Sunday, November 18, 2012

Breast Cancer and Soy Product

When I treat breast cancer patients, they often ask the question: should I avoid soy products? In the past, oncologists would warn that breast cancer patients should not consume soy products, especially women with apositive estrogen receptors. I have read many articles about how Asian women are less prone to develop breast cancer than Caucasian women, especially Japanese women who eat a lot of Tofu and Tempei. Soy products do contain phytoestrogen, but it is very weak and belongs to the good estrogen category called estriol, which prevents breast cancer according to a study done by Dr. Henry Lemon. When your body has a very low level of estrogen, the phytoestrogen can combine with the estrogen receptor and serve as estriol. When your body has a lot of bad estrogen, such as estradiol or estrone, which can stimulate breast tissue growth, phytoestrogen can occupy part of the receptors to block the stimulating effect. The following research shows evidences that phytoestrogen can help cancer patients instead of harming them.

In Am J Clin Nutr. 2012, Nechuta SJ, et al, included 9514 breast cancer survivors with a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer between 1991 and 2006 from 2 US and 1 Chinese cohort. Soy isoflavone intake (mg/d) was measured with validated food-frequency questionnaires. The research found that consumption of more than 10 mg isoflavones per day was associated with a nonsignificant reduced risk of breast cancer-specific mortality and a statistically significant reduced risk of recurrence of breast cancer. Zaineddin AK of Germen Cancer Research Center conducted a population-based case-control study in German postmenopausal women to evaluate the association of phytoestrogen-rich foods and dietary lignans with breast cancer risk. Dietary data were collected from 2,884 cases of breast cancer and 5,509 controls using a validated food-frequency questionnaire. This research indicated that high and low consumption of soybeans as well as of sunflower and pumpkin seeds were associated with significantly reduced breast cancer risk compared to no consumption. The observed associations were not differential by estrogen receptor status. No statistically significant associations were found for dietary intake of plant lignans and fibers. These results provide strong evidence for a reduced postmenopausal breast cancer risk associated with increased consumption of sunflower, pumpkin seeds and soybeans.

Li Zheng is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, a graduate of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine with 24 years of clinical and research experiences, including 6 years of residency, a Ph.D. degree holder in medical sciences from the US, a Harvard Medical School trained researcher and a professor at the New England School of Acupuncture. Her website is and her clinic is located at 475 hillside avenue, Needham, MA02494.

Monday, October 8, 2012


I have been observing many healthy and happy people who live up to 90 years old and still are able to enjoy their life. I found that they all have the following common characteristics: 1. They are very disciplined and have a routine every day. 2. They go to bed earlier and get up earlier. 3. They have a very positive attitude and hardly complain. 4. They are very social and tend to accept other people's ideas if they think it will benefit them. 5. Most of them are in a religion. 6. They do not always have good genes to protect them. 7. When they are young, they took care of their sick parents and learn that if they do not take care of themselves, nobody else can take care of them. 8. They eat homemade food most of the time and never overeat.

Linda Yamamoto is a 88-year old American lady, who has had acupuncture with me for the past 6 years. She does have good genes from her mother, who lived up to 98 years old without any health insurance. But this good gene does not protect her from being sick. She developed a hypothyroid condition when she turned to 40 years old after she delivered her third child. She started taking the synthroid since then. She stayed at home until her youngest child went to high school, then she started working for the government as an accountant. After few years of thyroid medication, she developed atrial fibrilization. She then started taking β-blocker and other two medications for her heart condition. Her heartbeats slowed down with medications, but never become regular. She has been a very social and happy lady. She donated her money to a foundation to help the poor Asian students to study in the college. She does not travel a lot, but does join all kinds of social activities in Boston area. Her husband drives her around. She gets upset when her husband forgot to pick her up, but never complain non-stop. The HRT treatment brought dreams for many post menopause women, thinking they can regain their youth by this magic pill. Linda tried at the age of 68 years old. After one year of taking this magic pill, she started having period at the age of 69 years old. She logically thought this is not natural and quit the hormone pill right away. But her mother's good gene did not protect her in the modern society, she developed breast cancer after taking hormone supplement for a year at the age of 70. She had surgery, radiation therapy, but no Tamaxofen to block all her estrogen receptors, thus she did not lose her muscle and strength. At the age of 80 years old, she decided to quit working for the government because she realized that the stress was too much for her. She spent more time to take care of her health and the social event. Linda has a very unique personality; she always sleeps 8 hours no matter when she goes to bed. But I found out if she goes to bed after 12pm, her irregular heart beat get worse and her digestion was not good. For a period of time, she joined many social events very late and had dinner after 7pm. Every Saturday when I feels her pulse, her heart beats became more irregular even she was taking 3 medications for her condition. I recommend her stop her one cup of coffee every day, have dinner before 7pm and go to bed before 12pm. She gradually changed her habit. The heart condition and digestion have been improving for the past couple of years. Then she went to her cardiologist for routine checkup and stopped all her heart medications at the age of 87, the next week she came for acupuncture facial rejuvenation, her heart beats were slow and regular without any heart medication. As her heart condition is improved, she started personal training in gym to tone her muscle at the age of 86. Initially, she lifted weight 3 times a week, she developed knee and hip pain. Because she eats healthy, she does not have any systematic inflammation, her muscle pain was healed with only one to two acupuncture treatment. Combing acupuncture and her exercises, her joint pain and Raynaud's syndrome do not bother her anymore. Her face looks like 50 years old, she still has sharp memory and never forget to pay her bill on time. She is till cooking and cleaning in her own house. On the other hand, her two brothers, who had much more freedom and played golf for hours every day, suddenly developed liver and blood cancer at the age of 84 and 85 years old last year, they refused to accept any treatment and died peacefully 3 months later. I guess their routine exercises made them strong and happy, but playing golf for hours every day might make them dehydrated chronically. Gradually the dehydration led to some kind of inflammation and mutated their genes even though their mother gave them some of her good genes. In conclusion, moderation is the key for the happy and healthy life. Even if you do not have so much money or travel all over the world, you still can be healthy and happy.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Acupuncture and Cancer

