- Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine Are Now Registered Health Professions July 2012
- Acupuncture and Back Pain: The Clinic’s Approach March 2011
- Acupuncture Point Injection Therapy– when to choose it. Nov 2010
- Plantar Fasciitis (Painful Heel)
- Trochanter Bursitis (Hip Pain)
- Achilles Tendon Pain March 2010
- Japanese Style Acupuncture now Available.
- How does Acupuncture help Stress? August 2009
- Kicking the (Smoking) Habit. November 2008
- Treating Scars with Acupuncture: more than just cosmetic benefits.
- Coping with Colic: A Western and Chinese Medicine View. March 2010
- Keeping on Top of Type 2 Diabeties. March 2011
- KCFH’s Chronic Disease Strategy – Start with a Detox January 2011
- What should Fish Oil be used for?
- 10 Tips to Beat Insomnia
- Holistic Surgery
- Immune Tips for the Flu Season
- The Importance of Balancing the body’s pH with diet. August 2008
- Congratulations to Uli Graf: Suncorp Employee Excellence Award winner September 2010
Womens Health and Fertility/Pregnancy
- Acupuncture for Fertility, Prenatal Care and IVF
- Antenatal Care and Acupuncture. May 2009
- Managing Menopause
- Coping with Colic:A Western and Chinese Medicine View. March 2010
- A Bright Future for Natural Medicines: Current Research and Practice in Women Health June 2003
- Inflammation: Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and Alternatives: Nov 2010
- Mobile phones: Guidelines for safer use for children: Nov 2010
- What’s the fuss about fructose making you fat ? March 2010
- March 2010 New Research: Soy Products Increase Survival Rates after Breast Cancer. March 2010
- Are You Confused About the Sunlight/Vitamin D Story? October 2009
- Cholesterol lowering drugs increases risk of falls -The solution could lie with CoQ10. Sept 2009
According to the National Chronic Disease Strategy up to 1/3 of the impact of chronic disease can be attributed to lifestyle factors such as smoking, high alcohol use, physical inactivity, poor diet and excess weight. Addressing these factors either prevents some diseases all-together or improves the management of conditions such as heart disease, stroke and vascular disease, cancer, asthma, diabetes, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. For many people the dilemma is “I know I need to change but how do I get started?” Whether the goal is to maintain current good health and prevent the onset of disease, or to improve disease management, a professionally supervised liver detoxification programme is the ideal starting point.
Why a liver detox? Normal metabolism constantly produces a range of by-products that are toxic to the body if not eliminated. Fortunately one of the many functions of the liver is to neutralize and eliminate these products from the body via the urine or bowel. Specific nutrients are essential for this system to work properly (e.g. some B vitamins and amino acids). Dietary imbalances combined with the additional metabolic load from medications, alcohol, food additives and environmental toxins can overload the natural liver pathways leading to a toxic burden and impaired liver function. Chronic bowel irritation allows for the re-absorption of toxins from the bowel rather than their elimination. This is why a professional detox program focuses on bowel health at the start of a liver detox program. This overload ultimately leads to chronic inflammation which is now known to contribute to cancer, heart disease, depression, diabetes, obesity and many other diseases.
Cleaning up the diet and providing specific nutritional and herbal support returns the bowel and liver to normal function, reduces inflammation and resolves the unwanted symptoms. A well functioning liver aids in normal hormone and blood sugar metabolism resulting in improved energy, well being and weight loss in its own right. Sensitivities reduce and medications can work even better. After six weeks you should be ready to address any remaining specific issues associated with your particular health condition.
Sometimes musculoskeletal injuries just don’t respond adequately to usual care. The repair process seems to stall and a range of different treatments are tried to restart it. We have found saline acupuncture point injection therapy (APIT) to excel in restarting the repair process in these cases. In this technique about 0.5 ml of normal saline is injected up to 7 mm into the relevant acupuncture points. Minimal discomfort is experienced due to the small volume of saline and fine needle used. Achilles tendonitis responds especially well often resolving within 5 treatments. Chronic low back pain (including disc pain), persistent shoulder pain, ankle and other ligament strains and carpal tunnel syndrome also respond well to APIT. This safe drug free approach often helps in cases where a steroid injection is the alternative.
Inflammation underlies almost every process in the body associated with pain. Acute inflammation is part of the repair process and resolves as its associated injury resolves. Chronic inflammation does not lead to repair and is a sign of imbalance. Chronic inflammation is associated with long-term conditions such as arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic neck and back pain, allergies, asthma and autoimmune disease. Chronic inflammation is also associated with conditions without pain and is causally linked with heart disease, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and many cancers. The understanding that inflammation underpins many diseases means that the goal of treating inflammation goes beyond managing pain alone.
For many years the treatment of choice for inflammation has been the NSAIDs such as aspirin, Ibuprofen (eg nurofen advil, brufin), diclofinac (voltaren), naproxen (naprosyn, naprogesic) and celecoxib (celebrex). While these drugs can reduce pain and inflammation, apart from Celebrex they can cause digestive irritation and bleeding as well. These medications are not usually recommended for people with high blood pressure or some other medical conditions. The safety of the NSAIDs is a contentious issue with a recent Danish study showing that common NSAIDs can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases in otherwise healthy people. These effects are dose related leading to the recommendation that the lowest necessary dose should be used. Paracetamol also helps pain and inflammation and does not have the same risks as the NSAIDs. High doses of paracetamol are toxic to the liver though so it is essential to take the recommended dosage only.
