Alternative Medicine – Cures Not Band Aids

Alternative medicine has come a long way since Patch Adams, MD. first challenged the medical status quo.  You may remember Robin Williams played Patch in the movie called "Patch Adams". 

Today, more than 30 years later, he is not the only one to pose the question, "What is a cure and what is a band aid?" Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Chiropractic, Homeopathy, Massage therapy and other alternative medicine therapies are not yet fully covered by most insurance carriers in the U.S. but times are changing.  

These "Alternative Medicine" therapies are being used everyday by more and more Americans who are finding Acupuncture and Chinese herbs and other therapies are not just band aids.  Around the world, more advanced societies see the value of traditional  Chinese herbs and other healing modalities and depend on herbal remedies rather than artificial drugs.

Sometimes we need a band aid but more often, we what we really need is a cure.

Herbal Sugar Options – Choices You Should Know About

Have you seen the TV ad on sugar?  It says the body can’t tell the difference between cane sugar and corn sugar.  Well if you were ever going to trust a TV commercial, I would not choose this one.  

Want to know what’s safe and what’s dangerous in the sweetener world?  Looking for a natural alternative to satisfy your sweet tooth?

High Fructose corn syrup (HRCS)  is made by processing some of its glucose into fructose to produce a desired level of sweetness. But because of its processing, some brands can contain mercury  a known neurotoxin.  What’s worse, is studies show it suppresses the “full sensation”  causing people to over eat.  Studies in rats proved this theory. 

Fructose comes from the sugar in fruits. .. but it also contains glucose and fiber and other nutrients. 

Today, some 70% of packaged foods contain sugar, most of it the HFCS type.   According to the Journal of the American Medical Association,  sugar and simple carbohydrates like refined grains and HFCS may increase your risk for heart disease and stroke through fat accumulation, metabolic syndrome, obesity, premature aging, and type 2 diabetes.  This is nothing new.  We’ve all heard that sugar is bad for us. 

Here are some better natural choices when it comes to satisfying  that sweet taste you love. 

Stevia is a South American herb that is estimated to be some 150 to 400 times sweeter than sugar.  Coca-Cola is even using it for a few of their low calorie drinks now.  We added a little to our Menopause Relief after 100% of our taste testing women loved it with stevia.  Sometimes Chinese herbs can be just a little off, but with stevia everybody can drink and enjoy Menopause Relief Herb Pack.

Xylitol and Erythritol:   They look like sugar and taste like cane sugar, though some people find that xylitol has a laxative effect. Xylitol was originally isolated from birch sap. Erythritol occurs naturally in fruits and fermented foods.

Inulin:  Isolated from Jerusalem artichoke, it is available as a powder or as artichoke syrup. Inulin is a long-chain polysaccharide that is mostly too long a sugar to absorb into the blood stream.

Lo Han Guo: Made from a Chinese herb.  It’s a fantastic non-glycemic sweetener  It is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat cough and laryngitis and is a common tea in parts of Asia. Because it can be difficult to find and it’s great for my diabetic patients.

Honey (raw, organic) is always the natural sweetener of choice. Look for wild honey because it is lower in free fructose and higher in trace mineral content, especially the richer dark varieties.

Maple syrup:  Love it, always have. As a kid I worked harvesting and cooking the sap.  It’s  the only sustainably-harvested, large-scale, forest sweetener in the world. Maple is one of the richest source of minerals found in any sweetener. Look for organic maple syrup and maple crystals as an ingredient. YUM

Unsulfured, organic sugarcane molasses:  It’s rich in vitamins and minerals and has been purported (like fresh sugar cane) to have “anti-stiffness factors” that break down detrimental calcification.

Coconut palm sugar:  Now available as a sweetener. It is usually heat-processed, so try to find raw coconut palm sugar.





Improve Your Memory with Ginseng – King of All Chinese Herbs

So you want to improve your cognitive performance, or give yourself a little brain boost.  Don't we all need that from time to time. 

Ginseng is often referred to as the King of all Chinese herbs.  Traditional Chinese Medicine has used it for prevention and treatment of many diseases and as a general health elixir and performance enhancer for several millennia,.

A group of researchers in the UK decided to study the effects of Ginseng in Best gingsenghealthy young adults.   This study proved this Chinese herb can improve working memory,  improve the speed of performing mental arithmetic and improve reaction times. But the findings are both dose dependent and dependent on the active ingredients in the extract used.  The known active ingredient in ginseng are specific saponins known as ginsenosides.  The extract used in this study was standardized to 4% total ginsenosides at a 400 mg dose once daily.  

