Currently viewing the tag: "complementary therapy"

Medicines are well known life savers; they save millions of lives every year from hundreds of dreadful diseases.

No matter how prepared we are, we can still be susceptible to infectious diseases and they can come back to haunt us.

The human microbiome is an ecosystem that is a collection of trillions of microbes; human and microbial cells, each have a specific genetic expression and collectively make us a ‘super organism’. Newborns start to pick up microbes at birth. This is a selective process and gradually introduces complementary and useful microbes that help the body to undertake essential body functions.   It adds around 8 million genes to the estimated 20,000-25,000 human genome. Within a period of three years a mature microbiome is developed.

The human microbiome resides in the mouth, gut, vagina and on the skin, but varies greatly between the different body sites. As an example the microbiome difference between the mouth and the gut is comparable to the difference in microbes in the ocean and soil.  Skin microbes prevent pathogens from colonising the skin and stimulate the immune system. Similarly gut bacteria functions include; synthesis of vitamins and neurochemicals, assist digestion and strengthen the immune system. For this reason science has firmly established the relationship between a healthy gut microbiome to overall wellness and good health.

Although comparable, the mibrobiome also varies from one person to the other. Likely influencing factors include, host genetics, diet, environment and exposure to specific microbes in early life.

Medicines: A Miracle or a Martyr?

Over decades we have been witnessing a serious rise in antibiotic prescriptions. Historically, antibiotics have a proven role in warring against harmful bacteria/viruses saving us from countless infections. Unfortunately they are not discriminatory and like many battles the price we pay is in the collateral damage to our microbiome.

According to the research data published by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), one out of four antibiotics negatively affects the growth of gut bacteria. The carefully nurtured gut microbiome falls out of balance, thus upsetting our delicate intestinal ecosystem consequently increasing our risk for disease and chronic conditions e.g. IBS, diabetes, leaky gut, food intolerances.

These findings raise another serious question; could these changes also contribute to antibiotic resistance?, and in the same way can other non-antibiotic drugs similarly damage the microbiome ? Commonly prescribed medicines (NSAIDs, antipsychotics, anti-diabetics, proton pump inhibitors, and so on) have been known to create changes in microbiome composition.

To further answer this the EMBL study screened more than 1,000 marketed drugs to try and understand their effects on 40 strains of gut bacteria. The study’s conclusive statement was that more than 24% of the marketed drugs affected the growth of at least one bacterial species.

In 2019, Belenky and his colleagues published a study in Cell Metabolism. The study was conducted in mice. It was found that antibiotics changed the metabolism and composition of the mice gut microbiome.

Although still not the full picture, these studies offer a snap shot of the potential damage common drugs can do to healthy gut microbial function.

Therapy, Diet & Microbiome

Medical studies suggest that a healthy diet; low in simple sugars and high in fiber increases the susceptibility of gut microbiome to certain antibiotics. Researchers found that adding glucose to a mouse’s diet (normally low sugar, high fiber) increased the susceptibility of certain bacteroides to amoxicillin.  This validates the importance of how our diet can protect gut microbiome from the disturbing effects of antibiotics.

Most importantly, any excessive or unnecessary medication can seriously damage your gut function. Changes to your diet, and seeking alternative therapies can help to reduce the need for medicines, whilst the introduction of prebiotic foods (e.g. garlic, onions, yogurt, kefir, fermented food, bone broth) and probiotic supplements will enhance microbiome function.

A new study has shown improvements in mice gut microbiome with electro acupuncture and moxibustion treatments. Similar microfloral changes were reported by another study using electro acupuncture on obese rats.

To further reduce the need for prescription medicines, therapies like acupuncture, massage and hypnotherapy can be effectively used in place of or as an adjunct for many conditions e.g. pain, anxiety, depression and other conditions.

 

Are you frequently experiencing physical exhaustion as well as emotional fatigue? Do you often find yourself fighting for energy? If the answer is affirmative, then it is time to start making some healthy changes to your diet and charge up your routine life.

Energy Absorbing Demons

Do you know that even some unnoticeable habits like poor nutrition can cause energy exhaustion? “Why I always feel tired?” is one of the most frequent complaints that health practitioners are receiving around the world. Well, the answer is not so complex to understand as it is the direct result of what we eat, do, and don’t do.