Medications are not the only solution to inflammation. Obesity leads to inflammation as can food intolerances, so shedding excess kilos and cleaning up the diet is the first step. Some animal fats also result in inflammation so excess red meat should not be consumed. A pH in the body towards the acidic end of the scale also promotes inflammation – a simple urine test can measure pH and a more alkaline diet can often manage this factor. Acupuncture can reduce inflammation in the body, so along with stimulating repair and treating painful conditions, acupuncture can also help inflammatory and auto-immune conditions. There is much more to acupuncture than just treating pain!
Fish oil is an ideal source of anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids with large doses giving the best results. Both Chinese and western herbs have anti-inflammatory effects without the risks associated with the NSAIDs or paracetamol. Green tea, lycopene (from tomatoes), curcumin (turmeric), ginger, resevatrol (red wine, red and purple grapes), boswellia (frankinsence), sulforaphane (broccoli) and bromelains (from pineapple) all have well established anti-inflammatory properties with some being cancer protective. Natural anti-inflammatory approaches sometimes take longer to work than medications. The reward however for managing inflammation through diet, acupuncture and herbal medicine is a sense of wellbeing derived from addressing the underlying root of inflammation without the risks associated with symptomatic treatment with medications. Our Chinese medicine and naturopathic practitioners can help with individualised advice on managing inflammation.
Love them or hate them mobile phones are an invaluable tool which have progressed from status symbol to everyday essential in less than two decades. The technology behind this revolution is microwave radiation. Apart from radar and ovens, microwaves are used in mobile phones, DECT cordless phones, Bluetooth technology and wireless internet. The increased use of mobile phones has raised the question of safety – can holding microwaves against the head cause brain tumours? The 13 country INTERPHONE study hoped to answer this question. The results released earlier this year showed that there was a slightly increased risk of some types of tumours for people in the highest call time category and longest years of use. Due to the time that the study was conducted (2002-2004) less than 10% of cases had used a mobile phone for 10 years or more and a heavy phone user in the study (30 mins per week) is not considered a heavy user today. Children and young adults were not part of the study either.
Children’s brains keep developing until about age 25 and children’s skulls are thinner than adults so a mobile phone irradiates twice the area of a child’s brain as an adult’s. Safe mobile phone use guidelines for children were released in 2009 by STUK – the Finnish radiation and nuclear authority and in May 2010 by the Australian government:
- Use SMS rather than voice as it keeps the microwaves away from the child’s brain.
- Minimise children’s number of calls and duration.
- Use hands free (not a Bluetooth earpiece) where possible and keep the phone at least few centimetres away from the body.
- Do not use mobile phones in weak fields (in a car, train, tunnel, basement, large distance from mobile tower – when the signal is weak stronger microwaves are used to make the call).
This sounds like good advice for adults as well. Because radiation reduces dramatically with distance, holding a phone even 2 cm away from the body makes a significant difference. For this reason men should think of taking phones out of their pockets and wear them in a belt pouch or manbag. There is no doubt that the use of mobile phones has increased personal safety and security. Understanding how to use the phone safely allows us to get the best of both worlds.
The surgeon’s skill is in removing, repairing or re-plumbing anatomical structures. The surgeon relies on the anaesthetist to keep the patient alive through this procedure. Everyone then hopes and expects the patient to get on with the job of recovering from the anaesthetic and repairing the surgical trauma to their body.
Postoperative recovery will be better, wound healing improved and the ability to resist infection will be best where overall health and function are optimised pre-surgically. The Traditional Chinese Medical model is an ideal model to assess the baseline state of vitality and wellness prior to a surgical procedure, and in the case of elective surgery 3 or 4 weeks of treatment prior to surgery places the body in better condition to cope with recovery.
At the clinic we also like to see people soon after discharge to evaluate their recuperation needs. Sometimes all that is required may be rest, an acupuncture treatment and some herbs to promote healing. In other cases, eg hip replacement or spinal surgery a course of treatment may be recommended integrating massage therapy. Frequently Chinese herbs & acupuncture are used after major surgery such as a hysterectomy with good results. Acupuncture can quickly settle disturbed sleep. This process is designed to optimise recovery and get the client back to their normal routine as quickly as possible.
In the future this wholistic approach to a surgical encounter may become standard. Until then it is necessary to look beyond the “system” to optimise health and surgical outcomes.
