Chinese Medicine considers preventative care as important as treating the disease itself. If we cultivate our health we can prevent illness and injury from occurring and minimize their consequences when 'disease evils' do attack us. Join Kath Bartlett, MS, LAc as she shares thoughts, news articles, recipes & tips derived from a wide variety of source material, as it relates to Chinese medicine and cultivating optimal health for the body, mind and spirit.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chickpea-Garlic Soup Mmm, Mmm Good

Here's my newest, favorite soup recipe. Is it ever delicious. I garnished it with a dollop of raw/cultured red cabbage that I found in a package in the refrigerator section at Earthfare. The red color popped beautifully popped in the bowl of the golden yellow soup, as did it's tartness pop the flavor of this creamy potage. The recipe is from the cookbook of my favorite vegetarian restaurant in NYC: Angelica's Kitchen. Peter Berley, the author of my 2nd favorite vegetarian cookbook: The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, was a prior chef at Angelica's Kitchen in earlier days, and is credited for recipe development. I see similarities and influences in the recipes and cooking styles of the 2 books.

I keep an herb garden with staples like rosemary, sage, oregano, basil, thyme and so on, ensuring that I always have fresh herbs on hand to throw in a pot of whatever I'm cooking. I've made adjustments to the proportions and amounts of some ingredients and streamlined the directions a little bit. I always add a strip of kombu when cooking beans. It aids in their digestibility. You'll find it in packages in the macrobiotic section at the natural food store. I highly recommend Mitoku's gold rimmed packaged kombu from the Natural Import Company. It's of a particularly high quality. The kombu is thick and comes from the part of a particular Japanese cove where the kombu has ideal growing conditions. There's a link to their website on the bottom on the resources page of my website: KB

4C dried chickpeas, washed and soaked overnight
Spring water
2 celery stalks
1-2 bay leaves
2 rosemary branches
6-8 fresh sage leaves
1/3C olive oil
4C diced yellow onions: 2 onions
1/2C garlic cloves, peeled: 1 1/2 heads
1/2C Fresh sqeezed lemon juice: 3 lemons
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 strip kombu (KB)

Place the beans in a large pressure cooker with herbs, kombu and water to cover beans by 1" or so. Bring to high pressure, lower heat and cook 45 minutes. While beans are cooking, heat oil in a large frying or saute pan over low heat. Stir in onions and garlic, and cook over lowest possible heat until beans are done: about 40 minutes.

When beans are done, discard celery and herbs. Add the onions and garlic to the beans and puree. Add water as needed to make a thick soup. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

You'll love it!

The Angelica Home Kitchen: Mc Eachern Leslie. Ten Speed Press 2003, p132.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Homemade Applesauce: Healthy and Guilt-free Dessert

Apples have been on sale recently at Earthfare and Greenlife, so I bought a few pounds and made a easy applesauce, mmm, mmm. My grandmother used to make this and I still remember how much I loved eating it. We used to eat it with cinnamon graham crackers. It's also tasty over ice cream. Though, as an acupuncturist, I avoid frozen, sugary concoctions, such as ice cream.

I've been enjoying the applesauce over millet and walnuts in the morning for breakfast, or as an after-meal snack.

I used my version of my grandmother's recipe. She used to can it in jars. I haven't yet learned canning.

7lbs apples - I used a blend of macs and granny smith: they were both on sale. The granny smith added a tang, so I would continue with 50% green apples.

Whole spices: cinnamon [1 stick], anise [maybe 1t], nutmeg [1/2 nut], cloves [maybe 7 or so]

filtered water

Core the apples and cut into 3" chunks. (Quarter, then halve the quarters). I pressure cooked them on low pressure for about 5min with 1/4 pot of water and the spices [put these in a cloth teabag or a tea ball]. Alternatively, you could simmer them until they get soft. Then I pulled out the spices and pureed the apples with an immersion blender. You could use a food processor. My grandmother pushed them through a sieve with a wooden mallet. Using the modern appliances you get to use the skins, which have beneficial nutrients.

If the sauce is too wet, simmer it down a little longer. No sugar necessary, and boy is it tasty.

The cinnamon levels out the sugar spike, providing a slow release which is easier for the body to utilize. KB

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Studies Show 'No Benefit' of Clomid or IUI's in Increasing Chances of Pregnancy

Fertility treatments 'no benefit'

Two common treatments for fertility problems do not work, an Aberdeen University-led study suggests.

UK guidelines recommend the drug clomid and artificial insemination for couples who have trouble conceiving despite no known cause for their infertility.

But trials of 580 women in Scotland found the treatments were no better than trying to get pregnant naturally, the British Medical Journal reports.

A third of couples who struggle to get pregnant have unexplained infertility.

It means, despite a battery of tests, doctors cannot find a reason why they struggle to conceive.

