Acupuncture As Good As Drugs For Constipation

A large Chinese randomised control study carried out recently found acupuncture as good as drugs for constipation.

Three Different Point Combinations

Researchers tested three different acupuncture point combinations and compared these against the drug Mosapride. 684 patients were randomly assigned to one of the four groups.

Acupuncture As Good As Drugs For Constipation

The acupuncture patients were given 16 sessions over a four week period. In each of the three groups treatment points were stimulated by passing a pulsed electrical current through the needle. This technique allows for increased acupoint stimulation over needle insertion alone.

Outcome

After four weeks all four groups experienced significantly improved bowel movements, but at eight weeks the three acupuncture groups were showing significantly better bowel movements than the drug group. Stool consistency improved equally in all four groups.

Comment

Among the points that were chosen for this study Stomach 37, known as ‘Upper Great Void’ refers to the large bowel. This point, located on the lower leg is known for its ability to regulate the large intestine, and when used in combination with another point used in the study (Large Intestine 11) is said to lubricate the passage of the stool. This point combination was first discussed in a text book (The Spiritual Axis) compiled in the first century BC.

Acupuncture As Good As Drugs For Constipation

For more information on this study click here.

 

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Fine Tuning The Controls: Stress

Patients who book in for acupuncture treatment don’t usually ask for needles – they are much more likely to ask for help with a condition, for example stress. Here we talk about fine tuning the controls: stress.

According to Google, stress is ‘a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances’.

If we look at the potential causes of stress, we will end up with a list as long as our arm. There are usually however contributory factors resulting from the way we perceive the world around us. Inserting needles into acupuncture points to free up stagnation can help to engender a feeling of calmness, creating a break in which real change can take root.

Patients ask what else they can do to help. It is at this point that I will discuss the traffic light approach.

Fine Tuning The Controls: Stress

In this model we are invited to rate the issues that demand our attention according to three labels – full control, partial control and no control. For example, we have no control over the weather, have full control over whether we submit our annual tax return, but are likely to have some control over the final tax bill (depending how we fill in our form).

The Wrong Label

In my experience, stress symptoms seem to point all too often to key tasks and decisions that we have attributed to the wrong label. A feeling of pushing against a brick wall may be just that, trying to change something we have no control over.

So here is my suggestion for you. If you are a habitual list maker why don’t you experiment with labelling each task according to the traffic light system. This technique will free you to focus on those items you have some or full control over and improve your efficiency. If you find this helpful please leave a comment here.

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Fine Tuning The Controls: Stress

See also http://theacupunctureblog.co.uk/pluggerz-good-nights-sleep/

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The Microbiome Diet – Bugs That Count

Modern research shows us that we have more biologically important genetic material in our guts than in our DNA. It also seems that to be healthy we need a wide diversity of these bacteria. So how do we ensure such diversity? According to Professor Tim Spector when interviewed on Radio 4 recently, the answer is to eat as wide a variety of plant material as possible. This is the microbiome diet – bugs that count.

Although each one of us carries a unique mix of bacterial species (the so-called microbiome), it is true that they thrive on fibre – from fruit, vegetables and cereals. The key therefore is to eat well and with variety.

In this article I try to sum up some of the best foods to add into a microbiome friendly diet in order to promote gut bacteria diversity.  [Source:  https://draxe.com/microbiome/]

FOODS TO INCLUDE

Fresh Vegetables

beets, carrots, cruciferous veggies, leafy greens, onions, peas, salad greens, sea vegetables, squash

Whole Pieces Of Fruit

The Microbiome Diet - Bugs That Count

apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, nectarines, oranges, pears, pink grapefruit, plums, pomegranate, red grapefruit, strawberries

Herbs, Spices and Teas

 The Microbiome Diet - Bugs That CountThe Microbiome Diet – Bugs That Count

turmeric, ginger, basil, oregano, thyme, green tea, organic coffee

Probiotic Foods

yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, kvass, cultured veggies

The Microbiome Diet - Bugs That Count

Wild Caught Fish Cage Free Eggs and Grass-Fed/Pasture Raised Meat

The Microbiome Diet - Bugs That Count

Healthy Fats

grass-fed butter, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds

The Microbiome Diet - Bugs That Count

Ancient Grains and legumes/Beans

The Microbiome Diet - Bugs That Count

ansazi beans, adzuki beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, lentils, black rice, amaraneth, buckwheat, quinoa

Red Wine and Dark Chocolate/Cocoa (in moderation)

FOODS TO AVOID

Refined Vegetable Oils

canola, corn, soybean

Refined Carbohydrates and Processed Grain Products

Pasteurized Dairy Products 

(devoid of natural bacteria)

Conventional Meat, Poultry and Eggs

Added Sugars

packaged snacks, breads, condiments, canned items, cereals

Trans Fats/Hydrogenated Fats

packaged/processed products, fried foods

Remember the key to a diverse set of gut bacteria is a diverse diet, as opposed to an exclusion diet.

This is the microbiome diet – bugs that count.