What I like about this study is it was randomized, placebo controlled, and double blind. (neither researchers or participants knew which were taking the ginseng).  These are the best kinds of studies to trust the results. Although there are thousands of studies on Chinese herbs and specifically panax ginseng,  this study was the first to include a comprehensive assessment of working memory.   The authors concluded it was the 400 mg dose that made the biggest difference.  This study was conducted for 8 days, and most likely not long enough to see a chronic effect.  

If you are looking to purchase ginseng there are many varieties on the market.  The difficulty is knowing which brand to trust and which brand actually has effective properties. Does the brand you purchase have a minimum 4% total ginsenosides?   We understand the confusion and frustration of not knowing if and when an herbal product is truly worth the cost. 

Because we have a connection to an excellent source, and customers keep asking for it, we have decided to include ginseng in our store.  Our Panax ginseng is tested for impurities and active properties with both TLC and HPLC.  It is the same product used throughout hospitals in China.  It is the same product which Japanese businessmen seek to purchase, simply because they can afford it.   We buy direct so you receive both a quality product sold to herbalist and Acupuncturists, at a fair market price.  Our herbal granules can be mixed in warm water to drink as a tea or mix into your favorite smoothie drink.  You can also place a small amount of granules on your tongue and swallow with water.  Either way you will experience the power and health benefits of ginseng.

We guarantee all our products or your money back. 

You can read the study mentioned above, here:

The Best Foods and Herbs For Fighting Breast Cancer

Best Food and Herbs to Help Your Breast Cancer FightSince October is Breast Cancer Awareness month I wanted to post a few tips on the best foods and herbs for breast cancer patients.  Really everyone should eat the foods on this list.  But if you or a friend are in the midst of this horrible disease the Chinese herbs mentioned may be especially beneficial.  Celeb’s like Sheryl Crow used diet, herbs and acupuncture during her bout with breast cancer, and much was written about simply because of her celebrity status.  Why it takes a celeb to bring this info front and center I’m not sure.

Preventing cancer in the first place should be our goal, so incorporating these foods and herbs into your daily diet is always a good idea.

The Best Herbs for Breast Cancer

Herbs for breast cancer often includes herbs that help relieve symptoms associated with radiation and chemotherapy treatments. These symptoms include nausea, vomiting, mucositis (inflammation of the mucous membranes of the digestive tract), and fatigue.

An important review by the internationally known Cochran Library included 542 breast cancer patients undergoing or having recently undergone chemotherapy.  The seven studies they reviewed  found that Chinese herbs offer relief of symptoms and enhance the immune system. “The results suggest that using Chinese herbs in conjunction with chemotherapy or Chinese medicinal herbs alone may be beneficial in terms of improvement in marrow suppression and immune system, and may improve overall state of quality of life”

Ginger is the main Chinese herb recommended to relieve nausea. Some herbs are used because they are known to have some anti-cancer properties. These include red clover, ashwagandha and curcumin.  

The Best Foods for Breast Cancer

Broccoli sprouts and other members of the Brassica family such as kale, chard, turnips and bok choy have been found to be beneficial foods for breast cancer patients.  Flax seed is an absolute must.   Flax is a great source of alphalinolenic acid, which is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found in plants and has essentially the best anti-cancer properties.  Chia seeds are a great source of fiber and omega-3s.

Don’t forget tomatoes.  They are high in lycopene, a proven cancer prevention compound according to the Univ. of Michigan. Lycopene is an antioxidant that is structurally similar to beta-carotene.

Dark leafy vegetables (dandelion greens, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, argula)  and yellow orange fruits (papaya, mango) are good natural sources of beta carotene.  Beta-carotene is also called pro-vitamin A is a proven cancer fighter.

Eat well and be well!

Mayo Clinic’s New Book and Thoughts on Disease “PREVENTION”

best natural sleeping aidsThe top 20 health issues are all discussed in the Mayo Clinic’s new book on Alternative Medicine.   The author, Dr. Bauer, details dozens of natural therapies that have worked safely.   Dr. Bauer asserts that “an opportunity has risen that may hold the promise of a new paradigm for better health.”