Cancer is becoming more and more common in the modern society, one out of five American women develop breast cancer between their forties and fifties. Many factors contribute to this detrimental disease, such as high stress levels, environmental contamination and junk food. Chemo and radiation therapy can effectively kill the cancer cells, but can also damage normal tissues at the same time. I have always wondered why some patients survive longer over time with a better quality of life than others even when they have the same degree of the same diseases. As I think about the patients I have treated over my 20 years of clinical experience, three factors seem to contribute to the extended survival rate of some: 1. how relaxed and happy they are generally, 2. how well they digest and absorb food and 3. how well they sleep. All the three factors contribute to the function of their immune system and the ability of their body to repair the damaged tissue caused by chemo therapy and normal wear and tear.

NK cells are essential effector cells of the innate immune system that spontaneously kill transformed and infected cells, and therefore represent the first line of the host immune defense against cancer and pathogens. Michael Francis Johnson of California reviewed the study done by Arranz and colleagues in Spain. This study indicated that high levels of anxiety can lower the natural killer cell activity 3-fold, compared with healthy controls. This explains why many people, who cannot relax periodically and always rush from one project to another project, tend to develop cancer. In the same study, when a group of points such as ST36, SI3, HT3, HT5, LI11, PC6, LI4, TW5, CV3, CV4, CV6, CV15, GB34, GB43, SP6, LV2, UB60, KD6, GV20 were stimulated twice a week for 10 treatments, anxious women showed a complete restoration of their natural killer cell activity. In animal studies, experiments show that acupuncture on ST36 can increase NK cell tumoricidal activity and the secretion of interleukin-2 and interferon- . Furthermore, acupuncture can increase the expression of the NK cell receptor CD94 and protein tyrosine phosphatase.

During chemotherapy, patients are often given a steroid drug to suppress their immune function. By combing acupuncture treatment with this, patients can have less infection and relax more. More importantly, acupuncture on ST36 can strengthen the digestive function. Also after the tumor is destroyed by drugs, the body can quickly repair normal cell function by absorbing nutrients more efficiently. Research also shows that acupuncture can help people produce more growth hormones by sleeping better and supplying energy to pituitary and hypothalamus gland. Acupuncture not only enhances immune function, but also balances it during a time when it is abnormally hyperactive.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How acupuncture treats insomnia

Hormones and the autonomic nervous system have to be balanced in order to initiate and maintain sleep. Many studies have shown that acupuncture treatments can help maintain the balance of biological chemicals in the central nervous system and promote the recovery of homeostasis.

1. Acupuncture can help your body produce more melatonin:
In an article published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, Spence et al. explored the relationship between melatonin and acupuncture treatments. They observed a significant increase in endogenous melatonin secretion in all of the 18 patients suffering from severe insomnia who were given acupuncture treatments twice a week for 5 weeks. Records of electrical and muscular states during the entire sleeping time indicated that, after acupuncture treatments, the patients took less time to fall asleep, had fewer occasions of waking up during sleep, and experienced increased total sleep time and deep sleep time. Anxiety, depression, and fatigue were also decreased. Interestingly, alertness in the morning was reduced as well.
2. Acupuncture can improve blood flow to improve sleep quality
Hecht and his colleagues studied the relationship between the blood flow to the brain and insomnia. They noted that an insufficient blood flow to the brain could lead to low sugar levels and spontaneous waking from sleep. Dr. Omura explored the effects of blood flow to the brain on the dysfunctions of various organs. When blood pressure in the head was very low (less than 30 mmHg on both sides), a majority of the subjects experienced sleep disturbances: mainly insomnia but sometimes excessive sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness of recent events, and various degrees of irritability. Even with normal or higher arm blood pressure, one can still have low blood pressure in one’s head. It has been reported that electroacupuncture stimulation of the points ST36 and GB20 (just inferior to occipital bone, between the trapezius and sternocleidomastoid attachments) can treat insomnia by increasing the blood flow to the brain.

3. Acupuncture can decrease effects of aging :
The weakening of parasympathetic function results in the familiar signs of aging, including increased and irregular heartbeats, constipation, insomnia, erectile dysfunction, fluid retention, and systemic inflammation. These consequences may in turn contribute to many of the common diseases associated with aging, including Type-II diabetes, Alzheimer's, arteriosclerosis, and cancer. The maintenance and restoration of parasympathetic function may boost the functions of the internal organs and slow the aging process. Acupuncture generally enhances the parasympathetic nervous system.

4. Acupuncture can reduce pain:
Meltzer at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia studied the effects of chronic pain on the sleep patterns of adolescents. He found no difference between the pain group and the healthy control group in total sleep time and bedtime. However, the group with chronic pain reported significantly longer sleep onset latency, more frequent night waking, later wake times in the morning, and more symptoms of daytime sleepiness. Acupuncture has a very good analgesic effect and can thereby help people with pain improve their sleep quality.

