Chinese and Western Medicine comparison

Do you believe that a person’s disease can be diagnosed simply by feeling the wrist pulse? That puncturing specific sites on the body with needles could possibly cure your chronic backache? Or that mushroom-like herbal medicine can serve as an energy booster or even enhance your immune system?
If you don’t, you’re probably not one of those hundreds of millions of followers of traditional Chinese medicine, an ancient healing system based on nearly five thousand years of research and experiments.

There have been disputes, however, on the worthiness of traditional Chinese medicine and its methods of curing illness as compared to Western medicine.

But in recent years, the effectiveness of Chinese medicine, which covers a wide range of practices including such treatments as herbal medicine, acupuncture, and Tui na massage, has come to be recognized increasingly throughout the world.

In 2003, the World Health Organization published a landmark study entitled “Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials,” in which scientific evidence is cited to support the claim that ancient Chinese medication has proven to be scientifically effective for a total of 28 conditions.

200 years versus 5000

“To Westerners, scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses,” says Chuang Shih-ming, a Chinese medicine doctor based in Taipei City.

“Chinese medicine also takes the same approach,” he argues. “The only difference lies in the fact that Western medicine uses about 200 years of such ‘scientific’ methods of observation and testing of hypotheses to prove its effectiveness, while the Chinese version uses several thousands of years.”

Methodologically, Chinese medicine is also at odds with Western medicine.

Western medicine is analytically based on anatomy of the human body by focusing on medical test results and in particular on numbers, while Chinese medicine is holistic, regarding the human body as an inseparable whole, Chuang says.

Looked at this way, Western medicine and Chinese medicine should thus be referred to as micro- and macro-medical medicine respectively, he notes.

“Unlike the Western belief that says that bacteria and viruses cause disease, Chinese medicine only sees the different symptoms, and we tend to believe in the ability of a human to heal him or herself.”

So Chinese medical treatments are aimed at elevating one’s ability to fight all the syndromes and to help people to regain and maintain balance in their body, he adds.

Clinical diagnosis and treatment

Sitting in the office of his Chinese Medicine Clinic in Taipei’s Tianmu area, Chuang discloses that he was originally a computer programming language major in college, but because of his family background, he later transferred to the study of Chinese medicine.

Chuang goes on to say that clinical diagnosis and treatment in traditional Chinese medicine are mainly based on the yin-yang and the five-element theory involving wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

These theories apply the phenomena and laws of nature to study of the physiological activities and pathological changes in the human body, he notes.

He shows me how a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner diagnoses a certain disease.

Traditional Chinese diagnostics are based on overall observation of human symptoms. A typical Chinese doctor’s diagnostic methods begin by observing (wang), then hearing and smelling (wen) a patient. He then asks about his or her background (wen) before feeling (qie) the person’s wrist pulse.

The pulse-reading component of the touching examination is one of the most important parts of diagnosis, Chuang says.

After taking a patient’s pulse, the doctor will do tongue examination.

The Chinese believe that by reading the condition of one’s tongue, including its color, texture, shape, size, and coating, a practitioner can determine one’s health.

Following all of the above examinations, the doctor will write a prescription which is taken to the front to be filled.

Herbs used in Chinese medicine are derived from plant, animal and mineral substances. Most herbal medicines are plant-derived, such as ginseng and ginger; however, some minerals and animal parts may also be prescribed for use in medication.

In Taiwan and many other parts of the world, herbs often come in formulas that call for a mixture of all kinds of herbal medicines.

In the past these prescriptions were steeped in boiled water to drink, but now they are also made into powder forms which are more convenient for patients to take.

Sometimes the patient may need other treatments for a condition, including acupuncture, Tui na and cupping massage.

Tons of treatments

If you are not afraid of needle and are looking for a faster approach to solve your problem, you can try acupuncture, a technique in which the practitioner inserts fine needles into specific points on the patient’s body.

The intended effect is to increase circulation and balance energy (qi) within the body.