Lack of physical exercise, overdependence on caffeine, inadequate sleep, smoking, lack of proper body hydration, and excessive consumption of sugar and alcohol are some of the most prominent reasons for your physical as well as emotional exhaustion.

Energy Boosting Dietary Habits

1. The Science of Wholesome Nutrition

According to Harvard Health Publishing, incorporating a balanced diet is of paramount importance. Nutritionally, your diet should include balanced portions of healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, anti-oxidants, unrefined carbohydrates, and minerals. Choose unprocessed foods packed in vitamins and mineral e.g. healthy oils found in nuts, fresh green vegetables, whole foods, lean meat cuts, fatty fish with higher omerga 3 content such as, salmon, sardines, mackerel, and fresh fruits must be the key architect of your routine diet.

2. Consume Smaller Meals

Eating smart is also the key here. Heavy meals are a burden on our digestive system, but also negatively hamper brain activity triggering a state of fatigue. Our brain demands a steady supply of essential nutrients, and thus, it is helpful to divide your meals into 5-6 smaller portions a day. It not only keeps you charged up, but also improves your mood.

3. Low Glycemic Foods

Our body is slow to absorb sugar from low glycaemia foods, which helps in preventing energy lag and reduces energy highs and lows. Energy levels are more consistent and constant. Increasing consumption of foods with low glycemic index such as nuts, high-fibre non-starchy vegetables, whole grains like oats, lentils, whole wheat, and healthy oils such as olive oil.

4. Timing Is Crucial

People are known to skip their meals thinking that it will make no difference. As per nutrition researcher and professor of nutrition, Dan Benardot, PhD, RD, FACSM, “Never let your tank get on empty,”. Our body demands fuelling from time to time as it is biologically adapted to receive food at regular interval. It is imperative to have your breakfast, lunch and dinner around your routine time. Skipping meals or having them at irregular time lowers down blood sugar and depletes our energy level.

5. Energy Boosting Foods

To keep you charged up throughout the day, include following energy boosting foods as much as possible. Foods to include more in your diet are salmon, tuna and other fatty fish, bananas, sweet potatoes, apple, whole eggs, avocado, quinoa, yogurt, oatmeal, lentils, beans, strawberries, oranges, green tea, nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc.) and seeds (flaxseeds, chia seeds, etc.) These foods have shown to facilitate energy production within body cells. 

6. Caution with Deprivation Diet

If you are following any health diet that encourages you to deprive yourself of food, then it is time to rethink. Staving yourself, no matter what health goals you are trying to achieve, reduces metabolism, which encourages our body to preserve as much energy as possible and shuts down energy release mechanism. It leads to the feeling of lethargy and physical exhaustion. A better option would be to reduce the volume of food you eat but be clever about what you eat. In this way you will still consume the much needed proteins and carbohydrates but also the essential vitamins and minerals.

7. Body Hydration = Energy

This seems like the most obvious tip, yet millions of people face energy drain due to improper body hydration. Even mild dehydration can deplete your energy level. When our body is ideally hydrated, it ensures that all essential physiological functions are carried out optimally. It maintains ideal energy level and promotes better mood. Ensure that you are drinking at least 2 litres or 8 (8-ounce each) glasses of water every day.

Apart from effective nutrition for the body, therapies like acupuncture and massage are also a potent solutions to regain your lost mental energy level and feel charged up. They can de-stress you, enhanced your blood circulation, promote better sleep, assist in rest and healing and facilitate positivity in your mood.

 

 

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Dizziness is a common medical complaint prevalent in 15-30% 1, 2 of the general population. However, it is a non-specific symptom which can refer to light headedness, imbalance, true vertigo or syncope (partial of full loss of consciousness). It can be a symptom of several diseases ranging from minor circulatory problems such as blood pressure fluctuations, inner ear balance problems to more serious nervous system disorders. Unlike dizziness, true vertigo is the sensation of spinning around. This can be migraine related, benign positional paroxysmal vertigo and Meniere’s disease.  Treatment for dizziness and vertigo varies but commonly includes anti-emetics and benzodiazepines, and specifically for vertigo the ‘Epley manuever’ can be useful. In unresponsive or resistant cases longer term and use of stronger medicines increases the threat of unwanted side-effects. 

Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that has been used to successfully treat many diseases for over thousands of years. Research3 on sixty emergency patients who presented with dizziness or vertigo divided into two groups; one received acupuncture and the other control.  Results showed significant improvements in their overall discomfort, dizziness and vertigo symptoms and lowered heart rate.