A Bright Future for Natural Medicines: Current Research and Practice in Women Health, By Stephen Janz. The Local Bulletin. June 2003
The future of natural medicine is looking very bright. I have just returned from the Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Symposium in Sydney, where researchers, clinicians and university academics presented on developments in the field. Of particular interest was the panel of practitioners reporting on the use of Chinese herbal medicine & acupuncture in three Australian hospitals. The first studies at the new Chinese medicine unit at Liverpool hospital are focussing on dysmenorrhoea (painful periods), endometriosis and menopause. Another Sydney obstetrics hospital has established an acupuncture service where complaints during pregnancy such as sciatica, back pain, carpal tunnel, insomnia, haemorrhoids, restless legs and headaches are effectively helped with acupuncture. This service is noteworthy because these conditions are difficult to treat with the conventional medical approach in pregnancy.
The role of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in fertility was also expanded on, emphasising the important role that acupuncture and CHM has in producing better quality ovum, and better quality and quantity of sperm. A German study was reported on showing a 50% increase in success rates for IVF where acupuncture was used prior to implantation. The University of Adelaide, which last year demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture for morning sickness, is now researching the common practice of inducing labour with acupuncture instead of drugs.
Acupuncture, nutrition and herbal medicines have a major role in women’s health and fertility. Acupuncture has been used for many years to treat conditions like premenstrual syndrome (PMS), period pain, endometriosis and polycystic ovary disease (PCOS). Acupuncture balances the body’s energy resulting in wellbeing, a feeling of vitality and balanced hormones. By regulating the hormone balance fertility is also enhanced. Acupuncture and herbal medicine also enhances male fertility, with increased sperm motility, count and morphology following treatment. Chinese medicine has always recognised that the health of both parents before conception impacts on the health of the child, so it is important to remember the men as well.
It is noteworthy that acupuncture not only helps with natural conception, but leads to an increased pregnancy rate for women undergoing assisted reproductive technology (including IVF) as well. Research conducted both in Australia and overseas consistently shows that women who combine acupuncture with IVF can up to double the success rate of pregnancy. Acupuncture also helps with the stress and other side effects associated with the IVF process.
Acupuncture is beneficial at any time, however it is ideal to commence your antenatal treatment at least 3 months before attempting to conceive. This allows time to identify and treat any nutritional imbalances and treat any pre-existing complaints which might be more difficult to manage once pregnant. Acupuncture can also be used to treat a range of health issues during pregnancy including morning sickness, fluid retention, constipation, fatigue, sinus, haemorrhoids and back pain to name a few. Acupuncture can be used to safely turn a breech baby and can often help to induce a natural labour.
Michelle Blum B Hs (Acu) has a special interest in women’s health and fertility, Michelle should be your first point of contact at the clinic for this type of care.
The Clinic has developed a unique and effective treatment for this common and debilitating condition. Sometimes mistakenly considered a “stone bruise” and overlapping with heal spurs, sufferers typically hobble upon getting out of bed in the morning and experience pain in the heel when they get up from sitting down for a while. The source of the pain is a tear in the plantar fascia (connective tissue under the foot). Conventional management includes using supportive footwear and a stretching programme. Massage to the calf and foot also helps. Some people find orthotics helpful; however none of these approaches typically resolves the complaint completely.
At the clinic we have found good results follow a holistic approach examining posture and low back pathology, combined with specific acupuncture treatment using acupuncture points developed by our clinic director Stephen Janz. This treatment is also effective in most cases of pain from a heel spur as well. Stephen was awarded the best paper on clinical practice at the World Federation of Acupuncture Societies (WFAS) in 2004 for his work on plantar fasciitis, and has taught this approach at several seminars including the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Annual Conference (Sydney) 2008.
Another painful and debilitating condition, trochanter bursitis is typically noticed with disturbed sleep when lying on the side. Walking becomes too painful with pain in the hip often extending down the side of the leg and even to the knee. The greater trochanter area (hip joint) becomes excruciating when touched.
This condition is conventionally treated with stretching and steroid injections, with many sufferers left with chronic pain. After exploring a range of approaches to this complaint, the clinic has found very good results using Biomesotherapy and/or infrared laser therapy. Improvement is usually obvious by the third treatment. At the time of writing we have several clients with a history of long term pain who are no longer troubled by this condition. A number of early cases have been fully resolved. This same approach has also been helpful for the pain associated with mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the hip.
Fish oil is now recommended for many conditions and the list continues to grow. The EPA and DHA abundant in fish oil are beneficial in pregnancy, arthritis, anxiety and depression, along with learning and behaviour problems in children. It helps eczema and dry eyes, benefits the memory and may delay dementia. Fish oil is also recommended for people with heart disease as it reduces blood stickiness and lowers blood fats. Ironically fish is not always an ideal source of fish oil! Polluted oceans have resulted in unsafe levels of mercury in some fish. It is now recommended that pregnant women and children restrict their fish intake depending on the type of fish eaten, and to only consume 2-3 serves a week even of “safe” fish species.
Fish oil is usually most effective in relatively high doses. Innovation in processing has resulted in concentrated products making it easier to take the required dose. For example a typical dose for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or eczema would be 1 teaspoon of the concentred liquid or six of the concentrated capsules which we use at the clinic. This dose is equivalent to 10 regular capsules or a tablespoon of regular fish oil!