But if you would prefer something less intrusive for your backache or shoulder pain, Tui na is something you should try.

The practitioner may brush, knead, roll and rub the patient’s body, usually on his back and shoulder, to open up the body’s qi and get the energy both along the meridians and in the muscles.

Another thing you can try is cupping: A type of Chinese massage, cupping consists of placing several glass (now usually made of plastic) “cups” or jars on the patient’s body. A match is lit and placed inside the cup and then removed before placing the cup against the skin. As the air in the cup is heated, it expands, and after placing it on the skin it cools down, creating a lower pressure inside the cup that allows the cup to stick to the skin via suction.

Cupping is generally indicated in the treatment of arthritic pain, lower back pain and headaches, and is also very effective for the common cold or coughing.

A global trend

As people begin to realize the effectiveness of TCM and learn the limitations of Western medication, more and more are turning their attention to the practice that has been developed and widely practiced and accepted by Chinese around the world for thousands of years.

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia

A Cochrane Database systematic review has summarised the current evidence for the use of acupuncture in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Nine trials (395 participants) were included in the review. The authors conclude that there is low to moderate-level evidence that, compared with no treatment and standard therapy, acupuncture improves pain and stiffness in people with fibromyalgia. In addition, they found moderate-level evidence that the effect of acupuncture does not differ from sham acupuncture in reducing pain or fatigue, or improving sleep or global well-being. Electro-acupuncture (EA) was found to be better than manual acupuncture (MA) for pain and stiffness reduction and improvement of global well-being, sleep and fatigue. The effect of acupuncture was found to last up to one month, but is not maintained at six months follow-up. (Acupuncture for treating fibromyalgia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 May 31;5:CD007070).

Ed: pain reduction lasting for one month is better than most pain medications!

Hospitals need Complementary Medicine

DANNY ROSE November 17, 2009 – 12:09AM

 

There is a place for complementary therapies such as herbal remedies and acupuncture in Australia’s hospitals, an academic says.

 

Professor Marc Cohen says the therapies should be part of the drive to make the nation’s hospitals more efficient, and it would also address an often overlooked area of risk to patient health.

 

Studies show up to 60 per cent of Australians routinely take “natural supplements” and, Prof Cohen said, many continued to do so in hospital without telling their medical carers.

 

“They take it in their little bag with the pyjamas … they are taking fish oil or multi-vitamins,” Prof Cohen told AAP.

“It’s not recorded on their hospital chart, or administered by the nursing staff, and if there was herb or drug nutrient interaction no one is recording that.

“It’s an unsupervised practice that is potentially dangerous, and those barriers need to be broken down.”

 

Prof Cohen, who is Professor of Complementary Medicine at RMIT University, pointed to a Victorian study which found 40 per cent of patients undergoing cardiac surgery were also taking undisclosed supplements.

 

Taking St Johns Wort as a natural treatment for depression was known to skew a person’s necessary dosage of heart medication, he said, naming just one example of a negative interaction.

 

It was not just about taking better account of a patient’s supplement use, Prof Cohen said, as where complementary therapies were shown to work they should be introduced to the regime of treatment options in hospitals.

 

Prof Cohen is overseeing a trial in two Victorian hospitals, in which people arriving at the emergency department with back pain, migraine or injuries like a sprained ankle are offered acupuncture for pain relief.

 

Early results of this study showed the ancient Chinese practice could be as effective as drug-based pain relief though the research will take another three years to complete.

 

“We have some examples where the patient has averted being given an opiate (pain-killing drug) by being given acupuncture, and can leave within half an hour,” Prof Cohen said.

 

“We know some complementary therapies are very effective in chronic conditions, often they are very safe and their costs are far lower than pharmaceuticals.”

 

Hospitals could also offer massage, meditation, yoga and even hypnosis, said Prof Cohen, and more research into the effectiveness of different complementary therapies was needed.

 

He will present a paper on the issue at the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine annual scientific meeting in Melbourne on Tuesday (November 17).