 

 

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The Role Of The Spleen

The use of food as medicine in Chinese culture and the role of the spleen can be dated at least as far back as the  Western Zhou dynasty (11th c BC to 771 BC) where food and beverage hygiene were one of the four specialities a doctor could follow (as well as internal medicine, external medicine and veterinary). The ‘Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine’ describes how

used in the right combinations, everyday food can prevent illness.

The Role Of The Spleen

It is with this in mind that we can view the idea of ‘going on a diet’ with fresh eyes. A quick Google search of the word ‘diet’ defines it as

the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.

 

It may come as a surprise when your acupuncturist starts talking about your spleen as an essential part of your digestive process, after all many people live perfectly well without one. In Chinese medicine the ‘spleen’ is a set of functions involved in the breaking down of food into useful ‘fuel’ and the transporting of it around the body. You may liken the former to the function of a compost heap and the latter to a lorry driver who takes the compost away.

Current dietary advice is to eat 5 portions of fruit/vegetables a day, to cut down on fat and sugar and to reduce ‘bad’ fats. We instinctively know that too much of one thing may be detrimental, but what else can Chinese medicine theory bring to the party?

To delve into this further, let us take the example of chronic diarrhoea, with undigested food passing through the gut. In many such cases there is an underlying spleen weakness. Essentially the breaking down of food is being impaired and the lorry driver is out of control. So how might we address these issues purely through dietary adjustment?

This reveals, in my opinion, some of the essential differences between Western and Eastern dietary practices. In the Eastern model food choices and practices may be advised which reduce the load on the digestion. For example to avoid overeating, especially late at night, and to chew everything well. As the old expression goes

breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince, supper like a pauper

Foods to avoid might include excessively fatty and deep-fried foods, dairy products and raw or chilled foods. But of equal importance are foods which help to strengthen the spleen function. Many of these foods are yellow/orange in nature (which is often said to be the natural colour of the Spleen). Especially helpful examples are:-

apples, apricots, kiwi, lychee, peaches, pineapple, bamboo shoots, spinach, turnip, oats, tomatoes, brown rice, barley chestnuts, walnuts and pumpkin. Spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

These choices are summarised in more detail in the accompanying diagram, but in general the spleen appreciates a freshly prepared range of nourishing foods. If you are in doubt at this stage what to eat, why not try the colour test. Take a look at your dinner plate and look for a balance of the five colours, which are:-

Red (orange), yellow, blue/black (which includes most foods from the sea), green and white (eg onion, garlic).

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Visit The Acupuncture Centre at www.acupuncturepaincentre.co.uk

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Mindfulness and Meditation With Buddhify

How things have changed! The art of meditation, once the realm of hippies and buddhists is now mainstream, rebranded as mindfulness. This is a basically the art of being in the here and now, and is the mental equivalent of going to the gym. Benefits are said to include reduced stress, better focus and improved sleep.

I have been testing a new kid on the block. Buddhify is available for Android and iOS smartphones, and according to its authors :-

“is the most convenient, best value and most beautiful meditation app available today. It is helping people around the world reduce stress, be present & get better sleep in even the most busy of lifestyles. Peace of mind for just the price of a cup of coffee with no hidden or additional costs.”

Mindfulness and Meditation With Buddhify

When you first open up the app’s colourful wheel (see picture), you are confronted with a series of choices based on your current activity. These include going to sleep, working online or eating. For example, ‘waiting around’ brings up 3 meditation options ‘stereo’, ‘curious’ and ‘base’. Ranging from 5 to 11 minutes in length these are audio tracks which will take you through a range of guided lessons based around this scenario. The tracks are thoughtful and relevant to modern living – a lifetime away from the ‘imagine you are in a meadow’ meditations of yesteryear.

According to its authors, Buddhify comprises “over 80 custom made meditations for wherever you are”.

Altogether I found listening to Buddhify a surprisingly pleasant and thought provoking activity. The voices are very pleasant to listen to – both male and female – and not an American accent anywhere! For these reasons I have been recommending Buddhify to some of my stressed acupuncture patients, and the feedback so far has been positive.

Buddhify website

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The Four Pillars of Health

What are the four pillars of health and how can they help us? Dr Rangan Chatterjee, 38, a GP from Oldham, and presenter of the BBC’s ‘Doctor In The House’ series was recently interviewed on the BBC Breakfast TV sofa. He asserted that most GPs these days are too busy to properly investigate complicated medical conditions, and it is therefore much easier to prescribe a pill. As part of his TV experiment Dr Chatterjee was allowed the luxury of spending time with patients in their home environment. As a consequence he was better able to get to the bottom of their medical issues, with some heartwarming outcomes.Four pillars of health

The four pillars he described are:-

  • Eating
  • Moving
  • Sleeping
  • Relaxing

It all sounds too easy, but what can we really learn from this approach? We are bombarded with health messages on a daily basis. Which ones should we really pay attention to? Let us take a look at each pillar in turn.

Nearly every day there is a new story in the media about healthy eating, which frankly can be really confusing. For me the key questions are about how often you eat freshly cooked food? Perhaps convenience wins over quality. Are do you allow adequate time to ‘rest and digest’ at mealtimes?