To ensure safety in taking the higher doses of fish oil that are effective, KCFH uses only concentrated fish oil supplements that exceed Australian standards. This oil also exceeds quality standards set by the European Union and the Canadian Council for Responsible Nutrition regarding acceptable levels for common contaminants including lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Difficulty getting to sleep, waking during the night or waking too early are the tell-tale signs of insomnia. While everyone can experience brief periods of disturbed sleep, on-going insomnia is a common problem which is linked to depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse. Poor sleep also leads to lethargy, poor concentration and poor memory. It is not always possible to determine exactly why a poor sleep pattern has developed, but there are many things that can help to re-establish normal sleep. The following 10 tips adapted from Sleep Disorders Australia Fact Sheet is the best place to start and can make a real difference.
- Cut out caffeine in the afternoon/evening. Caffeine is a stimulant and can take up to 8 hours to wear off.
- Don’t use cigarettes before bed. Nicotine is also a stimulant and should be avoided if you wake in the night.
- Don’t use alcohol as a sleep aid – it might help to get to sleep but then disturbs sleep.
- Develop a relaxing sleep ritual before bedtime.
- Exercise regularly, but not in the evening.
- Keep the bedroom quiet, dark and comfortable.
- Don’t go to bed overfull or hungry.
- Avoid napping in the day, and go to bed at the same time each night.
- Don’t sleep with pets or children in the bed – their movements can disturb an otherwise peaceful sleep.
- Avoid watching TV, eating and discussing emotional issues in bed.
These ten steps are invaluable to restore a normal sleep cycle. When more help is needed it is reassuring that there are a number of treatments that can improve sleep. Acupuncture can balance the autonomic nervous system and restore sleep. Chinese herbal medicine can be prescribed according to whether a person has difficulty getting to sleep, waking during the night or early waking. Prescribed pharmacy sleep medication has a role for very short term use. Concentrated milk drinks like “Horlicks” contain the sleep promoting substance tryptophan. Some common herbal medicines and the minerals calcium and magnesium when taken at night can have a relaxing effect that aids sleep. Any steps which improve the quality and quantity of sleep improve physical and mental wellbeing. These simple strategies can be the building blocks to a more vital life.
Michelle Blum graduated from the Melbourne College of Natural Medicine in 2002 with a Bachelor of Health Science Acupuncture. Michelle has worked in several women’s health and fertility clinics and is specialising in this area at KCFH.
Michelle also has a special interest in Japanese acupuncture techniques. Japanese techniques place extra emphasis on palpating acupuncture points to find the ideal points for treatment, and is based on the same Chinese medical model which we use in the clinic. This style of acupuncture is especially suitable for sensitive people. Michelle also provides care for general health and musculoskeletal complaints.
By Stephen Janz RN BN BAc Clinic Director August 2010
The flu season is upon us so it is timely to revise the personal measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of winter illness. The basics of good nutrition, adequate rest and exercise, along with effective stress management are always the foundation of good immunity.
Avoid chill air and bare feet on cold floors. Everyone knows that colds and flu are caused by viruses but not everyone gets them. Old wives and Chinese medicine have long understood that some people cannot adapt quickly enough to environmental temperature changes and that this creates an imbalance in their surface immunity making them vulnerable.
Probiotics are critical for anyone who has had a recent course of antibiotics or suffers from ongoing digestive disturbances. Studies consistently show that childhood respiratory illnesses are reduced in children who take probiotics (I don’t mean yoghurt – it is necessary to take enough of the correct strain to get the results). Fresh ginger tea is an excellent daily drink to bolster immunity and is a key Chinese herbal medicine for warming the lungs. Zinc and Vitamin C supports the function of the important immune cells neutrophils and natural killer cells, essential in fighting viral illness. Olive leaf extract is another popular product that anecdotally seems helpful for both prevention and treatment. Echinacea, astragalus, andrographis and ganoderma are commonly used herbs that provide immune support.
Chinese medicine has a range of specific approaches to enhance immunity and treat viral illness depending on the particular case. Acupuncture, often combined with moxibustion (warming selected acupuncture points) is ideal to support immune function and is a popular recuperation treatment for colds, flus, and glandular fever. Cupping (applying suction cups to points – often on the back) is often used in the earliest stage of a cold and can tip the balance in favour of the immune system. Most importantly, remember winter illnesses cannot spread if people don’t spread them. The best place to be when feeling feverish and unwell is resting at home in bed – not sharing it at work. Stress to your children to not share drink bottles, cough into their elbow and not their hand, dispose of tissues properly and wash hands. I recommend that clients keep our cold and flu kit on hand as taking these herbs at the earliest sign of a viral infection or after a chill often stops the illness in its tracks.
Congratulations to Uli Graf: Suncorp Employee Excellence Award winner at the Quest Westside News Business Achievers Awards. Sept 2010
Uli was selected from all of the businesses eligible at the award for the Employee Excellence award. Uli has been with the clinic for over 12 years and has adapted her practice over time to focus on Bowen Therapy, Orthobionomy, and gentle massage techniques suited for all ages. We congratulate Uli on her award.
