estrogen. They can tolerate stress better than skinny people, but they have less tolerance for heat. When obese women go through menopause, they have more hot flashes than average-weight women.
8. Spicy foods also produce internal heat. People can tolerate spicy foods in a very damp and cold climate, but if they leave for warmer places, they have to change their eating habits accordingly.
Acupuncture, meditation, yoga and Qi Gong will help balance your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The majority of acupuncture points can be used to calm down the sympathetic nerves and strengthen the parasympathetic nerves. If your sympathetic nerves are in a more stable condition, your body will not respond to temperature changes as strongly. Food and herbs, such as bitter melon and dandelion, which have a bitter taste tend to help clear the body heat and reduce the sweating and inflammation. Sour-tasting food can help your body generate more body fluids, so that the Yin ( the essence of the body) and Yang (the energy part of the body) can be balanced. In order to achieve a happier and healthier life, the Yin and Yang have to be balanced, so that your body will sweat properly.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Hypothalamus, Menopause, Weight Gain and Acupuncture

How important a health problem is excessive weight gain in America? It is so important that First Lady Michelle Obama has made it her number one goal to end childhood obesity in one generation. One third of all American children and adolescents are obese. One third of all American adults are also obese, weighing 25% more than their ideal weight, while two thirds are overweight. It is clear that excessive weight gain has become America’s new epidemic.
A behavior similar to taking drugs, smoking tobacco, or drinking alcohol, excessive eating is an addictive behavior that shortens life spans and is difficult to stop by force of will. Obesity increases a person's risk of developing several serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, thyroid disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and diabetes. Every extra pound over your ideal weight may take time from your life.
Why do people tend to overeat even if they know all about the harmful effects of being overweight?
The hypothalamus contains several groups of nerve cells, which have the ability to impact emotions, regulate body temperature, and control thirst, along with the feeling of fullness and salt cravings. Body weight is controlled by the hypothalamus through modifying metabolism. The activities of the hypothalamus are influenced by stress, light, steroids, insulin, pleasant food smells, and invading microorganisms. This explains why we tend to overeat when we are stressed out because the hypothalamus produces more hormones to stimulate the pituitary to produce more cortisol-releasing hormones. The sharp increase in cortisol stimulates the appetite, especially for junk food. Further when daylight time becomes shortened in the winter and when we smell something good, the hypothalamus changes its activity, so our appetite also changes.
When menopause comes, the imbalance of estrogen, progesterone, GABA, serotonin and dopamine profoundly influences the neuronal activity of the hypothalamus, which can cause women to be more emotional, to crave sweets and salty food, and to have insomnia, hot flushes and night sweats. Many women tell me that they cannot stop eating even though they know they are not supposed to eat too much of a certain kind of food. In this scenario, if they eat the wrong kind of food such as cookies or ice cream, or drink too much coffee, their stomachs will not receive a signal for fullness. They can keep eating until they damage the majority of their nerves and blood vessels. We have trillions of neurons and blood vessels; if we destroy 60% of them, our body can still compensate. Once the majority of the nerves and blood vessels are damaged, it is too late to change. When we consume sugary foods , our reward center lights up, our body releases dopamine and we feel happier for a moment. The problem is that our body's function is not improved by eating junk food. We have to continue eating those rewarding foods to maintain our happiness. If we instead exercise, take herbs or have acupuncture treatments to produce more dopamine, we can reap the benefits but not pay the cost. On the other hand, if we just put a piece of chocolate into our mouth, we will do damage to our nerves and blood vessels. Simple sugar is even worse than alcohol or tobacco because you can eat sugar any time in any amount without getting drunk or being punished. On the other hand you can only drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes at certain times and places. On the positive side, when people eat sugary foods, they become friendlier and more sociable during that moment. Most men eat one piece of chocolate, then stop, while women have to eat ten pieces, because women's estrogen levels fluctuate each month from 10 to 100 while men do not have these big hormone changes unless they are alcoholics or drug addicts. Furthermore, women have a very sensitive rewarding center, and they can have sudden increased levels of dopamine, while men receive a much less extreme response from eating rewarding food.
How we can control our appetite by optimizing the activity of hypothalamus?
Q. Wei et al.’s research on obese rats found that tryptophan and serotonin levels were decreased in certain areas of the brains in the obese group as compared to the control. Acupuncture could produce weight reduction by optimizing the serotonin (5-HT) level. Serotonin not only makes people relax and feel good, but also enhances intestinal motility to help discharge toxic materials that could produce food stagnation and internal heat. Internal heat, from a Chinese medical perspective, leads to increased appetite and more craving for food. In Western medicine, if food cannot be properly absorbed and converted into blood sugar to provide energy, it will be stored instead as fat in the body. Then, the person feels hungry all the time and must eat constantly to maintain his or her blood sugar level. It can quickly become a vicious cycle.
Acupuncture, herbs, meditation, Tai Ji, Qi Gong and other relaxing treatments help redirect energy and blood flow to the hypothalamus, pituitary, ovaries and adrenal gland, so the above glands can produce balanced hormones. On the other hand, acupuncture can reduce stress instantly. By reducing stress, acupuncture improves your entire body function. The balance of all the relaxing and stimulating hormones is the key factor for keeping healthy weight and eating habits. When you have balanced hormones, you do not crave sweets or other junk foods.