5. Acupuncture can reduce stress hormones to treat insomnia

When we are under chronic stress, such as over-thinking and overworking, our body produces more cortisol to keep us alert during the daytime. When we are under acute stress, such as a fight-or-flight condition, our body produces more epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine. These two stress hormones deeply affect our sleep quality. Vgontzas and colleagues at the Pennsylvania State University assessed the association of chronic insomnia with the activity of the stress system. They measured the levels of free cortisol, norepinephrine, and growth hormone in the urine of the participants and found that free cortisol levels correlated positively with total wake time; norepinephrine levels correlated positively with the duration of stage 1 sleep but negatively with the duration of stage 3 and 4 (deep) sleep. Both branches of the stress system (the adrenal gland and the sympathetic nervous system) are accountable for the sleep disturbances in chronic insomnia. When we are stressed, our sleep is much lighter, so we wake up more frequently. Acupuncture can lower stress hormone levels, thereby reducing wake time and increasing deep sleep time. It is well known that cortisone can influence sleep when we receive a hydrocortisone shot.
In conclusion, by optimizing the production and metabolism of chemicals that affect sleep and balancing our nervous systems, acupuncture can maintain the appropriate sleep pattern and duration.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Why stress and indigestion can aggravate the allergy symptoms?

Chronic stress can compromise our immune function, which can lead to all kinds of diseases getting worse.  I.J. Elenkov et al. at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, localized a corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. This hormone stimulates the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol to fight stress. In humans, CRH is found in the inflamed tissues of patients with severe autoimmune diseases. These researchers demonstrated that CRH activates mast cells, leading to the release of histamine, which ends in fluid leaking from blood vessels. Thus, the activation of the stress system through the direct and indirect effects of CRH may influence the susceptibility of an individual to certain autoimmune diseases, allergies, infection, or even cancer.
In Chinese medicine, every kind of disease can be linked with indigestion. When our digestion is not optimized, the food cannot be processed properly, thus the minerals, protein and good fat can become toxin to trigger immune reactions. In order to avoid an early onset of allergies, parents should feed children homemade foods as much as they can, especially when they are sick and have weak digestive functions. Parents should also try to avoid feeding children barbecued meat because well-cooked meat has a much smaller chance of inducing food allergies. Parents should start baby food as early as 6 months of age to raise a healthy child. We should avoid long-term use of antibiotics because antibiotics can damage our digestive system. Drinking alcohol every day, even just one glass can inflame your stomach and intestinal membrane. In order to improve your digestion, you need to eat 80% full for each meal; do not drink too much water while you are eating; try to drink water 30 min before you are eating. Apple cider vinegar helps the stomach digest food more efficiently, thus it can help reduce allergy symptoms.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Acupuncture and Depression

Acupuncture and Depression
Depression is an illness involving the mind and the body and that because it affects how one feels, thinks, and behaves, depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems such as sadness, irritability or frustration, reduced sexual drive, insomnia or excessive sleeping, changes in appetite, agitation or restlessness, slowed thinking, indecisiveness, distractibility, fatigue, and loss of energy. So many symptoms for a single illness.  

Depression affects 26.2 % of all Americans, which means that when you board a bus to work in the morning, one in every four passengers is clinically depressed.  It is a hidden illness that often goes undiagnosed and untreated because we can easily blame its symptoms on something else.  Thus, we spend a lifetime convincing ourselves that when we say day after day, “I am so tired, I don’t feel like going out.  I’m not hungry, sexually motivated, or interested enough to participate,” it is just a defect in our personality. 

Depression changes people close to us.  Loved ones can feel a loss of emotional connection with someone who is depressed.  Friends at work may have to put in extra hours to make up for the loss of productivity when their co-workers’ depression interferes with their job. 

Western medicine has created drugs, which successfully treat many types of depression and anxiety.  Because these drugs are so powerful, however, suddenly starting, stopping, or changing dosage can lead to unpredictable outcomes.  Children and young adults, especially, may react to these medications in ways not predicted by FDA trials.   On the other hand, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture, which uses the body and mind’s own mechanisms to combat depression, may be a safer first approach to less severe cases since innate systems are tweaked rather than radically altered. 

Depression and anxiety are associated with an imbalance of hormones such as serotonin, GABA, dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and progesterone. Acupuncture and herbal medicine have been verified to make your own body produce balanced hormones, not too much, not too little. After patients have acupuncture treatment, they feel more motivated, happier and have more positive attitude. Chinese herbs also can help improve  different internal organs, such as adrenal gland, liver and stomach, to make your body produce the right amount of feeling good hormones such as serotonin, Dopamine, GABA and progesterone. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How Acupuncture can be used as a Remedy for Ailments

How Acupuncture can be used as a Remedy for Ailments

Acupuncture is a form of medicine which involves fine needles being inserted into the skin. It was started in ancient China and its use exists to date. But is acupuncture really effective? When can it be used and how can one insert the needles without causing excess pain? Acupuncture practitioners suggest that there are channels in the body known as meridians through which energy flows. This energy is also referred to as chi. Diseases and other conditions are as a result of chi not flowing freely through the body. Acupuncture, which is administered through acupoints in the body, can help in restoring health. It is a way of unblocking or influencing chi so that it can flow back in to a balanced mode.

Uses of Acupuncture

There is no specific disease that acupuncture is designed to treat. It is used for many different ailments and conditions, which has been proved by many scientific evidences.
Sometimes it is even combined with conventional medicine that has been prescribed by the doctor. It is advisable to let both the professionals know that a patient is also undergoing treatment from the other. Conventional health institutions consider acupuncture as a remedy option for lower back pain. It is however used for several other conditions especially involving muscles and bones, more so where there is pain. Some of these include pain in the neck, back, joints and dental pain. It can also be used for headaches and migraines as well as post operation pains.