How Does Acupuncture Treat Dizziness?

Acupuncture is known to work locally at the point of needle insertion as well as stimulate the nervous system causing the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. It increases the release of endorphins and neuropeptides, thus triggers biochemical changes which works on body’s homeostatic mechanisms to boost emotional and physical health4. These anti-inflammatory and stress reducing mechanisms alleviate factors responsible for causing dizziness, including nervous tension. In uncomplicated cases a 100% recovery is possible. In the case of low blood pressure, acupuncture improves the body’s ability to regulate the blood pressure, and the ability to handle anxiety and stress more effectively.

In the case of vertigo due to Meniere’s disease5 immunomodulatory and vascular elements acts as anti-inflammatory and modulate any related infection, as a result alleviating symptoms. Similarly, in migraine related vertigo changes the way pain is processed in the brain and spinal cord thus reducing the migraine frequency. According to a Cochrane6 review of 22 trails the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment for migraines could be as good as prophylactic drugs.

 

You can live without Dizziness or Vertigo

The dreadful feeling of recurring dizziness or spinning is a handicap to normal life. In many cases sufferers are unable to continue to work, or struggle to care for their family and themselves. Where medical treatment is ineffective, people start to believe that they have to live with it, but this is not the case.

Chinese medicine is based on healthy flow of Qi throughout the body. Qi is the body’s vital energy that flows in pathways known as meridians or channels.  From this perspective the cause of dizziness or vertigo is a condition of either a Deficiency or Excess. In the case of Deficiency, there is not enough Kidney Qi reaching the head, whilst a condition of Excess is an accumulation of Phlegm and other pathogenic elements that cause stagnation, preventing the body’s warming Qi from reaching the head. Acupuncture treatment aims to strengthen the body function to remove the Deficiency, or clear any Excess so that Qi can flow freely. Consequently, re-balancing and maximizing the body function.

Acupuncture has the advantage of being a safe treatment option without the risk of side effects or taking additional medication. It focuses on normalizing the body functions by stimulating the body’s parasympathetic nervous system lowering stress, reinstating body homeostasis and promoting healthy blood flow particularly in the head.

 

Unfortunately, there are many endless factors that are not in our control. Stress needs no invitation to sneak up on us. Sometimes, it feels like no matter how hard we try to get rid of, stress finds its way to crawl back into our life.

We blame our jobs, relationships, financial aspects, and/or other personal reasons for being under stress; however, the truth is that it is us that ultimately have to pay the price, and not anyone else. Managing stress is in your hands only.

Failing to cope with everyday stress can mess with body physiology to cause health disorders including heart disease, digestive problems, anxiety, depression, headaches, weight gain, sleep problems, memory loss, and lack of concentration.

Stress Affects Body Functions  

While we try our best to lead a healthy lifestyle by taking care of our internal health, both acute and chronic stress can spoil that plan. Adverse effects of chronic stress are not only restricted to our mental health since it creates havoc in many essential body systems.

Brain Functions

Our brain is constantly engaged to everyday stressors; it processes, analyses and reacts to everyday situations. Studies on human health conclude that stress can cause structural changes in certain brain areas and affects the functionality of the human nervous system. This is evidenced by the phenomenon of “Steroid psychosis”, which is induced by anti-inflammatory drugs (considered to be synthetic hormones) when used on behvioural and cognitive disorders.

Chronic stress can lead to brain mass atrophy, and can even reduce its weight. It affects cognition, learning, and memory functions. In summary, researchers concluded that chronic stress is linked to reduced cognition, neurogenesis disorders, weakened verbal memory, and disruption of memory & judgement.

Long term brain changes due to stress leads to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Immune System

For decades, health researchers have shown interest in understanding the relationship between the immune system and stress. Impaired immune system is one of the most critical adverse effects of stress. A compromised immune state leads to higher risk of illness. Stress can modulate processes in the central nervous system to affect the functionality of immune system. In fact, the secretion of hormones, managing numerous immune functions, can also be affected by stress.

Studies investigated and concluded that stress mediators like glucocorticoid hormone can adversely affect immune functions as they are capable of passing through the blood-brain barrier, thus affecting processing and cognition abilities long-term. Severe stress can also lead to malignancy.