One of the great benefits of acupuncture is its ability to improve health without taking medication. This is a stand out advantage in treating complaints of pregnancy where both women and doctors are reluctant to take medication when a non-drug alternative is available. Acupuncture can be used to treat morning sickness, heartburn, insomnia, constipation, haemorrhoids, sinus and many other annoying complaints. Remarkably acupuncture can even safely turn a breech baby! Acupuncture is not only for illnesses though, and in the case of pregnancy routine pre-birth treatment has been associated with better and shorter labours and a reduced incidence of medical intervention. Debra Betts, a New Zealand nurse and acupuncturist has extensively studied and published on acupuncture and pregnancy and its use as a pre-labour treatment. In the clinic we follow Debra’s recommendation of a treatment once a week for the last 4 weeks of pregnancy. Of course if the baby is overdue acupuncture can often also help to induce labour. Debra’s website has some great resources for pregnant women and is available at : http://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/.
There are many suspects among the obesity epidemic hitting the USA and Australia. The public health message is that the culprit is fats, and an alternative view is that the problem is carbs. It may yet be that part of the answer lies between the two. Fructose or fruit sugar makes up 50% of table sugar. The other 50% is glucose – the body’s preferred energy source. Fructose is 60% sweeter than glucose, so when a product tastes sweet, you know that fructose is there.
Unfortunately it appears that the body’s appetite and metabolic processes adapted before fructose was in abundance. Eat a glucose rich meal (starches are really just lots of glucose molecules joined together) and an insulin surge will result in a feeling of satisfaction and make you feel full. Eating fats causes the release of cholycystokinin (CCK) which also makes you feel full. By contrast fructose does not stimulate insulin or CCK or make you feel full. Worse still, the body cannot use fructose for energy so the liver converts it straight to fatty acids which circulate around the body causing all of the same problems we blame on dietary fats. What’s more – a high fructose diet keeps the liver busy making fat and can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Our ancestors didn’t have an abundant source of sugar and didn’t have biochemistry degrees either. Eating processed foods defeats the body’s appetite control and metabolic processes. Natural doesn’t automatically mean it’s good. Small quantities of cyanide are a natural metabolite of many fruit seeds, fructose is not healthy in large quantities either. Two pieces of fruit a day is great – fruit juice, dried fruit and soft drink are not. If you have trouble swallowing this story then check out the science by a www.pubmed.com search, or have a read of David Gillespie’s book Sweet Poison.
This exciting research reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 2009;302(22):2437-2443 – available in the clinc) removes the uncertainty around soy products and women’s health. This study was based on over 5000 breast cancer survivors in Shanghai where soy consumption is common. It found that among women with breast cancer, soy food consumption was significantly associated with decreased death and recurrence. The higher the soy intake the better the survival rate.
Previously there were concerns that the hormone -like effect of soy isoflavones may have had a negative effect. The study also reported that soy isoflavone consumption by the US population is about 1-6 mg/day compared with 47 mg/day in the study. So while the western diet would need to change significantly to benefit from the findings of this study, it offers reassurance that consuming soy products is safe for women.
Are You Confused About the Sunlight/Vitamin D Story? by Stephen Janz. The Local Bulletin October 2009
Twenty years ago I saw a neighbour who had just moved from northern Europe walking their weeks old baby in the pram fully exposed to the midday sun. On discussion she said that where she came from it was a major concern for mothers to make sure their children were not deprived of sunlight so they wouldn’t suffer Vitamin D deficiency. I was busy slip slop slapping!
Vitamin D deficiency can result in poor bone density and immune weakness. It is linked to the development of multiple sclerosis, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, heart disease and even cancers. Enough Vitamin D cannot be derived from food; it can only be obtained through direct sunlight on the skin.
So how much sunlight is not enough or too much! It isn’t just the slip slop slapping but the predominantly indoor lifestyle that so many people experience today that reduces our level of vitamin D exposure. People not getting enough sunlight include many elderly people, institutionalised people and dark skinned people (they need more sun exposure than fair skinned people) and office workers.
However melanoma is still a huge risk in Australia and Queensland in particular, and fears of this maybe keeping people out for the sun. Safe sun exposure guidelines vary depending on latitude. The closer to the equator – the more UV and the less sun time needed for adequate vitamin D. NSW Health recommends that being in the sun for 5 to 15 minutes, several times a week will give you enough sunlight to make Vitamin D. People with darker skins need 15 to 45 minutes. Protection from sunlight between 10am and 2pm or when the UV index is 3 or above is still recommended to minimise skin damage. Queensland health has not yet developed firm guidelines regarding this issue but it appears that our higher UV rating means the danger times may be extended beyond 10am to 2pm.
So if you are unable to get that healthy dose of sunlight maybe a vitamin D supplement is for you. The good news is Vitamin D is an inexpensive supplement. If you are still unsure, a blood test can tell you if don’t have enough. Make sure that low Vitamin D levels aren’t dragging you down.
Cholesterol lowering drugs increases risk of falls –The solution could lie with CoQ10 By Stephen Janz. The Local Bulletin September 2009
The commonly prescribed statin drugs used to lower cholesterol have been found to increase the risk of falls in the elderly. Professor Graeme Jones from the Menzies Institute in Tasmania has found that these drugs reduce both muscle reaction time and performance. Common brand names for these drugs include Lipitor, Zocor, Pravacol and Crestor. Unfortunately Professor Jones’ research does not speculate how to manage this risk, and he urges people not to stop their medication but to discuss with their doctor any concerns they might have.