Firstly:  “The best way to manage an illness is to prevent it from happening in the first place” This is one reason there has been explosive growth in the field of alternative medicine. People are looking for more “natural” or “holistic” ways to maintain good health!!

Secondly:   By combining the best of complementary and conventional health care practices to meet your individual needs, you’ll be practicing integrative medicine.

Sounds simple enough to me!!

Start with reducing stress and get a good nights sleep.  Stanford University recognizes the importance of these two factors.  They are currently recruiting women  for a sleep study, to learn how lack of sleep and too much stress may be linked to breast cancer and breast cancer survival.

You may be surprised that Mayo Clinic now urges you and your doctor to consider yoga, garlic, acupuncture, dietary supplements and other natural therapies. The record is clear. Many of these alternative therapies can help you achieve reduced arthritis pain, healthier coronary arteries, improved diabetes management, better memory function and more.

So find some local fitness classes, get a group of friends together and walk,  go to your local health food store and stock up on quality herbal supplements, there is no excuse. 

Alternative Medicine is “Preventative Health Care” and the new mantra is:

“What’s alternative today will be conventional tomorrow.”


Supplementing Cancer Treatments with Traditional Chinese Medicine

It seems inevitable that each week I hear of a new cancer diagnosis, from a friend, patient or acquaintance.  What is going on?  Does everyone get some type of cancer just because they are aging?  Cancer seems to have morphed into more a chronic disease today rather than an automatic death sentence, but too many people are catching this bug. Thankfully, we have a plethora of alternative choices to accompany Western medical treatments.   Acupuncture is quickly becoming one of the most readily accepted complementary therapies to relieve the side-effects of very toxic treatments and build back our natural immune systems.

An interesting  survey done on Hong Kong cancer patients studied how they combined Traditional Chinese Medicine  (TCM) with the Western treatment they were undergoing. A colleague of mine Jennifer Dubowsky, L.Ac. had this to say about the study.

Data was collected from almost 800 cancer patients in Hong Kong. Of those, 42.9% used Western medicine practices for cancer treatment exclusively. The remaining 57.1% used at least one form of Chinese Medicine and 5 patients used TCM  exclusively. Interestingly, many of the cancer patients did not tell their doctors that they were using TCM along with the Western treatments. The Chinese patients were not comfortable talking about their preferences, at least with their doctors who are practicing Western medicine. 

 Some of my patients have experienced the same discomfort talking to their Western medical doctors about alternative treatments, but they are becoming fewer and fewer. Today, more physicians are knowledgeable about TCM, many are comfortable and some are actively curious. I believe that patients have led this change and am happy to see us move toward a more integrative approach to health care.

For more information on how Acupuncture can be helpful while undergoing radiation, chemotherapy and other Western treatments check out this post at the NIH  (National Institute of Health – Cancer Institute.

Help, Caffine Is Not The Answer For Menstrual Cramps?

mestrual cramp reliefI want to scream.. and it’s not because I have PMS.    I just saw an ad at this pharmacy promoting its Menstrual Relief / Menstrual Complete product.   Come on, it’s acetaminophen and caffeine packaged in a box of pills with the name “Menstrual Relief”.  The box says it temporary relieves cramps, bloating, fatigue, backache and headache.

Oh,  and it’s “pharmacists recommended”,  in case you were wondering about that! 

Are you serious, this is the best you can do?

Wake up and smell the caffeine.. this not an answer for menstrual cramps. 

Caffeine has diuretic effects, so it may help a little with water weight gain, but I think they add it to give you a little boost of energy so you have the perception of feeling better.

Acetaminophen is as temporary pain reliever most of us are familiar with.  It’s also the number one cause of liver damage.  UCLA, Univ. of Cal. Los Angeles researchers report on acetaminophen is here.  Take a look.

Here’s the CVS brand list of ingredients on the box:

Active Ingredients (in each Caplet): Acetaminophen (500 mg), Caffeine (60 mg), Pyrilamine Maleate (15 mg). Inactive Ingredients: Cellulose, Croscarmellose Sodium, Hypromellose, Magnesium Stearate, Polydextrose, Polyethylene Glycol, Silica Gel, Stearic Acid, Titanium Dioxide, Triacetin.

Included in the product is Titanium Dioxide, which in case you haven’t keep up to date on carcinogenic chemicals, that one is on the list.  But it’s definitely not a chemical you want to ingest. Since it’s an “Inactive Ingredient” according to the label why even add it?  (hint, they need it to help the capsule machines from getting to sticky.)