Cardiovascular System

Cardiovascular diseases and stress are positively correlated. Both acute and chronic stress leads to an increase in heart rate due to constriction of blood vessels, which in turn increases blood pressure. Stress can cause blood clotting disorders, increase in blood lipids, atherogenesis (fat deposition), leading to cardiac arrhythmias and subsequent myocardial infarction.

Gastrointestinal System

Stress is known to reduce appetite, and can adversely affect gastrointestinal (GI) track functions. Studies have shown that stress can lead to GI inflammation. Moreover, it affects the absorption process, ion channel functions (critical for movement of substances across cell membrane), and stomach acid secretion. Stress can cause critical GI diseases such as irritable bowel disease (IBS), Crohn’s disease and other ulcerative diseases.

Are you aware that a nutrient poor diet can also contribute to worsening your stress level? Hundreds of health studies have suggested a strong connection between stress and poor nutrition. Nutrition is a vital stress buster. Switching to a healthier diet is quite a common recommendation from physicians and health experts for better stress management.

Managing stress should be an important part of a healthy lifestyle.  Another efficient way to manage your stress is by introducing stress reducing techniques, or therapies.  

Acupuncture is blessed with body relaxing and calming effects, it enables physiological changes that release endorphins and other calming chemicals. This makes acupuncture a great enabler to relieve stress and anxiety.

Do not let stress disrupt your brain health & body chemistry? After all, we all deserve a stress-free, healthy lifestyle.

 

References:

  1. Yaribeygi H, Panahi Y, Sahraei H, Johnston TP, Sahebkar A. The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI J. 2017;16:1057-1072. Published 2017 Jul 21. doi:10.17179/excli2017-480 
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. Chronic stress puts your health at risk. Mayo Clinic. 2016 [Online] Available from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037   [Accessed: 9 March 2019]
  3. Harvard Health Publishing. Protect your brain from stress. Harvard Medical School. 2018 [Online] Available from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/protect-your-brain-from-stress [Accessed: 9 March 2019]
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Infertility can be both emotionally and financial exhausting. Every year, millions of couples face the challenge to overcome their infertility issues. The great news that it is not end of the world for them. Largely, because it can be managed with therapies such as Acupuncture.

Infamous Infertility  

In the UK 1 in 7 couples (14%) will have difficulty conceiving. In the US data released by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infertility affects about 12% of women belonging to age group of 15-44. Infertility is defined in broad term as inability to conceive for more than 12 months despite having regular unprotected sex.   Often couples turn to expensive medical treatments, costing a huge financial burden. Medical studies suggest that in 35% cases, both male and female contribute to infertility issues. Male factors only contributed to 8% of all cases.

Acupuncture to Boost Fertility

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicinal therapy. It is amazing traditional treatment that has been used to treat and manage hundreds of medical conditions. Acupuncture consists of inserting tiny, thin needles into specific points of a body to stimulate Qi energy and blood flow within targeting specific areas or body systems.

This ancient treatment modality has been known to improve fertility in both women and men. It is complete safe therapy with minimal after effects such as pinpoint bleeding, increased relaxation and sometimes flu-like symptoms. Despite the fact that Acupuncture is seldom used as a primary treatment option to improve fertility, it plays a vital role in maximizing the success of fertility treatments.

The use of acupuncture for infertility management is not a recent phenomenon, but has been used for more than 3000 years. Apart from balancing hormones and relieving stress, this remarkable treatment helps to stimulate blood flow to reproductive organs.

Stress & Infertility

Ovulation disorder is one major reason for infertility in women. It is an established medical fact that the hypothalamus, reproductive and pituitary glands are physiologically interconnected; stress can have adverse physiological effects, thus preventing ovulation entirely by triggering hormonal imbalance. Stress can also cause spasm in the fallopian tubes and the uterus, which in turn can creates issues with implantation of a fertilized egg. Acupuncture helps release endorphins in our brain to control the adverse effects of stress and cortisol. According to several medical research studies, acupuncture helps to balance the endocrine system and increases blood flow to the reproductive organs. Collectively, with reduced stressors and improved hormonal balance and healthier reproductive organs, fertility is improved.

Improved Blood Circulation

Acupuncture not only aims at getting pregnant; rather, it also aims at staying pregnant. It helps to facilitate improved blood flow to the ovaries and uterus. Such improved blood circulation strongly increases the chances for an egg to be well nourished and healthy. It significantly improves its chances to be carried to term.