In Tasmania up to 25 percent of people aged over 55 are using statins and similar statistics would be expected locally. According to Stephen Janz, the Clinic Director of Kenmore Center for Health, the insidious muscle weakness and fatigue which often accompanies this class of drug has been found to improve when taking Coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ10). It is well established that statin drugs can reduce the body’s production of the essential nutrient CoQ10 which is involved in energy production and muscle function.
Clinically Janz has found that daily supplementation of about 150 mg of quality CoQ10 often leads to an increase in energy and wellbeing for people on statins. He says not everyone feels a difference, suggesting that not everyone is affected by statins in the same way. These findings are confirmed by peer reviewed research that recommends a trial of CoQ10 for people on statins to see if they will benefit from it. As always consult your doctor, pharmacist or preferred health professional first to ensure that this supplement is suitable for you. References : http://www.menzies.utas.edu.au/article.php?Doo=ContentView&id=993 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17560286?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=1&log$=relatedreviews&logdbfrom=pubmed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17482884?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=1&log$=relatedreviews&logdbfrom=pubmed
There are many tools that can be used to help with stress management. Massage, exercise, meditation, counselling and herbal medicines can all play important roles. I am often asked how acupuncture can help with stress. The role of acupuncture can best be understood by talking about the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
The ANS regulates the myriad of body functions that occur without conscious control including heart rate, digestion, breathing rate, salivation, perspiration, diameter of the pupils, urination, and sexual arousal. The role of the ANS can be simply explained as allowing the internal environment of the body to adapt to external factors. These factors can be physical such as postural strain, noise, and weather changes or emotional factors such as work and personal relationships. All of these factors are constantly changing and therefore require dynamic, appropriate responses. A stressed person no longer makes appropriate responses and their ANS no longer adapts in a balanced way leading to the cascade of symptoms we associate with stress.
Acupuncture is a powerful ANS regulator. When provided in a suitable setting the pins have a strong relaxing effect which follows on well after treatment, causing changes for up to three days afterwards. This helps to explain how acupuncture can help with insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, moods swings, and mild depression. In addition to traditional body points ear acupuncture can also be used which works directly on the ANS via cranial nerves.
The goal of effective treatment is to bring the body down from an ever escalating baseline of vigilance allowing for relaxation, wellbeing, reduced irritability and better decision making capacity. The drug-free nature of acupuncture means that it can be used on its own or freely in combination with other therapy such as prescribed medication or herbal medicine.
Anyone who has given up smoking (and most smokers have given up at least once), knows that smoking can be a particularly challenging habit to change. Testimony to this is that in a working age population of 14.2 million, Australia still has 3 million people (21%) who smoke every day. As any ex smoker will tell you though, quitting smoking leads to a new lease on life, and saves a lot of money. Many strategies are available to help give up smoking. There are nicotine patches and gum, acupuncture, the prescription medication zyban, the governments quit campaign, willpower and more.
At Kenmore Centre for Health we have developed a multifaceted programme incorporating acupuncture to give up smoking. Acupuncture is well known to help with anxiety, stress and depression, and has been researched and used internationally as part of drug and alcohol detox programmes. We use both laser and conventional acupuncture to ease withdrawals and manage stress. Herbs and EFT may also be used depending on circumstances. An initial course of 4 treatments 3 days apart is typically effective to help people towards being a non smoker. The clinic also helps with other stress management and detoxification strategies which are essential for long term success and wellbeing.
Animals and plants require the correct pH (acid/alkali balance) to thrive. Swimming pools are a familiar example where algae can be suppressed or their growth encouraged depending on the pH or “balance” of the water. The human body has its own mechanisms which attempt to maintain its pH within the narrow range necessary for health. Common dietary habits can result in the body maintaining a slightly more acidic pH than the ideal for optimum health.
A slightly acidic pH leads to increased viscosity of the intercellular matrix, and creates a barrier to the efficient exchange of nutrients, wastes and oxygen between the cells and the circulation. While not life threatening, this state encourages inflammation, feeling sluggish and aggravates conditions which have an inflammatory element such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity. Osteoporosis is also aggravated by an acidic pH as the body can mobilize calcium from the bones to balance excess acid.
So how do we become too acid? Mostly it is due to the consumption of too many acid forming foods, such as meat, sugar, dairy, tea, coffee, soft drinks and refined carbohydrates such as white flour, white rice and pastas. Alkaline foods are generally vegetables, fruit, and some nuts and grains. It is recommended that our diet be 80% alkaline foods and 20% acid foods. Dehydration is also a major cause of an acid environment, our bodies need clean water to function properly, and maintain the PH.
The body’s PH can be measured by a simple urine or saliva test and if found to be acidic then a correcting diet can be prescribed, and if necessary some alkalizing supplements.