City MDs researching Chinese Medicine

 

Gary Yokoyama, the Hamilton Spectator

 

September 25, 2009 Joanna Frketich The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton doctors are turning to traditional Chinese medicine to find new ways to treat lung disease and cancer.

 

A Chinese doctor will spend the next two years at St. Joseph’s Healthcare doing research to show the effectiveness of using curcumin, which is an extract of popular Indian herb turmeric, to treat lung fibrosis.

 

McMaster University researchers are spending today meeting with scientists from Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to create a collaboration aimed at integrating the 5,000-year-old practice into Western cancer care.

 

“We know a lot of the general public are using traditional Chinese medicine, especially in cancer care,” said Dr. Raimond Wong, associate professor of oncology and medicine at McMaster.

 

“The problem is there is no large enough (study) to know if those approaches are really useful or not. One would need to do appropriate research to generate the evidence saying this one is useful or that one is not useful so that we can put it into practice and try to integrate the two practices together.”

 

The goal is for that research to be done in Hamilton, starting with the lung fibrosis study already under way.

 

It’s a big step for western doctors, who tend to be skeptical of traditional Chinese medicine because it’s based on experience instead of evidence.

 

“My goal here is to bridge the gap between Chinese medicine and western medicine,” said Dr. Cui Ye, the research fellow from China working at St. Joseph’s Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health. “I’m considered as a liaison to better translate the effectiveness and safety of Chinese medicine.”

 

The province has made it a priority to find out more about traditional Chinese medicine.

And China hopes to learn more about how medicine is researched and taught in Canada.

 

“We need to test our assumptions,” said St. Joseph’s CEO Kevin Smith. “Historically, we’ve seen a bit of resistance from both parties to recognize the strengths or weaknesses of the other. We hear from western medicine criticism about the lack of rigorous evaluation in some traditional therapies. We similarly hear from more traditional therapies the fact that western medicine has ignored thousands of years of effective results. This will start the debate.”

 

For patients, it could open the door to new treatments that are less invasive, have fewer side effects and offer hope where up until now there’s been none.

 

“There has not been a cure in pulmonary fibrosis, the disease we’re tackling,” Ye said. “The current therapy only provides marginal effects with a lot of side effects.”

Lung fibrosis is a scarring of the lungs that makes it difficult to breathe for about 30,000 Canadians. It’s unknown what causes it and it normally kills within three to five years.

“Our problem is the excessive scarring and that is something that goes on and on and no one knows why or how to stop it,” said Dr. Martin Kolb, research director at the Firestone Institute. “From a doctor’s perspective, if we find something to stop that process we’d be extremely happy and the patients would be extremely happy.”

 

It could also mean great strides for cancer care.

 

The first meeting between McMaster and the Chinese and Hong Kong universities went well yesterday and continues today. McMaster researchers are planning to visit China by the end of the year.

 

“We do like to collaborate because our aim is to better the health of the general public,” Wong said. “If there is evidence suggesting it’s useful, we can bring out this option to the public.” jfrketich@thespec.com

 

Acupuncture beat drugs to treat hot flushes: study

By Will Dunham, Reuters

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Acupuncture works as well as a drug commonly used to combat hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms that can accompany breast cancer treatment, and its benefits last longer, without bad side effects, researchers said on Monday.

They tested acupuncture, which began in China more than 2,000 years ago and involves inserting needles into the body, against the Wyeth antidepressant Effexor, for hot flashes in breast cancer patients.

Acupuncture was just as effective as Effexor, also called venlafaxine, in managing symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats, according to researchers led by Dr. Eleanor Walker of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

After 12 weeks of treatment, symptoms were reduced for 15 additional weeks for women who had undergone acupuncture, compared with two weeks for those who had taken Effexor, Walker said.

“It was a more durable effect,” Walker, whose findings were presented at an American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology meeting in Boston, said in a telephone interview.