Strategic acupuncture points stimulated during acupuncture improves the Qi energy flow throughout the body.  It helps to restore physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual balance. This restorative effect considerably increases a couple’s chances to conceive. However, acupuncture will be less effective if infertility is due to tubal blockage or adhesions.

Being hailed as the most popular alternative therapies by world renowned health experts and physicians, Acupuncture continues to be a feasible and reliable ancient therapy to boost fertility.

 

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Are you familiar with waking up felling sluggish, groggy and irritated after pulling an all-nighter, staying up till wee hours, or finishing a night shift?

Unfortunately, apart from feeling exhausted and lethargic, improper sleep does more harm to our health than we assume. We are not only paying fines for sleep deprivation in terms of lack of focus and bad mood; it has greater consequences for our long-term health.

The Vicious Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Despite rising awareness about the importance of proper sleep at night, health disorders associated with lack of adequate sleep are on continuous rise. It is estimated that approximately 1/3rd of human population suffers from health hazarding effects associated with poor sleep, working on computer and stress.

Alone in the US, approximately 50-70 million people are suffering from chronic health problems linked with sleep and wakefulness. Diabetes, heart diseases, obesity, and shortened life expectancy are the most common health disorders linked with poor sleep at night.

Research studies conducted on a group of volunteers state concluded that people getting inadequate sleep are at higher risk of falling victim to chronic diseases such as impaired control of blood glucose, increased inflammation, increase blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. According to these epidemiological research studies, long term sleep deprivation is also linked with the development of health problem in people who are initially healthy.

Why Sleep Matters?

Usually, while we are sleeping, our body goes through a healing process; it provides a much needed energy boost to our body in order to effectively carry out hundreds of routine functions.

In order to function properly and sustain healthy energy level throughout the a day, a person needs good sound sleeping of 8 hours at night. Sometimes, our day starts with sluggishness and fighting for energy; usually, it happens due to inadequate sleep that prevents our body from getting sufficient relaxation.

Mental Well-Being

Critical mood disorders including depression, mental distress, stress and anxiety are linked with chronic sleep deprivation. Adequate sleep keeps us focused at work by improving mental clarity and reducing stress level. As per a study, mental exhaustion, sadness and depression are correlated with people getting less than 4 ½ hours of sleep per night.

Diabetes Prevention

Research studies point out to a strong connection between development of diabetes and getting less than 5 hours of sleep. It increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by adversely affecting the way our body utilises glucose.

Immune Boost & Sex Drive

Adequate sleep improves our body’s immune strength and saves us from health problems associated with a weakened immune state. Lower libido is common among men and women not getting enough sleep at night. Sleep apnoea in men is associated with lower libido due to lower testosterone levels.

Healthy Heart

As per research studies, if a person is suffering from hypertension, even one night of sleep deprivation leads to increased blood pressure the following day. Poor sleeping pattern is well known to be associated with stroke, increases blood pressure, and the development of many cardiovascular diseases including coronary heart disease. Adequate sleep improves our cardiovascular health and helps in reducing high blood pressure.

Healthy Weight Loss

Sleep promotes natural weight loss. In truth, sleep deprivation means putting on more and more weight. If you are sleeping less than 7 hours, it increases your chances of gaining more weight.

Increased Life Expectancy

It is not surprising that sleep deprivation is associated with lower life expectancy. Epidemiological studies narrate that sleeping 5 hours or less at night increases mortality risk by 15 percent.

So what’s you are going to pick? Heart disease, obesity, diabetes, shortened life, or a soothing, relaxed sleep at night?

 

References:

NHS. Why lack of sleep is bad for your health. NHS, UK. 2018. [Online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/why-lack-of-sleep-is-bad-for-your-health/ [Accessed 5 March 2019]

Harvard Medical School. Sleep and disease risk. 2007. [Online] Available at: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-and-disease-risk [Accessed 5 March 2019]

NIH. Sleep deprivation. NIH. 2016. [Online] Available at: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/sleep/conditioninfo/sleep-deprivation [Accessed 5 March 2019]

Neurocore. How sleep affects mental health. Neurocore. 2018. [Online] Available at: https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/how-sleep-affects-mental-health [Accessed 5 March 2019]

 

The most innovative of changes to healthcare is the ability to personalize one’s care to their individual medical and personal needs. This new paradigm in medicine uses smart technologies and patient participation to prevent and treat disease. Personalized healthcare works by being able to tailor treatment and care that takes into account not just patient symptoms but also their genomics or genetic profile, brain circuitry, family dynamics, cultural and environmental exposures. Analysis of this data enables the doctor or nurse to understand the patient’s unique characteristics and develop prevention strategies based on individual risk profiles.