Treating Scars with Acupuncture: more than just cosmetic benefits. By Stephen Janz. The Local Bulletin
A scar is the tissue loss resulting from an injury or surgery. Deep or large scars can result in pain, poor flexibility and may be cosmetically unattractive. Scars are three-dimensional and can bind to and restrict deeper tissues.
Chinese medicine understands that scars disrupt the flow of the body’s energy and can cause new problems not related to the surgery or trauma responsible for the scar. In some cases the scar “blocks” the flow of energy resulting in pain, discolouration and an uneven appearance. Alternatively, the scar can “leak” energy out of the body resulting in diverse symptoms such as fatigue (experienced well after the usual post surgery fatigue), or a newfound reactivity to foods or chemicals that used to be tolerated. This is why scars are considered to be an “obstacle” to treatment, and should be considered when a person is not responding to therapy that is usually effective for the condition.
Acupuncture can have a dramatic effect on both the blockage and leakage type of abnormalities. Several acupuncture pins are painlessly placed at key points around the scar. Treatment is usually weekly for several sessions. Visible changes are usually obvious within a couple of treatments with scars typically improving in flexibility and evening out in colour. Some scars require only a couple of treatments, others more. Ear acupuncture can be used where the scar is internal or difficult to access.
All scars should routinely be assessed and treated by an Acupuncturist whether they are caesarean scars, scars following cancer surgery or from an accident. There is no need to wait for obvious problems to occur. Improvement can even occur in scars that have been established for 20 years or more.
Colic is one of those conditions in babies which is no easier to deal with just because it is common. The cause of crying bouts which can last for 3 hours or more and typically occurs from age 2 to 16 weeks is officially unknown, however many aggravating factors have been identified.
Top of the list for breast fed babies are foods in the mother’s diet. A baby’s digestive and immune systems are very immature at birth and some babies just can’t cope with some substances. Look out for cow’s milk, cauliflower, broccoli, chocolate, and onions. Chemicals such as caffeine and nicotine are also implicated. For a bottle fed baby choose a hydrolysed cow’s milk formula. The hydrolysation process breaks the difficult to digest casein protein in cow’s milk into digestible components. Even then it may be necessary to try a few different products until a compatible formula is found.
In Chinese medicine this condition is considered to be a “Ji” or accumulation disorder. The immature digestive system cannot cope with the volume or quality of food leading to an accumulation in the bowels and pain. This condition is made worse by overfeeding – a situation which can arise if every cry is treated as a hungry cry. Treatment is often simple. A series of acupuncture points are quickly stimulated with a very fine pin, and other points are treated with laser. Typically the baby has a large bowel motion a couple of days after the treatment and symptoms subside. Usually a couple of treatments and appropriate dietary changes are all that is needed. This same approach is often effective for reflux as well.
A few other factors should always be considered. If the mother has had antibiotics due to mastitis or other infections, then the baby has had antibiotics as well and should be given a suitable baby probiotic. Cow’s milk should always be suspected, especially in reflux. Often adults with dairy intolerance will report how they had reflux as a baby. For further ideas on how to cope with colic look up www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au.
Achilles tendon pain can get in the way of a retiree’s morning walk, stop an athlete’s exercise routine or a social tennis game. In case you are not sure where it is, the achilles tendon is the thick tendon above your heel that connects the calf muscle to the foot. This painful condition starts out with achilles stiffness in the morning and progresses to temporary pain with exercise, to pain all day and eventually to a lump around the bottom of the tendon.
We have been treating midpoint achilles tendon pain at Kenmore Centre for Health using exercise therapy, massage, acupuncture and infrared laser for many years. More recently we have developed an especially effective treatment for achilles tendon pain (often mistakenly called achilles tendonitis). It involves a short course of saline injections into specific points around the achilles tendon using very fine needles. As saline is used there are none of the risks of a cortisone injection. In many cases as little as five treatments can lead to long term improvement.
For some women menopause is a simple transition to a new stage of life. For many it is a time when unexpected changes occur which can rob quality of life. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) isn’t for everybody but there are other things that can help. Losing excess weight and ensuring regular exercise tops the list for improving wellbeing and helping the body help itself. For some women alcohol and caffeine are strongly associated with hot flushes. Soy products contain the plant hormone like substances called isoflavones which can help symptoms.
A properly supervised detoxification programme is often effective at triggering weight loss and improving hormone metabolism – the result is fewer symptoms. When more help is needed acupuncture and herbal medicines are often very effective in helping with irritability, mood swings, fatigue, insomnia and hot flushes. There is no one miracle herb or nutrient for treating menopausal symptoms, and best results come from individualising herbal formula to each person.
Acupuncture is well known for treating painful conditions. Many people are still under the misunderstanding that acupuncture treats the symptom of pain only. This misunderstanding is linked to early research showing how acupuncture increased the body’s endorphins – natural pain killing chemicals. While it’s great to treat the symptom of pain such an effect quickly wears off. Only 30% of what acupuncture does is concerned with pain. The main game is stimulating repair of damaged tissue and restoring normal function and this is where acupuncture excels with back pain. More recently confusion surrounds “dry needling” – this is where non-acupuncturists use acupuncture into trigger points believing that trigger points are the main basis of musculoskeletal pain. Apart from often being a painful technique and frequently resulting in post-treatment pain as well – this simplistic “dry-needling” approach does not activate the powerful repair mechanisms built into the body in the way that regular acupuncture can.