There were no bad side effects with acupuncture, and women reported increased energy, overall sense of well-being and sexual desire, the researchers said.

Those taking Effexor reported side effects including nausea, headache, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, increased blood pressure, fatigue and anxiety.

VALUE OF ACUPUNCTURE

The study adds to a growing body of evidence of the value of acupuncture. Earlier research had shown it can reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and post-operative pain.

“It’s been tested directly against a drug that we use regularly. And it’s more effective. It has benefits, as opposed to any side-effects,” Walker said.

“If you only have to give women treatment three to four times a year as opposed to having to take a pill every day, that’s going to be more cost-effective for insurance companies and the patient,” Walker added.

Breast cancer patients can develop menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes after treatment with chemotherapy and anti-estrogen hormones. Hormone replacement therapy is often used to treat such symptoms in women without breast cancer, but breast cancer patients cannot use that therapy because it may raise the risk of the cancer’s return.

Effexor, one of a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, is one of the most commonly used drugs to treat hot flashes in these women.

But the researchers said some women opt not to take such drugs out of concern over side effects.

Forty-seven breast cancer patients took part in the study, about half getting acupuncture and half getting Effexor. The women kept track of the number and severity of hot flashes before, during and after the 12 weeks of treatment.

Walker said it is unclear exactly how acupuncture is working. Experts say it may help the activity of the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals among other things.

(Editing by Patricia Zengerle)

 

Acupuncture for IVF Success

Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis

BMJ 2008;336:545-549 (8 March), doi:10.1136/bmj.39471.430451.BE (published 7 February 2008)

Eric Manheimer, research associate1, Grant Zhang, assistant professor1, Laurence Udoff, assistant professor2, Aviad Haramati, professor3, Patricia Langenberg, professor and vice-chair4, Brian M Berman, professor1, Lex M Bouter, professor and vice chancellor (rector magnificus)5

1 Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 2200 Kernan Drive, Kernan Hospital Mansion, Baltimore, MD 21207, USA, 2 Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Services, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 3 Department of Physiology and Biophysics and Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC, 4 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 5 VU University Amsterdam De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Correspondence to: E Manheimer emanheimer@compmed.umm.edu

Objective: To evaluate whether acupuncture improves rates ofpregnancy and live birth when used as an adjuvant treatmentto embryo transfer in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation.

Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources: Medline, Cochrane Central, Embase, Chinese BiomedicalDatabase, hand searched abstracts, and reference lists.

Review methods: Eligible studies were randomised controlled trialsthat compared needle acupuncture administered within one day of embryo transfer with sham acupuncture or no adjuvant treatment,with reported outcomes of at least one of clinical pregnancy,ongoing pregnancy, or live birth. Two reviewers independently agreed on eligibility; assessed methodological quality; and extracted outcome data. For all trials, investigators contributedadditional data not included in the original publication (such as live births). Meta-analyses included all randomised patients.

Data synthesis: Seven trials with 1366 women undergoing in vitrofertilisation were included in the meta-analyses. There was little clinical heterogeneity. Trials with sham acupuncture and no adjuvant treatment as controls were pooled for the primary analysis. Complementing the embryo transfer process with acupuncture was associated with significant and clinically relevant improvements in clinical pregnancy (odds ratio 1.65, 95% confidence interval1.27 to 2.14; number needed to treat (NNT) 10 (7 to 17); seven trials), ongoing pregnancy (1.87, 1.40 to 2.49; NNT 9 (6 to15); five trials), and live birth (1.91, 1.39 to 2.64; NNT 9(6 to 17); four trials). Because we were unable to obtain outcome data on live births for three of the included trials, the pooled odds ratio for clinical pregnancy more accurately represents the true combined effect from these trials rather than the oddsratio for live birth. The results were robust to sensitivity analyses on study validity variables. A prespecified subgroup analysis restricted to the three trials with the higher rates of clinical pregnancy in the control group, however, suggested a smaller non-significant benefit of acupuncture (odds ratio1.24, 0.86 to 1.77).