Acupuncturists are able to deal with other forms of illnesses such as: Menstrual disorders and infertility problems, chronic fatigue, eczema, hay fever and other allergies, insomnia, stomach disorders such as the irritable bowel syndrome, vomiting and nausea experienced after an operation, withdrawal symptoms after a drug addiction. Acupuncture restores energy by cleansing the system. The detox action goes together with the balancing of energy (chi) which creates a relaxed and refreshed feeling.

How to Carry out Acupuncture

The optimal results for this treatment are obtained through a series of sessions. The body regains energy bit by bit because the effect of the treatment is cumulative. The immune system is balanced gradually and with time less pain is felt. The initial session involves an examination of medical history, general health and current physical condition. If a patient is suffering from a specific ailment, the acupuncturist will examine its symptoms and ask for information on any other forms of treatment received previously.

The needles inserted are very thin and are inserted at specific locations known as acupoints. Specialists use certain bones and muscles as reference points to help them locate the correct points. The points are believed to be energy points where energy is not flowing properly. Each point relates to a particular health condition or body function.
The session is mostly performed when the patient is sitting or lying down. The needles measure about 30mm long. They should be sterilized and are only used once and disposed immediately after. Out of over 500 acupuncture points in the body, only one to twelve are used at a time. The needles reach just under the skin or a little bit deeper to touch the muscle. At times pressure, heat or mild electrical current maybe applied together with the needles. They are left in that position for between 15 minutes and an hour.

As the needles go in, there is normally a slight itch, numbness or a tingling sensation. It may also be rolled slightly to and from. No significant pain should be felt, and any serious ache should be reported immediately. The slight itch should be an indicator that the energy flow or chi has been reached.

Author Bio: Ion Doaga who blogs at Top Shiatsu Massage about shiatsu, massagers, acupuncture and health related topics. You can reach him at

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Five Reasons to Consider Acupuncture: Written by Chris Titus