Polyethylene Glycol, “like all medicines, has side effects”,  according the to FDA. The most common side effects of this chemical are bloating, nausea, rectal irritation, stomach fullness or cramps and vomiting.  This chemical is actually a laxative.  Why not just drink some prune juice if you are looking for a laxative? You’ll certain avoid the side effects.  Additionally, they didn’t disclose the dosage of polyethylene glycol?  “High doses have proven to produce diarrhea and excessive stool frequency”. Here’s the link for more adverse reactions.

Somebody please tell them that Chinese Medicine has been treating women’s cramps for centuries. Natural Chinese herbs work incredibly well for menstrual cramps and PMS. Generations of people have been using herbs and the studies  show proven benefits.  Don’t poison your body with chemicals when all you’re looking for is a little relief.

Med Students Say They Can Benefit From CAM

CAM therapies include Chinese herbs, Chinese Medicine both of which help insomnia and give PMS ReliefAnother study, I found this one most encouraging. A survey of 1784 current U.S. medical students from around the country said knowledge of Complementary and Alternative Medicine could help them as Western doctors do a better job. (51% of U.S. medical schools participated). The survey’s overall objectives were to discover how many future doctors are using Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies and  which therapies and to  assess medical students’ attitudes toward CAM. CAM therapies include, Acupuncture, herbal medicine, yoga, massage and other non-traditional healing modalities.
There is certainly a need for emerging physicians to integrate Complementary and Integrative Medicine into their medical practices. Medical schools are recognizing this and have taken steps at restructuring their curriculum to incorporate CAM educational opportunities. It’s been my privilege to be personally involved with one such school, the USC Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles  when they host their CAM Health Care day each year.
The Keck School  invites a few local Alternative Medicine practitioners from various fields to speak in the classrooms of  their first year medical students. Being an  Acupuncturist I spoke about Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese herbal medicine.   I found the  students had an incredible interest in learning more about Chinese medicine and were extremely open minded and had great questions.  However, when I asked how many of them had ever gone to an Acupuncturist only about 20% said they had and not surprisingly they were most often the students from Asian decent.   I’m looking forward to getting more feedback from the students at this years CAM day to be held in March.  I’ll keep you posted, it’s always an enjoyable afternoon.
Adequately preparing our future doctors is a daunting task, but I do believe our medical institutions are on the right track.  The next generation of  doctors are already telling us that one day soon, CAM will be more than peripheral medicine, it will be main stream.

The findings were published online Jan. 20, 2010  in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Real Definition

Real definition of Chinese herbal medicine sleep aids
   What is the real definition today of Alternative Medicine?  
   25 years ago it was TM.
    20 years ago it was Chiropractors.
    15 years ago Ayurvedic Medicine and Yoga.
      10 years ago it was Acupuncture.
        5 years ago it was Chinese herbal medicine and Homeopathy and now?  The best      definition may just be all of the above plus: Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Spiritual Healing, Qi Gong and Tai Chi, massage, raw food diets and just about anything else you can imagine.

Today the different possible ways to find health and wellness are as creative and as they are unconventional. The U.S. Government funded National Institute of Health is spending millions of dollars every year funding studies on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, so they must believe the tides are shifting from our “conventional medicine”.  
Why are the tides changing you ask? Alternative medicines focus on the whole person not just the disease symptoms. People are becoming mistrustful of  pharmaceutical companies as reports surface on the inherent dangers and adverse effects of  prescription drugs along with the increased cost.  Thirty years since the war on cancer was declared, no cure is in site.  People are turning their hope for cures and better health to Alternative Medicines where practitioners spend time with their patients and often include help with the emotional trauma of their disease. Something our conventional medicine can no longer afford to offer in a medical system based on insurance reimbursements and medicare funding.
As this tide changes we also find a return to our roots. Quite literally roots, barks, berries, leaves and all parts of nature are part of the new "alternative" health trends. We can now find just about any plant/herb in a bottle and on a store shelf.   Health food stores are popping up even in rural America. Costco sells row upon row of health supplements and vitamins. Herbal medicine is come back in vogue and is the trend rather than the exception.
This new definition of what is alternative is changing as we speak. Although we may not have a clear definition of Alternative Medicine it is becoming anything but alternative.