Conclusions: Current preliminary evidence suggests that acupuncture given with embryo transfer improves rates of pregnancy and livebirth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation.

Some 10-15% of couples have difficulty conceiving at some point in their reproductive lives and seek specialist fertility treatment.

  1. A commonly used option is in vitro fertilisation, which involves retrieving a woman’s egg, fertilising the egg in the laboratory, and then transferring the embryo back into the woman’s uterus through the cervix.
  2. This entire process is typically referred to as an in vitro fertilisation “cycle” because it involves several procedures, typically over the course of about two weeks, starting when a woman begins taking drugs to stimulate egg production. In 2003, over 120 000 treatment cycles were performed in clinics in the United States.2 In 2000, about 200000 babies worldwide were conceived through in vitro fertilisation.
  3. Because each cycle is expensive, lengthy, and stressful, new drugs and technologies have been developed to improve success rates. Progress, however, has been limited. Although use of some procedures, initiated before the cycle, have been shown to improve pregnancy rates in women with a poorer prognosis because of specific conditions (such as surgical treatment fortubal disease).
  4. long term treatment with gonadotrophin releasing hormone agonists for women with endometriosis)
  5. few adjuvant procedures have been shown to be effective for women in general. One exception is luteal phase support, which has been shown to increase pregnancy rates and is routinely used
  6. Acupuncture has been used in China for centuries to regulate the female reproductive system.
  7. Three potential mechanisms for its effects on fertility have been postulated.
  8. Firstly, acupuncture may mediate the release of neurotransmitters,
  9. which may in turn stimulate secretion of gonadotrophin releasing hormone, thereby influencing the menstrual cycle, ovulation, and fertility.
  10. Secondly, acupuncture may stimulate blood flow to the uterus by inhibiting uterine central sympathetic nerve activity.
  11. Thirdly, acupuncture may stimulate the production of endogenousopioids, which may inhibit the central nervous system outflow and the biological stress response.
  12. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials to determine whether acupuncture given with embryo transfer improves the rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation.

Clinical implications
The odds ratio of 1.65 suggests that acupuncture increased the odds of clinical pregnancy by 65% compared with the control groups. It is important to note, however, that the odds ratio significantly overestimates the rate ratio in this context, in which the event (pregnancy) is relatively frequent. In absolute terms, the number needed to treat was 10, suggesting that 10 patients would need to be treated with acupuncture to bring about one additional clinical pregnancy. These are clinically relevant benefits.16

Safety and costs are other considerations. Two large prospective surveys of practitioners show that serious adverse events after acupuncture are rare.40 41 Among women in labour42 43 and women at various stages of pregnancy,44 45 46 systematic reviews and randomised trials have shown acupuncture to be safe, although limited sample sizes preclude definitive conclusions. The effects of acupuncture in early pregnancy on complications later in pregnancy and on perinatal and infant outcomes have also been investigated in one trial, and no safety concerns were detected.47 In vitro fertilisation is an expensive procedure, costing anaverage of $12 400 (£6300, 8480) per cycle in the United States.48 If acupuncture increased the likelihood of success of an individual cycle, then the need for a subsequent cycle would be reduced, and overall costs would be decreased. Even if such increases were small, and, for example, 17 patients needed to be treated with acupuncture to bring about one additional pregnancy (that is, the lowest range of our 95% confidence interval), an acupuncture cointervention may still be cost effective, considering the negligible costs of two to four sessions of acupuncture, relative to the high costs of in vitro fertilisation.

Ear Acupuncture relieves back pain in pregnant women

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 by: E. Huff, staff writer

The September issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology contains a report that illustrates the effectiveness of ear acupuncture in alleviating lower back and pelvic pain in pregnant women. The study revealed that among 159 women who were given the acupuncture treatment, all reported reduction in overall pain and functional improvement in mobility.