Re-posted with permission from
In recent years, Oriental medicine has been growing in popularity, forcing many in the Western medical community to sit up and take notice.  Fifteen years ago, if you asked your primary care physician about acupuncture, he or she might have laughed you out of their office. Today, their responses have changed to something more accepting.  While most will readily admit they don’t understand this ancient practice, there is a growing body of research that indicates it works for many conditions.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
The practice of acupuncture originated thousands of years ago in China with the use of stones.  It operates on the theory that energy, known as “chi” in the East -- similar to bio-electricity in the West -- must flow freely in the body.  If there is a blockage, organs will not receive enough energy to function properly, leading to disease. Acupuncture seeks to open these blockages, allowing the body to heal itself.  This is done by inserting very thin needles into combinations of points along fourteen energy pathways that cover the body.  These pathways are called meridians.
Why Should You Use It?
The following five points offer compelling reasons to consider using acupuncture.
Reason 1: Efficacy
The most obvious reasons you should add a new treatment to your health care arsenal is that it works equally well as, if not better than, your current regimen, while causing fewer side-effects.  Does acupuncture meet either of those criteria?  According to a 1996 review of controlled clinical trials conducted around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that acupuncture successfully treats 28 conditions, including the number one affliction plaguing Americans -- hypertension.  The WHO also stated that acupuncture shows promise for treating 52 other conditions.
Since the WHO’s review was conducted, numerous clinical studies have been launched in the West, yielding mixed results.  Many have concluded that acupuncture is no better than “sham” acupuncture -- when patients are needled in non-acupuncture points.  Critics of these studies cite their poor study design, as well as sample sizes that are too small to reach any meaningful conclusions.  Based upon the inconclusive results, more funding needs to be allocated to research a health care modality that Americans are pursuing in record numbers.  In 2007, there were 17.5 million acupuncture visits in the U.S., for an estimated out-of-pocket expense of $1.1 billion.
Before conducting more studies, researchers need to answer two questions.  First, why are so many people looking outside of Western medicine for their answers?  Each year there are roughly one billion doctor visits in the United States. In an overburdened system, where the average doctor appointment lasts only seventeen minutes, it would seem logical that thousands, if not millions, of patients could slip through the cracks.  With so little time to render an accurate diagnosis, it’s no wonder that one in five patient visits results in a psychosomatic diagnosis.  
From the patient’s point of view, a psychosomatic diagnosis often leaves them feeling as if their doctor has marginalized their physical complaints, if not outright dismissed them. Despite classifying symptoms as having a psychological (or mental) origin, doctors are reaching increasingly for their script pads. According to the CDC, 74% of doctor visits result in some form of drug therapy.  Often, these drugs only mask the symptoms without making a dent in curing the underlying imbalance.  Patients feel frustrated by the side effects and prospect of a life dependent upon chemicals.  Soon, they see their only option for finding a lasting cure is to look outside of the current system.
The second, and more important question is, which style of acupuncture should the medical community be testing?  Similar to the many styles of martial arts that exist, there are also many styles of acupuncture. When you consider the diversity of styles, it doesn’t seem appropriate to perform clinical trials on one style and make generalizations about an entire medical practice.  Studies should first seek out the most effective styles for each condition.  Then these styles should be tested against “sham” acupuncture as well as current mainstream therapies.  Otherwise, there will never be accurate data with which to stem the growing rift between Eastern and Western medicine.
Recently, conducted a national survey of acupuncturists in the United States. Comments made by practitioners with more established practices had a common recommendation: Learn one of a handful of styles that are not currently taught in schools.  Many attributed their success in part due to learning these other styles, asserting that the superior results they yielded were responsible for the strong word-of-mouth following they enjoyed with patients.
Having been one of the many patients who slipped through the cracks of Western medicine, my own journey led me through yoga, ayerveda, chiropractic, muscle testing, naturopathy, and eventually Chinese medicine. I landed on this path after being bounced around virtually every Western specialty.  In total, I visited with more than 140 physicians over a fifteen-year period.  Living in Boston afforded me access to many of the world’s leading hospitals and physicians.  After hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses, my cure was not found in Western medicine, it was found in acupuncture … a medical practice ridiculed by many of my Western physicians. 
So, is acupuncture effective?  ABSOLUTELY.  Is all acupuncture created equal?  No.  In the absence of proper medical studies, it’s up to you to do your own research through trial and error.  For me, the fourth style of acupuncture I tried was the one that brought about lasting relief.
One final point I would like to make on this topic is related to the safety of acupuncture when administered by trained professionals.  The risk of injury or death is infinitesimally low -- well below 1%.  Compare this with the fact that the third leading cause of death in the United States is the Western medical system (given as “iatrogenic causes”).
Reason 2: Economy
There are two economic reasons to consider acupuncture.  The first reason relates to your personal economic situation.  For many conditions, acupuncture is a viable economic alternative to drug therapy.  If you average the total cost of obtaining a prescription for chronic conditions (including routine doctor visits, blood tests for liver and kidney damage, and the prescription) the average weekly expense is often higher than that of acupuncture. Factor in acupuncture’s goal of curing many conditions that Western medicine merely aims to contain, and acupuncture begins looking very appealing.
It has been well-documented that job loss and illness go hand-in-hand.  As the economic crisis has rippled its way across the globe, we’ve seen millions of people lose their jobs in its wake.  Job loss bring with it a loss of employer-sponsored health insurance at the exact moment when people become more susceptible to illness. 
One viable solution is community acupuncture.  The Community Acupuncture Network is comprised of clinics that treat people in a group setting at affordable rates.  The cost per appointment ranges from $15 to $35.  At these prices, acupuncture beats most drug therapies on a price comparison.
To understand the second economic reason for using acupuncture, you need to take a macroeconomic view of the US.  During 2011, the first of the Baby Boomers began retiring.  Over the next ten years, the number of retirees is expected to grow by 80% to 72 million people.  With people living longer and the cost of health care skyrocketing, it appears unlikely that we will be able to pay for the services needed to care for the elderly. 
To put this in perspective, some economists estimate that the U.S. entitlement liabilities add to $115 trillion -- Social Security ($15T), Medicare Part D ($20T), and Medicare ($80T).  By comparison, the muc- debated national debt appears rather frivolous at $15 trillion. 
Entitlement liabilities are calculated using a net present value calculation.  As such, the expenses for current and near-term retirees (Baby Boomers) have the largest weight in the calculation.  Depending upon the interest rate, cost of living, and health care inflation assumptions used to calculate NPV, the net result is an additional cost of $1 trillion to $3.5 trillion per year over the next 30 years. 
A quick look at the money supply data published by the Federal Reserve points to a rapid and sustained increase in the monetary base long after QE2 ended in June 2011.  In the eight months following the end of QE2, the thirteen week moving averages for M1 and M2 roughly doubled to 20.4% and 10.0% year-over-year, respectively.  When compared with the annualized sequential quarterly change, the growth shows an accelerating trend reaching 32.3% and 17.5%, respectively.  It’s important to note that the numbers provided by the Fed took the sequential growth figures and simply multiplied them by four.  If the numbers were compounded, arguably a preferable method, M1 and M2 would rise to 36.4% and 18.7%, respectively.
Note: Since this article was originally authored, the thirteen week moving average growth rates for M1 and M2 have declined to 12.7% and 6.8%.
So, why should you begin using acupuncture?  Consider how the increase in entitlement spending will affect the money supply.  The average spending required for Baby Boomers ($2.25T) will expand the money supply at a rate of 25% per year.  Keep in mind that this does not include the current $1.7 trillion deficit. From the money-supply data above, it’s safe to assume that some of this growth is already being printed.  At our Greece-like debt-levels, it’s unlikely investors will want to lend us money to pay for our entitlements in the future.  To pay for it, the US. will have to print money, which sets the stage for hyper-inflation.  Businesses will find it difficult to survive, and millions more people will lose their jobs and benefits. This is the reason gold has risen to $1,700/oz. 
One way the government may decide to combat this scenario is to ration health care spending.  If you are a retiree, you are faced with not receiving care.  This will lead to higher prices.  Inflation will not only increase the cost of care, but you may see your saving erode so fast that you cannot afford care.  Since most companies view doctors as their end customer, patients are left without a voice.  With so many patients and fewer doctors expected in the future, how likely is it that your doctor will accommodate your circumstances when there are so many other paying customers they can treat? 
As previously discussed, community acupuncture offers an affordable solution to your needs.  Additionally, acupuncturists who are not beholden to insurance companies or group practices may find it easier to barter patients' goods and services for their services.  Lastly, acupuncture is a service that offers immediate healing. Writing a prescription for a drug you cannot afford is not a service that offers any healing.
Reason 3: Environment
Whether or not you believe in drug therapy, you may not have a choice if you are one of the 40 million Americans exposed to pharmaceuticals through your drinking water.  This is a testament to how prevalent pharmaceuticals have become in our daily life.  While these exposures only exist in trace amounts, they are on the rise.  There’s no telling how high they will be in twenty years.
Replacing drugs with non-toxic acupuncture will reduce the amount of stress you place on your internal and external ‘environments’.  The body was not designed to consume so many chemicals day in and day out.  As the waistlines of America have grown, so too has the storage space for these chemicals.  Many toxins find homes in fat cells, only to poison the body over lengthy periods as they are released back into the bloodstream.  This can lead to a variety of diseases.
I believe the Chinese medical pharmacy offers a viable solution for many of our maladies.  While it may not offer a cure to the ‘super bugs’ we’ve seen as of late, antibiotics are not exactly the blockbuster category that drug companies have been pushing through direct-to-consumer advertising to earn billions of dollars in profits.  For these indications--heart disease, sexual dysfunction, incontinence, cancer, and so on--Chinese herbal remedies do offer alternatives. 
It’s important to note that roughly a quarter of all pharmaceutical on the market are actually derived from herbs. However, rather than use the entire plant, science extracts what it thinks are the active ingredients without giving thought to how these chemicals interact with the discarded parts of the plant once inside the body.  The East takes a ‘wholistic’ approach to health, whereas the West takes a specialist approach.  If you are reading this article from the confines of a cubicle in a large corporation, you know how well the compartmentalized organizational structure works when departments don’t talk with each other or even know what’s happening two rows away.  This is the same reason the specialized modern medical system is failing so many people.
Lastly, herbal medicine is a sustainable resource that adds to the environment.  It needs to be cultivated, not replaced by a process that destroys our drinking water and food supply. 