Personalised medicine is an evolving practice which has become increasingly popular in the past two decades owing to its ability to streamline care. Specifically, it is being introduced into routine clinical practice and becoming a part of cancer prevention, diagnosis and prognosis. Within therapeutics it focuses on molecular targeting, increasing efficacy and decreasing toxicity.  One the biggest barriers to developing personalized medicine are the cost of resources, the complexity of developing an acceptable system for sharing genomic data and translating data into clinical practice. For personalized medicine to expand and become a part of future of medicine then long strides need to be made to provide training to healthcare professionals1.  More recently, this form of personalized healthcare has been advocated to be included into educational curriculum for primary care providers. It has even insisted that doctors familiarize themselves with the unique mental, social and emotional factors of a patient that influence their health condition2.

Integrated Medicine has been referred to as a form of personalized medicine. Both put the individual at the centre of healthcare. It allows for medicine to be viewed as a philosophy, through an understanding of the patient.  This promotes the likelihood that your doctor will see you as a whole person – thoughts, feelings, mental state included – and not just another prescription to write. Integrated medicine is especially beneficial to the patient because it allows you to have a say in your treatment and be educated on the actual decisions your doctors are making. It promotes a compassionate care environment where the patient feels heard by their health provider, which ultimately helps balance the feeling of power disparities between patient and doctor.

A healthy doctor-patient relationship is a promising option for the future of healthcare. It has the ability to create a unique dialogue that could change the way doctors care for patients for the better. Personalised medicine should be seen as a movement that encompasses wider medicine and healthcare. It must be based on cohesive, tight collaboration between the patient, medical professionals, researchers, scientists and social scientists3.

 

References

  1. Rehm HL. Evolving health care through personal genomics. Nat Rev Genet. 2017;18(4):259–67. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28138143
  2. Brooks AJ, Koithan MS, Lopez AM, Klatt M, Lee JK, Goldblatt E, Sandvold I, Lebensohn P. Incorporating integrative healthcare into interprofessional education: What do primary care training programs need? J Interprof Edu & Prac. 2019;14:6–12. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405452617301635
  3. Pavelić, K. , Martinović, T. and Kraljević Pavelić, S. (2015), Do we understand the personalized medicine paradigm?. EMBO rep. 2015; 16: 133-136. doi:10.15252/embr.201439609

Have you recently felt struggling to organize your thoughts? Do you often forget to complete important tasks at work? Our thoughts and emotions are dictated by the brain. Memory is the most important factor to succeed in life. Our memory power and concentration go hand in hand; we think clearly when our brain is in its most optimum state of health. Any form of unbalance in brain functions leads to poor concentration, clouded thinking, and confusion. 

Acupuncture to Optimize Brain Power

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicinal therapy that has been around for more than 3000 years. It consists of inserting tiny, thin needles into specific points of a body to stimulate and balance the flow of Qi energy, enhance circulation and release useful hormonal and substances in our body.

Disposable sterile needles are used through gentle insertion at specific body points. More than 400+ points are known. Also referred to as “Acupuncture points”, they lie on 14 major pathways known as “meridians”. Each meridian links to individual body systems, including internal organs. Disruption to this flow is seen as blockages or sluggish Qi flow. Qi encompasses spiritual, physical, and emotional energy. Acupuncture acts by unblocking or stimulating these pathways to facilitate these functions.

Do you know that our intellectual thinking is mutually dependent with other physiological systems?. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine Shen (mind and spirit) is our higher self; consciousness, emotions and thoughts. It influences long term memory, encompasses our wisdom and oversees mental and creative abilities. Brain memory is closely linked to the health and performance of the spleen, heart, kidney, and liver. According to the Five Element theory all of them are mutually inter-dependent e.g. spleen nourishes the heart, or disharmony between the heart and kidneys results in insomnia, anxiety and menopausal symptoms.  Emotionally, the spleen controls worry, the heart is responsible for love and happiness, fear is the realm of the kidneys and anger is associated with the liver (1, 2, 3, 4). Acupuncture positively influences the ability to think clearly by improving long term memory.