The unique circulatory network that exists between the mother and her developing child is delicate, leading many prenatal health providers to shy away from prescribing any pharmacological methods of intervention to alleviate the lower back pain associated with pregnancy. Since drugs carry heavy side effects for both mother and child, researchers have continued to investigate safer, simpler, more natural methods of mitigation.

Dr. Shu-Ming Wang of the Yale School of medicine suggests that simple, inexpensive acupuncture treatments offer a drug-free method of easing common back and pelvic pain in pregnant women and may help stave off perpetual chronic back pain throughout their lives.

Three groups of women were included in the study; one group receiving real acupuncture, the second group receiving acupuncture in “sham” points, and the third group receiving nothing but self-care. Eighty-one percent of the women in the legitimate acupuncture group experienced a 30 percent or greater reduction in pain while only 59 percent in the phony acupuncture group experienced such results. Of the group receiving no treatment, 47 percent indicated reduction in pain.

After only one week, 37 percent of the women receiving genuine acupuncture treatment were pain free compared to 22 percent in the fake group and only 9 percent in the self-care control group. Those who received veritable acupuncture treatment also experienced a significant improvement in mobility and function compared to the other two groups.

Though not all women remained free of pain in the weeks following the study, researchers indicate that longer-term treatments may produce more sustained relief. Further study is also needed to verify characteristically why some women respond more favorably than others to acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture continues to make inroads into mainstream medicine due to its veritable effects on reducing pain. Studies conducted on a wide cross-section of pain conditions have seen favorable results, leading the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to support acupuncture as a viable treatment option.

From fibromyalgia and chronic headaches to cramps and arthritis, alternative and complementary doctors are witnessing excellent results in prescribing this inexpensive treatment option for their patients’ ailments rather than pharmaceutical drugs.

Acupuncture relieves lung disease symptoms

Acupuncture may finally be poised to earn some long-sought respect from the medical
establishment — and perhaps better insurance coverage — with a new clinical trial showing that the technique works better than a sham treatment to relieve not just pain but other symptoms that are less subjective to measure.
The small but well designed study, published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine,
involved 68 Japanese patients with difficulty walking and breathing from a chronic lung condition.

Half were randomly assigned to have acupuncture with hair-thin needles that penetrated the skin — to press on certain pressure points — while the other half had fake treatments using blunt needles that didn’t pierce the skin.
After 12 weeks, those who received the real acupuncture were able to walk and breathe more easily during a six-minute walk test, while those who had the fake treatments experienced no improvement in their previous walking test scores.
The paper suggests acupuncture may be a potential treatment for a lung condition — calledchronic obstructive pulmonary lung disease — that doesn’t have many effective treatments to halt the lung deterioration that leads to the need for an oxygen tank for breathing and eventually can be fatal.

The study is “thoughtful and methodologically rigorous, indicating that acupuncture creates significant improvement for patients with COPD across a range of patient-centered and physiologic outcome measures over and above standard care,” wrote George Lewith, a researcher from the University of Southampton, in an editorial that accompanied the study.

But he also told me via e-mail that it’s too early for acupuncture to become the standard of care to treat the lung condition; results need to be replicated in larger studies.
A bigger issue is the wide variation in acupuncture practices, even among practitioners in a single city such as Boston.

The researchers used a traditional Chinese medical (TCM) acunpuncture technique, pressing on a standard set of pressure points in a prescribed order.

Having a standardized practice is common in clinical trials, said acupuncture researcher Vitaly Napadow, an assistant professor of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital.
But, he added, “there is very little agreement as to how acupuncture should be practiced” in the real world. As part of his training at the New England School of Acupuncture, Napadow said he studied TCM as well as techniques from Korea and other countries and learned to personalize treatment plans, even for patients with the same medical diagnoses.

Having research studies that document effectiveness for specific acupuncture techniques, however, might help convince some acupuncturists — especially those affiliated with academic teaching hospitals — to follow standard techniques proven effective by research.
A large review of clinical trials testing acupuncture against sham treatments for arthritis, back pain, and other chronic pain conditions is slated to be published soon, according to Napadow, and it clearly shows that the real pinpricks are better than the fake ones.