Have you ever had a conversation with your GP or practice nurse about taking more exercise? What was the outcome? Perhaps you started with good intentions but something more important came along.

four pillars of healthAnd on the topic of rest, the sleep council (http://www.sleepcouncil.org.uk/) notes that ‘nearly half of us are getting just six hours sleep or less a night. And an alarming four out of five people complain of disturbed or inadequate – or ‘toxic’ – sleep’. Go to their website for answers to these and other sleep related issues.

According to an online dictionary, the word relax means ‘to make or become less tense or anxious, to make (a rule or restriction) less strict’. Which rule could you relax? For all you schedulers out there, do you ever pencil in R & R breaks?

Here is a tip to make your four pillars work for you. I like to score each one from one to ten (where ten is perfect), and then write alongside each score one action I can take that will improve my score. Go on and have a go.

Martin Dean is an acupuncturist with over 23 years practice experience who practices in Nottingham. www.acupuncturepaincentre.co.uk

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Why I Love My Job

Patients often pick up that I really enjoy my work. This got me to thinking what it is about the practice of Acupuncture that fires me up.

why I love my jobFirstly I have to say that this ancient approach to wellness didn’t come about overnight. Constant development of ideas by Chinese thinkers and doctors over more than two millenia has given us a wide-ranging system of medicine that rather thoughtfully tries to explain what it is to be human with all our faults. It is about real people’s lives. And such a system naturally requires constant study and updating by the modern practitioner. It also draws to the attention of the acupuncturist – the agent of change –  the need for self-development.

In a week where the daylight coming through the window has begun to take on a warmer hue and the very air sounds different, I am remined how we advanced human beings are still affected by the relentless march of the seasons. As it is without us, so it is within.

The ‘Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine’, much of which predates the birth of Christ, describes in detail how we are affected by seasonal variations, and guides us in working hand-in-hand with nature. I am blessed to be able to pass on some of this wisdom as I understand it. Amongst my patients, farmers are the group most readily able to relate to this concept, with their close association with the land. All too often the solution to seasonal variations in how we feel inside is to turn up the heating, switch the electric lighting on and carry on with our normal routines. The enlightened soul might perhaps modify his/her behaviour according to the specific nature of each season.

So being an acupuncture practitioner isn’t neccesarily an easy job. And patients don’t always get better, or respond according to textbook theory. It would be surprising if they did! But many do and this is a regular reward that never grows dim. In truth attention to detail and careful use of the senses – sight, listening , touch and even smell – can go a long way towards allowing us to better understand each other.

The way of healing is so profound. It is deep as the oceans and boundless as the skies. How many truly know it?

If only we were perfect!

 

 

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Cold Relief Tea

It is that time of year when many of us reach for the lemsip and tissues. Statistically the autumn season is a peak time for respiratory diseases, due it is said to the changes in temperature. It is for this reason that ancient acupuncture texts often associate the lungs with the season of autumn.

Cold relief tea

Beat Those Autumn Sniffles

This recipe uses the principles of traditional Chinese medicine to produce a cold relief tea which drives cold out of the body and ‘releases the exterior’. It may not be an obvious choice of brew but this is just the tonic if you are showing the first shivers of a cold. After drinking the tea I would recommend you cover yourself up and sweat it out.

Please note that this tea is not suitable if you show signs of a high fever.

Ingredients
Fresh ginger 2 teaspoons
Cinammon bark 1 teaspoon
Garlic 1 clove
Spring onion 1
Cayenne pepper 1/4 teaspoon
2 cups water
Simmer the first two ingredients and add the rest before the end. Sweeten if desired. Enjoy!

 

For more information on Chinese food energetics click here.

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Acupuncture Point Xue Hai An Unsung Hero

Acupuncture point Xue Hai (usually referred to as Spleen 10) is surely something of an unsung hero. It is amongst the most commonly used acupuncture points. Located on the inside of the leg just below the knee, its name translates as Sea of Blood. As you would expect it is used for treating disorders of the blood – its manyfold uses in this context include regulating menstruation, benefitting skin disorders (by moistening otherwise dry skin), and treating painful conditions distinguished by stagnant blood.

Acupuncture Point Xue Hai An Unsung Hero

To give an example, painful or irregular periods characterised by large clots can be eased with this point. In effect it promotes smooth circulation and discharge of  menstrual blood.

When combined with other points Xue Hai can also be used to treat blood deficiency (similar to anaemia). Typical symptoms of blood deficiency might include dizziness on standing up, ‘floaters’ in the vision, brittle nails and fatigue. So how does this work? In Chinese medicine, Xue Hai lies on the Spleen channel. This organ/system is responsible for the transformation of ingested food and drink (as a part of the digestive system) into blood. It is for this reason that the provision of acupuncture treatment would normally be accompanied by a proper discussion about diet.

And finally Xue Hai can help skin conditions where internal heat causes so-called ‘heat in the blood’, a characteristic of many skin conditions (for example painful, hot sores).

Is acupuncture Point Xue Hai An Unsung Hero? I will let you be the judge of this. Do you have a favourite acupuncture point?

www.acupuncturepaincentre.co.uk

Call: 07969413158 for an appointment.

 

 

 

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