Acupuncture for Healthier Brain & Improved Concentration

We are living in a world where we are constantly bombarded by numerous forms of interruptions, smells, sounds and sights; these make it extremely difficult to stay focused at any particular time but even more so for higher level functioning.

Medical studies conducted by the Journal of Neural Regeneration Research concluded that acupuncture can help to improve our brain’s cognitive functions. The same study narrated that acupuncture can increase neural plasticity and thus improve overall brain function. It helps to restore body balance and improve mental clarity.

Treating specific acupuncture such as BA HUI – GV 20, YANG BAI – GB 14, YIN TANG – GV 24.5, SHUI GOU – GV 26, THREE MILE POINT – ST 36, HEAVENLY PILLAR – B10, DAN ZHONG – CV 17 etc. aims to improve brain health and memory functions.

Acupuncture & Brain Disorders

Medical studies focused on Alzheimer’s diseases conclude that acupuncture benefits the spatial learning process of the brain, and helps to improve memory functions. It is shown to improve brain glucose metabolism and helps improve subtle memory loss associated with dementia. Enhanced energy metabolism in the brain is imperative for the ability to learn, memorise as well as cognitive ability.

This time-tested, natural treatment therapy is a boon for your mental health. It energizes the body and nourishes your mind to sharpen memory, improve alertness, and boost your brain power.

If you are having problems focusing or have problems with memory or concentration, then acupuncture may be a good alternative treatment for you. Along with acupuncture, good nutrition also helps tremendously to boost brain functions. When it comes to brain health, never underestimate the power of a healthy diet. Wholesome nutrition acts as a brain food that keeps it sharp and healthy.

 

 

Food intolerance is relatively a new concept, and can be difficult to understand. Even most doctors have a poor understanding of it, particularly when there is a mixture of signs and symptoms that do not belong in the same disease group or there is no pathological explanation.

Common complaints such as headaches, bloating and tiredness after eating may be due to food intolerance. Importantly, this is different from food allergy which occurs as an immune reaction that releases the chemical histamine into the tissues, causing itchy rashes, stomach upsets, cough, wheeze and more severe life threatening anaphylaxis symptoms. At times symptoms of  food intolerance can be similar to food allergy reactions, which can cause confusion. A food allergy will normally show up on allergy tests, however food intolerance may not. For this reason having food allergy tests do not always give the answers that we seek.  One way to look at this is as a spectrum, where food allergy is at the severe end whilst food intolerance is found in the middle with good health at the other end.

In food intolerance substances in food can increase the frequency or severity of existing symptoms or cause new symptoms. This can depend on the amount of the offending food that is eaten. Small amounts may not cause any problems, whilst larger amounts will give rise to troublesome symptoms. The reaction time to an intolerant food varies and since we eat and drink many times a day, sometimes we may get a confused picture of the problem.

Food intolerance adverse reactions may include;

  • General feeling unwell after eating e.g. bloating, heartburn and indigestion.
  • Malaise, tiredness and feeling sleepy.
  • Headaches, arthritis and eczema.
  • Flushing, nausea and bloating.
  • Diarrhoea and/or constipation.
  • Aversion for certain foods where the person not only dislikes the food, but also reacts at the sight or smell of the food. In some this is triggered by emotional association with the food.
  • Underlying anxiety can cause hyperventilation and considerable distress resulting in dizziness, tight chest, blurred vision, unusual body sensations or numbness.
  • Gut upset, weight loss and anaemia.

Food intolerance causes include;

  • Enzyme deficiency e.g. lactose intolerance.
  • Food poisoning: A history of gastroenteritis or food poisoning can leave longer term digestive problems.
  • Food additives: In sensitive people additives used for food preservation, consistency, colour and taste can trigger symptoms e.g. sulphites used to preserve dried fruits and canned goods, and some sweeteners can cause headaches.
  • Certain conditions e.g. irritable bowel syndrome increases the risk of food intolerance.
  • Celiac disease is triggered by eating gluten (found in wheat and other grains). There are some features of food allergy, but symptoms are limited to the digestive system.
  • Continual or recurring stress, or psychological factors.