It sends a positive message that the chances of success spontaneously are pretty convincing
Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya, study leader

The options listed by the National Institute of Clinical and Health Excellence (NICE) include up to six cycles of unstimulated intrauterine insemination - where sperm is inserted directly into the woman's womb - and use of clomid (clomifene citrate), a drug which stimulates the ovaries.

The treatments have both been offered for many years because "doing nothing" is an unpopular choice among patients, the researchers said.

But until now there has been little rigorous testing of their effectiveness.

Success rate

Five hospitals were involved in the study: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary and Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Scientists from Oxford University also took part in the research.

In the six-month study, participants had all suffered unexplained fertility problems for more than two years.

Overall, 101 women ended up having a successful pregnancy.

Of those who tried to conceive naturally, 17% became pregnant and gave birth to a live baby.

For clomid, the birth rate was 14%, and insemination 23% - not significantly different from the chances of success with no intervention.

However, the women undergoing active treatment were more reassured.

Between 10 and 20% of women taking the drug had side-effects, including abdominal pain, bloating, hot flushes, nausea and headaches.

The drug also increases the risk of twins and triplets, which can be more dangerous for mother and babies than a singleton pregnancy.

But the researchers were quick to point out that it is a very useful treatment for women who have problems with ovulation.

'Cheap but common'

Study leader, Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya, from the University of Aberdeen, said the findings challenge current practice.

"The first thing is it sends a positive message that the chances of success spontaneously are pretty convincing."

He added: "These treatments are cheap but common - if you total all the money, time and effort spent on them, it's considerable."

In an accompanying article, researchers from the Assisted Conception Unit at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, said because of the lack of evidence, many couples with unexplained infertility endure "expensive, potentially hazardous, and often unnecessary treatments".

Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield and secretary of the British Fertility Society, said: "It is very important that we have a strong evidence base to support the treatments that are offered to infertile couples and as such this study is very valuable.

"Intrauterine insemination has been offered to couples with unexplained infertility for many years, but if there is no benefit in doing so then we should re-evaluate the clinical guidelines so that NHS money is used wisely."

Excerpts from Washington Post article about Acupuncture Efficacy

The following is an excerpt from an article in the Washington Post about acupuncture. These are comments from doctors and patients about their experiences with acupuncture. KB

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 17, 2009; Page HE04

lternative Medicine

Millions Embrace Acupuncture, Despite Thin Evidence

A study found that 3.1 million adults and 150,000 children used acupuncture in 2007 for such ailments as headache, back pain and insomnia.
A study found that 3.1 million adults and 150,000 children used acupuncture in 2007 for such ailments as headache, back pain and insomnia. (By Dominic Bracco Ii For The Washington Post)

. . . Brian Berman, director of the University of Maryland center, came to acupuncture after feeling that something was missing in his practice of family medicine.

"I was well trained with acute problems such as an asthma attack, trauma, heart attack," he said. "But when it came to chronic pain, I didn't have all the answers. Eventually that led me to taking the acupuncture course in 1983, then further training in the U.K., and I incorporated it my practice."

When he first suggested it to his patients, he said, they were skeptical. They were looking for a "magic pill" that would cure them: "Sometimes we had tried the pill and they still had their problems, and I would ask, 'Would you consider acupuncture?' " Often, it worked.

Linda Lee, a gastroenterologist who is director of Johns Hopkins's new Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center, said it's very hard to find scientific support for acupuncture, but she sees anecdotal evidence.

"We have this double standard," she said of the medical profession. "We are completely comfortable using pharmacological therapies that have not been subjected to clinical trials for the purposes we use them, but we are super suspicious of alternative therapies that haven't been tested with randomized placebo trials. From a research point of view, I understand the criticism. But we physicians are in the healing business, and we have to go beyond the pharmacological solutions to understand the whole person," she said. "Acupuncturists start with the whole person."

At the Hopkins center, acupuncture is used in conjunction with more-conventional medical treatment, said Lee.

"I have been very impressed by how much the acupuncturists pay attention to everything else going on in the body," said Lee, who is not trained in acupuncture. "I'm a specialist. I've been trained to hone in on one system."

Elise Feingold, 51, a human geneticist from Silver Spring, began trying acupuncture seven years ago for chronic back and knee pain. Her father had gotten some pain relief from it, and so she felt it might be beneficial.

Feingold says she reaped unexpected benefits: dramatic and rapid relief from hot flashes that had been waking her seven or eight times a night, as well as relief from 11 months of coccyx (tailbone) pain that her doctors had been unable to help.

"You see benefits over a period of time," said Feingold. "You're not always going to have that home run like [with] the hot flashes."