Reason 4: Energy
As described by Chris Martenson in his video series, The Crash Course, there is a strong argument to be made that the world has already put peak oil in its rear view mirror.  What does this mean?  In the future, each barrel of oil will become increasingly expensive as it becomes more difficult to extract and refine.  We are already seeing this reflected in oil prices, which politicians are conveniently attributing to speculators.  The scary scenario comes when output dwindles to the point where supply equals demand.  Countries that produce oil will begin to hoard their resources, which will dramatically reduce the available supply of oil on the market and further increase prices.  If new energy sources are not discovered and made available on a mass scale, the world could see devastating disruptions to the food supply, not to mention health care.
Consider how much the health care system depends upon energy.  Every diagnostic test, drug, medical supply, and device requires substantial amounts of energy and petroleum to run, produce, and ship.  Now, compare that to acupuncture.  Simply put, you can administer acupuncture by candle light.  Similarly, Chinese medical diagnostic testing relies on something Western doctors have lost touch with … the patient.  The primary diagnosis is performed by palpitating the pulse, along with other body parts, and an examination of the tongue.  In addition to the patient’s history, acupuncturists take into account the patient’s body odor, appearance, and other physical and vocal observations.  Chinese medicine creates a full medical system built around the patient and what you readily have available at your disposal.
If the next crisis we encounter is an energy crisis, acupuncture could be a valuable option for solving your health care needs.

Reason 5: Experience
Transitioning from a position in marketing or accounting to become an acupuncturist is more than a simple career change, it’s a calling.  Many of the people I’ve met who made this leap did so at the end of their own journey through a health care crisis.  It’s these types of experiences that build compassion in a practitioner, which brings us back to the first question asked in Reason 1--why are so many people looking outside of Western medicine?  In addition to seeking answers to their problems, patients are looking for a level of compassion not found in Western medicine. 
Another aspect of experience is ‘age’.  When someone decides to go to medical school, it’s typically within a year or two after graduating from their undergraduate studies, if not immediately after.  They’ve hardly worked or had any real world experience, yet they choose to make an enormous investment in a career at an age when they hardly know themselves. If they don’t like their job or interacting with people, too bad.  Once you go down a path with such an large debt burden, it’s difficult to get off.  Now, fast forward ten years into their career.  If they feel stuck in the wrong career, pressured by hospital administrators to squeeze in more appointments, or have grown tired of a never ending stream of “whining patients”, then the result will be compassion-less care.
Compare that to someone who is thirty-five years old, knows him or herself very well, has worked for a number of years in various positions and companies, and endured their own health care issues.  It would appear the latter person is making a more informed decision that could lead to a happier career choice, and possibly more compassionate care.

Acupuncture offers an effective alternative for people who need help during these difficult economic times, as well as people who are interested in protecting the environment and conserving energy.  It’s important to remember that there are many different styles of acupuncture that have developed over thousands of years. For Western science to accurately test acupuncture’s efficacy against “sham” acupuncture or current Western treatments, researchers first need to find the best styles of acupuncture for a given condition. 

Chris Titus is a native of Boston, Massachusetts. Over the past fifteen years, he has held various investment research positions with a focus on the health care sector. His first novel, The God Complex, aims to make traditional Chinese medicine more accessible by giving it a mainstream story line. The resulting work offers readers an exciting and painless introduction to acupuncture, martial arts, and herbology. The novel draws upon his own experiences as both a patient in search of a cure and as a health care analyst. He hopes his novel will reach out to patients struggling to find a diagnosis, the families trying to understand their plight, and health care professionals. Chris plans to use the proceeds of his book to return to school and train as an acupuncturist.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Acupuncture and Adrenal Gland Functions