Diagnosis of food intolerance is based mainly on a detailed history, response to treatment and a continual process of dietary review over a period of time. As explained earlier allergy tests are of little value. The history will help to identify the offending foods or other factors that aggravate symptoms. Often people are able to recognise some of the foods themselves, or by a process of trial and error i.e. by temporarily excluding a suspect food from the diet. Using a food diary to keep a record of what is eaten and any symptoms that may develop during that time is very helpful. Another way is to avoid all suspect foods from the diet until there are no symptoms, followed by a gradual reintroduction of one type of food at a time to see which cause symptoms. In both cases there is a risk of having an inadequate diet, therefore always seek advice from an experienced and knowledgeable medical or health practitioner.

In my experience the use of a combined integrated approach to treat food intolerance offers excellent results. It is important to remember that every treatment plan is individualised to the person, as each person is unique and different in the problems they experience. Additionally, they also vary in their response to treatments. In general following a detailed history every treatment will start with a dietary review, followed by reducing or avoiding the intake of problem foods. Learning to read ingredient lists of processed foods is key to ensuring that the appropriate foods are avoided. Often I find that there is a poor understanding of processed foods and what they may contain. In many cases because of deterioration in health there is food hypersensitivity, where people start to react to non-problem foods and present at my clinic with a very confused picture. Regular acupuncture treatments aimed at restoring healthy body function, by enhancing blood circulation, immune function and flow of Qi (energy), will help calm the body and reduce reactivity to foods. It also eases abdominal cramps, nausea, stress and anxiety. Where necessary multivitamins and supplements are advised to help reduce nutrient deficiencies, alleviate symptoms and in the long-term promote healing of the gut.

References:

  1. Food intolerance (2014). Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) http://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-other-adverse-reactions/food-intolerance
  2. Li JTC, (2016). What’s the difference between a food intolerance and food allergy? http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-allergy/expert-answers/food-allergy/faq-20058538

 

Unfortunately, Acupuncture cannot offer quick fixes. Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) discipline; its origins are in Taoism which is rooted in the natural world offering a view of health in relation to the natural environment.  Many Chinese philosophers were also contemplative, in depth scientists who devoted their life time to observing natural phenomenon. From this they developed a range of philosophical models to describe human body functions and its relationship to health. In this way they expressed their understanding of health using the language of natural forces and cycles.

TCM teaches us that health is a state of harmony between the many biological and energetic forces within our own body. There is no distinction between us as living beings, our mind and our body. When there is a problem or conflict in any then disease manifests itself as pain or other illness. Attainment of good health is a gentle process of balancing these forces. Healing takes place over a period of time.

In a modern technological world where complex tasks have been simplified to an effortless push of a button, people are often disappointed when told that regaining health is not a simple task, nor is it a short term endeavour. In many cases they have been battling with their health for many years whilst receiving medical treatment. Often patients want acupuncture to be a quick-fix without too much effort. It is amusing to think that they have such confidence in acupuncture. That a single or a few treatments will forever rid them of their health problems. Unfortunately, this is not the case although all acupuncturists would love to have such an ability to heal.

Acupuncture and TCM treatment is akin to gardening- building up healthy fertile soil, eliminating pests, growing complementary plants together, adequate water, sun and suitable temperature to grow the best possible crop. Gardening takes time. It takes regular and consistent care over many months before one can reap the harvest. With constant changes in the environment, wind, rain, sun and snow there is a need for steady ongoing care. Similarly, health is not a constant state of being; there is always an ebb and flow which needs to be cared for. The body needs good nutrition to build up resistance and resilience to overcome disease. The mind needs a suitable environment with the necessary stimulation to experience feelings of contentment and happiness. Spiritually, there needs to be a connection within oneself, others and the natural world. This is the catalyst for a person’s self-healing.

Self-healing is true healing, acknowledged by many ancient philosophies and texts. Through the natural rhythm of the universe, humans have an innate ability to self-heal. This ability is masked when the natural balance and self-awareness is lost e.g. when there is unhappiness, mental stresses or a disease state. Acupuncture and TCM treatments aim to return the balance by restoring the smooth flow of qi thus activating self-healing in the body. Unlike medical treatments that only addresses symptoms, acupuncture and TCM treatments also affects the mind, emotions and spiritual self. A strong inner self resides within us which is able to communicate the process of self-healing to the body. Reconnecting to the inner self is key to initiating this process. Acupuncture and TCM can help start this process of reconnection and harmonising.

How long will it take for your garden to grow ?