Use it, Don’t Lose it! Tai Chi benefits Parkinson’s

Chinese Medicine and Tai Chi go hand in hand. Both can help you get a good nights sleep.The Struthers Parkinson’s Center in Minneapolis teaches a form of Tai Chi and both The Cleveland Clinic and the Stanford School of Medicine recommend Tai Chi for Parkinson’s sufferers.  This healing art, or should I say Chinese medicine, developed over a 1000 years ago are a series of slow, flowing movements that can help maintain flexibility, balance and coordination.
I enjoy it because Tai Chi requires you to combine mental poise and concentration into movement.  Tai Chi movements rotate the human body nearly all possible ways the body can move.  In fact, it is one of the most coordination enhancing exercises.  “Use it or Lose it”, that’s the way it goes. What better way prevent the debilitating loss of movement from a gradually progressive disease such as Parkinson’s.  Tai Chi helps can benefit not only Parkinson’s sufferers but people dealing with high blood pressure and stress related diseases.
A while back I wrote about the benefits of Tai Chi for with those with tinnitus and dizziness disorders.   Doctors are not yet informed on all the benefits of Tai Chi but give it another decade or so and I’m convinced we’ll see doctors write prescribing that say “ Start a Tai Chi Class ASAP & practice on your own daily”.   But can we afford to wait that long for our medical practitioners to wake up and smell the roses? In the meantime millions of people lose out on the benefits of this ancient Chinese medicine practice.
Additionally, Tai Chi has been a proven benefit in University studies for reducing falls. This would be a huge cost saving to Medicare  since the 6th leading cause of death of seniors in the U.S. are complication of falling. The most astonishing part of this equation is there is really no downside.
From all the research that has been done, Tai Chi has no negative side effects. Tai Chi classes are not a deductible medical expense, yet.  Even though any rational person could make the argument for its’ cost savings effects for health insurance companies. But don’t let that stop you.
With the beginning of a new year, it’s time the West gain an insight into Chinese medicine and as a society we begin incorporating self-healing techniques into our daily lives.  A Tai Chi class is the right place to start.

US Navy and Marine Corps personnel use Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

acupuncture at A heart felt thank you to all our troops oversees who will miss their families this Thanksgiving. We salute you and say God Bless.  
In recent years, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has shown an increasing presence in the US health care system as well as in Canada, Australia, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.   The number of visits to practitioners of alternative therapies and total expenditures have  increased, rivaling or exceeding visits and expenditures for conventional medical care.  A study done on the use of CAM by the US military was consistent with patterns in the US civilian populations. 37% of a healthy US Navy and Marine Corps population who participated in this study  reported the use of at least one CAM treatment in the previous 12 months.
While CAM therapies such as chiropractic care have been a part of the military health care system for over a decade,  it is important to understand CAM treatments so that guidelines may be created for personnel who choose to use any of the diverse methods of treatment. Several treatments were consistently reported together; almost 55% of individuals who used acupuncture also used massage; 67% of individuals who used hypnosis also used relaxation, and 78% of individuals who used homeopathy also used herbal therapy.
The study results suggests that people more likely to use some form of CAM are women ages 25–49 years, White, educated, and middle economic class. Officers were 50% more likely to report CAM use than were enlisted personnel  Those who reported moderate to severe body pain were nearly twice as likely to report CAM use in comparison with those with none or very mild body pain Among the most commonly reported CAM therapies in civilian populations are chiropractic care, herbal medicine, relaxation therapy, and massage.
As the use of complementary and alternative medicine becomes more widespread, the DoD Force Health Protection program seeks to create a military force fully protected from preventable health threats throughout their military service. This includes assessing potential risks or benefits from unconventional medical alternatives and supplementation. For this reason, it is important to begin to understand prevalence of CAM use in active military personnel as well as general beliefs associated with CAM use in this population.
Read entire study here

Herbal Medicine from Four Plants That Fulfil Our Desires

Chinese herbsBotany of Desire

Four common plants, a weed, a flower a root and a fruit.  We think we control them …. but what if they really control us?  They have learned to satisfy our desires.  Look at nature like never before.  Can these plants be considered herbal medicine because they fulfill our desires?

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan.

I only wonder what the millions of other plants we use everyday from Ginseng to all the other Chinese herbs and plant medicinals would say about these four being selected for the program?  How very jealous they must be.