Coincident with the equilibrium theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, many studies have demonstrated that acupuncture treatments contribute to the maintenance of the balance of biological chemicals such as serotonin, endorphin, dopamine, cortisol, and many other hormones in the central nervous system. Endocrine glands secrete hormones directly into the lymph and the bloodstream. The endocrine system is an orchestra that requires all of its players to be fully engaged. The quick alleviation of symptoms of various diseases by acupuncture is partially fulfilled via the simultaneous improvement of the functions of endocrine glands, such as adrenal gland, provided that there is no structural abnormality in the endocrine system. The following is a brief summary of some scientific evidence that acupuncture can optimize adrenal gland function.
1. Anti-inflammatory function of adrenal gland
RX Zheng published a paper in the Journal of Alternative Complement Medicine regarding acupuncture’s effect on adrenal gland function. Electroacupuncture at 10 Hz significantly reduced chemically induced hind paw edema in rats. The effect was partially blocked by adrenalectomy (removing adrenal gland). Electroacupuncture significantly increased plasma levels of cortisol but caused no noticeable signs of stress, such as increased blood sugar level. Electroacupuncture at 10 Hz may activate the hypothalamus-pituitary- adrenal axis and enhance adrenal gland function to produce more endogenous cortisol.
2. Balancing different hormones from the adrenal gland.
Dr. HS Lee of the Republic of Korea did extensive research on the effects of acupuncture on water metabolism and high blood pressure. Applying manual acupuncture on the UB15 decreased plasma levels of aldosterone (a chemical stimulating the body to retain more water and sodium), whereas acupuncture on the UB23 decreased plasma renin activity (a chemical stimulating blood vessels to constrict in order to increase blood pressure). Both points helped lower blood pressure. These results suggest that acupuncture on specific points may have site-specific regulatory effects on hormone levels and that the meridian points, UB23 and UB15, are associated with the regulation of body fluids and of electrolyte balance to optimize the blood pressure level.
3. Optimize cortisol level
Acupuncture can also reduce stress-induced increases of the blood cortisol level. QG, Yang et al. conducted some research on a group of people undergoing heart and lung surgery. Thirty patients with atrial septal defects were divided into 3 groups: the general anesthesia group (A), the acupuncture anesthesia group (B), and the group of general anesthesia combined with electroacupuncture (C). Peripheral blood samples were collected at times before anesthesia, before surgery, and 30 minutes after surgery to determine the levels of plasma ß-endorphin, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) (a hormone that stimulates the adrenal gland to produce more cortisol), serum cortisol, and blood glucose. Plasma beta-endorphin, ACTH, and serum cortisol increased significantly in both Groups A and B 30 minutes after surgery, but there were no significant changes in Group C. Blood glucose increased in all the 3 groups 30 minutes after surgery but increased much less in Group C. When our bodies go through surgeries, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, the important stress coping system, will act up. Thus, cortisol and glucose levels will generally increase because of stress. This response can lead to suppressed immune function and therefore infection, high blood sugar levels, or other complications after surgery. Combining acupuncture with general anesthesia can inhibit this stress response so that the stress hormone cortisol is adjusted to precisely the right level: not too high to cause tissue damage and not too low to create chronic inflammation. People can even recover from the open-heart surgery more quickly.
How can acupuncture increase cortisone level in one condition and reduce the same hormone in another? This happens because acupuncture can generally balance thyroid, adrenal gland, and other gland functions so that the levels of the different hormones are optimized. When inflammation continues, our bodies need more cortisol. Acupuncture stimulates the adrenal gland to produce more by enhancing its function instead of exhausting it as caffeine does. When our bodies produce too much cortisol to cope with stress, acupuncture reduces cortisol production by eliminating the stress factor and enhancing liver and kidney function to quickly discharge the extra stress hormones. H. Mori of the Department of Acupuncture at the Tsukuba College of Technology, Japan used electroacupuncture to stimulate a rat’s hind paw with different intensities. He found that the adrenal gland could produce more or less adrenaline depending on what kind of manipulation is applied to the points. This mechanism may be associated with improved adrenal gland function. Generally, hand manipulation tends to relax people more than electrical stimulation. If the main purpose is to lower stress levels and the patients are already very tight with a lot of blocked energy, mild hand manipulation should be used to help reduce the stress hormone. If the patients are exhausted from chronic illness and the adrenal gland is depleted with a very low production of cortisol, then, an application of low frequency electrical stimulation will enhance the adrenal gland function.
In Chinese medicine, the kidney is a very important organ closely related with reproductive function, bone formation, urinary function, and hormone balance. Many kidney points are located on the foot. When we stimulate these points, most patients say they become more energetic even with the same amount of sleep. Perhaps this is the result of a temporary increase in cortisol level. Although we just mentioned that high cortisol levels are not good, a normal adrenal gland can only increase cortisol levels within a certain range that does not cause any tissue damage. Acupuncture adjusts the adrenal gland function to produce the optimized amount of adrenaline in order to dilate the trachea and increase heart rate when our body is physically challenged. If people have too much adrenaline, they will end up with palpitations or a panic attack. If adrenaline is insufficient, people will have exercise-triggered asthma attacks. Since the adrenal gland plays such an important role in our lives, a famous scientist, Dr. Omura, conduct a lot of research to determine how the adrenal gland correlates with the Chinese meridian systems. He found that the Pericardium meridian, running along the midline of the ventral part of the arm and the chest area, is closely associated with adrenal gland function, and that the Triple Burner meridian, running along the midline of the dorsal part of the arm, shoulder and head area, is associated with ovary or adrenal gland function in the female and with testes or adrenal gland function in the male.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Acupuncture and Infertility

The meridian system consists of 20 meridians interconnecting more than 400 acupuncture points. These acupoints are located on specific areas of the body surface that demonstrate higher electrical conductance because of the presence of higher density of gap junctions (special connections between cells that transmit iron and other intracellular signaling molecules). They act as converging points (or sinks) for electromagnetic fields. Higher metabolic rates, temperatures, and calcium ion concentrations are also observed at these points. In principle, positive (anode) pulse stimulation of a point inhibits organ function, whereas negative (cathode) pulse stimulation enhances that function. This forms the basis of electroacupuncture. Acupuncture or electroacupuncture has been approved to help optimize all the hormone levels by working through the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovary axis (HPOA). Traditional Chinese Medicine stimulates the body’s own natural production of hormones while restoring the health and harmony of the entire system. We cannot simply say that acupuncture increases certain hormones. It has dual roles: it micro adjusts different kinds of hormones in the different levels of the HPOA and restores a subtle balance.