Interestingly, it also found that even fake treatments work better than other placebos, such as a doctor visit without touching any pressure points.
Another review of 21 studies recently published online found that acupuncture was effective at combating nausea after surgery, and others show acupuncture can help alleviate migraines and improve outcomes of in vitro fertilization.

How acupuncture works depends on whom you ask.

Chinese philosophers believe the body has an energy flow that runs like rivers, or meridians, which can get blocked up as if behind a dam at certain points, leading to illness.

The needle treatment unblocks this dam making the body healthy again.
Western scientists, however, hypothesize that acupuncture likely works by stimulating the central nervous system at various pressure points, releasing chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals may alter the brain’s perception of pain or release other chemicals that influence self-regulating systems like breathing or digestion.

“Usually the benefits don’t occur after one treatment,” Napadow said. “It requires a minimum once-a-week treatment for several weeks, but some practitioners advise twice a week for those in severe pain.”

In China, some get treated every day with acupuncture, but treatments are much cheaper there.

In this country, treatments run $50 to $125 per session and often aren’t covered by insurance. Veterans Acupuncture Care offers free sessions every Saturday in Framingham to veterans and their families. And the New England School of Acupuncture offers reduced prices for sessions conducted by students in training.

Insurance coverage might improve in the future, Napadow added, if larger clinical trials
demonstrate acupuncture’s effectiveness over sham procedures and practitioners are willing to adopt standardized practices.

Chinese herbs may hold back diabetes: study

Chinese herbs may hold back diabetes: study

www.chinaview.cn 2009-10-15 Editor: Wang Guanqun

BEIJING, Oct. 15 (Xinhuanet) — Traditional Chinese herbal medicines may help prevent the development of diabetes in the early stages, new research suggests.
The research, conducted by a research team of Center for Complementary Medicine Research at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, was carried out in April 2008 and March this year in conjunction with the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.
In the study, the researchers examined 16 clinical trials including 1,391 people of 15 different herbal formulations. The results were positive, but more evidence is still needed, researchers say.
The research concluded that the herbs generally helped lower blood sugar levels in people with “pre-diabetes.”
It also suggested that adding an herbal remedy to lifestyle changes doubled the chance of participants’ blood sugar levels returning to normal.
The Chinese herbal mixes, which have been used for a long time to treat diabetes in China, Korea and Japan, are thought to work in many ways to help normalize blood sugar levels, including by improving pancreatic function and increasing the availability of insulin.
But Suzanne Grant, the lead researcher of the study, pointed out that the Chinese herbs are only to recommended on a patients’ individual situation.
By far, the study did not find serious side effects caused by the herbs. However, Grant noted, like all medicines, herbs may have potential side effects or interactions with other drugs.

Carrot & Leek Soup

Cream of Carrot & Leek Soup

1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 ½ tbsp safflower oil
3 leeks, white part cut into 6mm slices
1.5kg large carrots, peeled and sliced
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup low-fat milk
¼ tsp salt
freshly ground white pepper to taste

1. Toast the cumin in a hot, dry pan, shaking constantly over medium heat for 2 minutes. Grind the seeds into a coarse powder in a spice grinder, or crush them with a rolling pin. Set aside.

2. In a medium stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the leeks, and cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, reserving ½ teaspoon for garnish, and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until the carrots are tender, about 25 minutes.

3. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return the mixture to the pot, pour in the milk and warm over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper, garnish with a sprinkle of the reserved cumin. Serve immediately.

Serves 8

Nutritional breakdown per serving (1 cup):
840 Kilojoules, 3g Protein, 26g Carbohydrates, 6g Fibre, 5g Total Fat
(1g Saturated, 1g Monounsaturated, 3g Polyunsaturated), 0mg Cholesterol, 150mg Sodium, 20mg Vitamin C,
48,930 IU Vitamin A.