In the clinic we first use a soft-tissue screening examination to identify if we are dealing with mostly muscle spasm, joint involvement or mainly a disc and nerve problem. Depending on our assessment we may use some soft tissue massage techniques to free up tight muscle, a postural balancing approach to correct overcompensation which can maintain pain, and then acupuncture. Acupuncture can be used over the painful area, in the arms and legs or in the ears depending upon the particular case. Treatment is individualised rather than standardised because even in two people with the same type of pain the individual sensitivity and response to treatment can require two different approaches. Anti-inflammatory and pain killing medications can play a useful role in acute pain because in most cases good sleep and maintaining mobility leads to the best recovery. Natural anti-inflammatory herbs are available for those who find pharmacy medicine unsuitable. Acupuncture has its full effect over 3 days so except in the most severe cases treatment is no closer than 3 days apart. Treating too often can aggravate rather than improve back pain. We rarely use exercise therapy in acute pain for the same reason, reserving exercise for the rehabilitation phase with a view to preventing recurrence. For those with a chronic, degenerative or recurrent condition preventive maintenance with massage and or acupuncture every four to six weeks is often enough to prevent recurrence and maintain a strong back. The clinics holistic strategy is typically effective and getting people over their back pain. For stubborn cases Acupuncture Point Injection Therapy (APIT) can often make the difference. For more information on APIT see our website.
The incidence of type 2 diabetes is rapidly increasing in Australia. Type 2 diabetes typically occurs in overweight people over the age of 40, frequently with a family history of diabetes. Type 2 diabetics have high blood sugar levels which, if unmanaged, lead to a range of serious health problems affecting the eyes, kidneys, nerves and circulation. The mainstay of management is a balanced diet, losing excess weight and maintaining regular exercise. Medication is used when addressing these lifestyle factors is inadequate to achieve healthy blood sugar levels.
Unlike type 1 diabetes which usually shows up in younger people insulin is not usually needed. Managing alcohol consumption and stopping smoking are critical to minimising complications. Type 2 diabetes is another of the so called lifestyle diseases because as you can see the disease can often be prevented or managed by lifestyle factors alone. Because diabetes can affect many systems it is usual to be under the care of a GP, optometrist, dietician and podiatrist. Complementary medicine can play a useful role both for those not yet on medication as well as those who require it.
- A number of strategies can stimulate weight loss in stubborn cases, and once again for many people a professionally supervised liver detox program can kick start the process. Avoiding excess energy rich carbs such as bread and added sugar is often another key.
- Acupuncture has a role with points that are useful in regulating blood sugar as well as points that can improve immune function and circulation.
- Many herbs and nutrients have an effect on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels. Cinnamon and chromium are well known for their effects on blood sugar, and the Chinese herbs Huang Qi, Shu Di Huang and Dan Shen are among herbs often used in treatment.
Because herbs, nutrients and a change in diet can lower blood sugar, it is possible that blood sugar can be lowered too much resulting in hypoglycaemia. For this reason it is important to be professionally supervised so that the programme is tailored to individual needs. It is better to seek professional care rather than “doing it yourself” and any one of our Chinese medicine or naturopathic team is able assist with a programme.
Since the first of July it has become much easier to find a qualified acupuncturist or Chinese herbalist. These professions are now registered the same as other registered health professions such as doctors, dentists, nurses and physiotherapists. This is a unique event not only because it means a new health profession is registered in Queensland, but also because Chinese medicine is the only complementary medicine included in the national registration scheme. The registration board sets standards which practitioners must meet in order to gain and maintain registration, and also provides the public with the accountability that goes with a robust complaints mechanism should the need arise.
In Queensland it has historically been more common to refer to practitioners as an Acupuncturist and/or Chinese herbalist. With registration both of these practitioners will be registered by the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia as ‘Chinese medicine practitioners’. They will also be registered specifically as an ‘acupuncturist’ and/or ‘Chinese herbal medicine practitioner’ and/or ‘Chinese herbal dispenser’ depending on their qualifications, so look out for these new titles.
Acupuncture & Chinese herbal medicine originated in China over 2000 years ago and was first practised in Australia during the gold rush in the 1860’s. It grew in popularity during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Since then the profession has continued to develop with degree level education now being offered in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, funding for these services by private health insurers, and increasing acceptance and use by the community. There are now three Professors of Chinese medicine in Australian universities and at least six Associate Professors providing a strong foundation for ongoing research. It is this research base which allows practitioners to combine the latest innovations from acupuncture and Chinese medical research with the long established foundation of traditional Chinese medical knowledge. Australia is the first country in the western world to introduce the regulation of Acupuncture & Chinese medicine through registration which indicates the impact that Chinese medicine is having on our health system.
What does registration mean to the local community? Registration makes it easier to identify qualified acupuncturists and Chinese herbal medicine practitioners. To find out if a practitioner is registered by the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia look up the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority website at http://www.ahpra.gov.au/.