From the Western medical point of view, the influence of electrical acupuncture on the change in estrogen receptor expression in the brain may be one of the mechanisms of normalizing the function of the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovary axis. R Chang et. al published an article in Fertility and Sterility in 2002, suggesting that acupuncture positively impacts opioid production in the central nervous system, which, in turn, influences gonadotropin secretion from the hypothalamus.

Dr. Paul Magarelli, a reproductive endocrinologist and the medical director of the Reproductive Medicine & Fertility Center in Colorado, carried out clinical research combining acupuncture and an in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure. Of those women in the acupuncture group, 51 percent achieved a successful pregnancy, compared to 36 percent of those who underwent IVF alone. The miscarriage rate was 8% in the acupuncture group versus 20% in the non-acupuncture group. There were no ectopic (Tubal) pregnancies in the group of women who underwent acupuncture, but 9% of those in the group without acupuncture had a Tubal pregnancy. The investigators also reported 23% more births per pregnancy among those who had acupuncture as part of their infertility treatment. Initially Dr. Magarelli did not believe in acupuncture. After this research, he was convinced that acupuncture does help to improve the IVF success rate.

Li Zheng is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, a graduate of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine with 11 years of formal training, including 6 years of residency, a Ph.D. degree holder in medical sciences from the US, a Harvard Medical School trained researcher, a professor at the New England School of Acupuncture, and a staff acupuncturist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Her website is and her clinic is located at 475 hillside avenue, Needham, MA02494.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Estrogen Dominance, Fibroid and Endometriosis

If estrogen is not balanced by progesterone, it can stimulate the uterus tissue to grow abnormally, leading to fibroids and endometriosis. Clinical data show that overweight women, typically with high estrogen, tend to develop fibroids, indicating that an estrogen dominance condition can be related to fibroids.

When menstrual blood flows backward from the uterus into the fallopian tubes and spreads into pelvic tissues, part of the uterus lining can also travel with the blood and implant outside the uterus, causing endometriosis. Then why don’t all women who have menstrual back-flow develop endometriosis? The following factors may contribute to endometriosis:

1. Imbalance between estrogen and progesterone: Khaleque Newaz Khan et al. in Japan published an article about how estrogen-progesterone imbalance can be associated with endometriosis in Human Reproduction, 2005. They measured one of the growth factors called hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), a chemical stimulating tissue growth, in one type of immune cells, called macrophages, under different conditions. Women with endometriosis tend to have higher than normal levels of HGF. Furthermore, when macrophages are exposed to a higher level of estrogen without progesterone, the level of HGF increases, and its gene expression is also enhanced. When the estrogen level is dampened with another chemical or the progesterone level increased, the growth rate is much lower. Higher growth factor level may facilitate the endometrium tissue growing outside the uterus when there is back-flow of the menses.

2. Genetic make-up: Some women have higher base levels of estrogen; they tend to have a very thick endometrium build-up before their period and have a very heavy blood flow and menstrual pain. If they have poor nutrition, they could have more opportunities to develop endometriosis when menstrual blood flows backward.

If you have fibroids or an endometriosis condition, what can you do to improve your fertility?

1. Surgery can quickly remove the fibroids or scrape off the endometriosis in the uterus or outside the uterus. But if after surgery, you use acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to balance your hormone and immune systems, you definitely can get pregnant faster and also prevent fibroids or endometriosis from growing back again. In my practice, I keep following up on those ladies who currently have fibroids or endometriosis, or had surgery for this condition. I have found that if hormone balance cannot be restored after surgery, fibroids and endometriosis will grow back very soon.

2. In Chinese Medicine, fibroid and endometriosis are associated with blood stasis and phlegm condition. You may try to eat food to release blood stasis: kelp, lemons, limes, onions, Irish moss, bladder wrack, and linseed oil, which has omega-3, a natural blood thinner.

3. Fresh ginger not only helps to strengthen our digestive system, but also is another natural blood thinner to reduce inflammation and facilitate the blood circulation.

4. Another natural blood thinner is methyl-sulfonyl-methane (MSM), a special biological sulfur found in fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. If you eat as much fresh fruits and vegetables as recommended, your blood circulation will improve.

5. Common Herbs used for fibroids: Tao Hong Si Wu Tang, + Xiang Fu, Lu Lu Tong, Shi Chang Pu, Yi Yi Ren.

6. Micro-electrical current therapy: Cooking the herbs Tao Ren, Zao Jiao Ci, Bai Jiang Cao, Hong Teng to make a concentrated solution; soaking gauze with the decoction, then applying electrodes on gauze attached to uterus and ovarian areas. The micro-current will help infiltrate the active ingredient of herbal decoction to the uterus and ovarian areas. This is a very common treatment in China.

7. Enema with herbal decoction twice to three times a week is a very effective method to treat tube blockage, fibroids and endometriosis. It is a routine treatment for infertility in the hospital where I was trained in Beijing.

8. Do not use tampons because back flow of blood is one of the factors causing endometriosis.

9. Do not eat too much spicy food to facilitate the internal heat.

10. Get rid of all the simple sugars to help restore estrogen and progesterone balance.

11. Try to avoid alcohol after ovulation, you tend to have more internal heat and phlegm after progesterone goes up.

12. Drink more water, especially during your period; this will help reduce inflammation.