She said she has also found relief for less tangible and perhaps more emotionally based issues such as sleeplessness and stress, some of which she attributes to the time the practitioner spends talking with her. "There's a therapy aspect to this, too," she said. While she has no acute issue, she gets acupuncture about once a month for general health maintenance.

"I decided to leave my science brain aside," she said. "I felt it had helped other people, and it might help me. I don't know how it works, but it's got 4,000 years of Chinese medicine behind it."

Friday, March 6, 2009

Pentagon researches alternative treatments

Pentagon researches alternative treatments
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is seeking new ways to treat troops suffering from combat stress or brain damage by researching such alternative methods as acupuncture, meditation, yoga and the use of animals as therapy, military officials said.

"This new theme is a big departure for our cautious culture," Dr. S. Ward Casscells, the Pentagon's assistant secretary for health affairs, told USA TODAY.

Casscells said he pushed hard for the new research, because "we are struggling with" post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) "as we are with suicide and we are increasingly willing to take a hard look at even soft therapies."

So far this year, the Pentagon is spending $5 million to study the therapies. In the previous two years, the Pentagon had not spent any money on similar research, records show.

About 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer from PTSD or major depression, and about 320,000 may have experienced at least a mild concussion or brain injury in combat, according to a RAND Corp. study released this year.

The Army reported a record 115 suicides last year, and suicides this year are at a rate that may exceed that, said Col. Eddie Stephens, the Army's deputy director for human resources policy. The Department of Veterans Affairs reported last month that suicides among Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans from all services reached a record high of 113 in 2006, the latest year for which there were figures.

Some military hospitals and installations already use alternative therapies, such as acupuncture as stress relievers for patients. The research will see whether the alternatives work so the Pentagon can use them more, said Army Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, head of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. Many of the treatments have been used for centuries, Sutton said, "so it just makes sense to bring all potential therapies to bear."

Her office issued a request for research proposals this year on therapies ranging from art and dance, to the ancient Chinese healing art of qigong or a therapy of hands-on touching known as Reiki.

Sutton's office narrowed a list of 82 proposals to about 10 projects this year, and research should begin, with servicemembers as subjects in some cases, in the next few months, said Col. Karl Friedl, head of the Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, which oversees the work.

Friedl said research will include how meditation can improve emotional resilience; how holding and petting an animal can treat PTSD and how acupuncture pain relief can relieve headaches created by mild brain damage from blasts.

"We want to add everything we can to our tool kit" for these injuries, said Col. Elspeth Ritchie, an Army psychiatrist.

Some soldiers who suffer from PTSD are reluctant to share their experiences in traditional psychiatric therapy, said Col. Charles Engel, an Army psychiatric epidemiologist. He said those soldiers may be more willing to use acupuncture and other alternatives if they are effective.

Initial research this summer with combat veterans showed that acupuncture relieved PTSD symptoms and eased pain and depression, Engel said. "Improvements were relatively rapid and clinically significant," he said.

About one third of sailors and Marines use some types of alternative therapies, mostly herbal remedies, according to a survey conducted last year. A recent Army study shows that one in four soldiers with combat-caused PTSD turned to herbs, chiropractors, acupuncture or megavitamins for relief.

Although the Pentagon's study of alternative medicine for combat diseases is unique, research into such therapies for broad public use is not new, said Richard Nahin, a senior adviser for the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The NIH spends about $300 million a year on similar research.

Find this article at:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

MD Speaks About Acupuncture Anesthesia for Surgery in Address to National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

News Advisory

Noted Author, Surgeon To Address "Chinese Medicine, Western Science and Acupuncture" at NCCAM's Inaugural Stephen E. Straus Distinguished Lecture

What: National Book Award-winning author and surgeon Sherwin B. Nuland, M.D., discusses his experiences in China observing major surgery conducted without anesthesia, aided by acupuncture—and whether its effectiveness can be explained by current biomedical science. Dr. Nuland, author of The Uncertain Art: Thoughts on a Life in Medicine, and clinical professor of surgery at Yale University, will be the featured speaker at the inaugural Stephen E. Straus Distinguished Lecture in the Science of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. His lecture is entitled "Chinese Medicine, Western Science and Acupuncture."

Why: This lecture series was established in honor of Stephen E. Straus, M.D., founding director of NCCAM and an internationally recognized clinician-scientist, who died in 2007. Dr. Nuland, the first lecturer of the series, will draw on personal experiences as a surgeon to explore the idea that there are medical phenomena that cannot be explained by the investigational methods used by today's biomedical science.

When: Tuesday, March 10, lecture from 2:30–4:00 p.m. EST
Reception and poster session from 4:00–5:00 p.m. EST

Where: National Institutes of Health [NIH], Building 10, 10 Center Drive, Bethesda, Maryland. Lecture: Masur Auditorium; Reception and Poster Session: Southeast Patio

More information: Details are available on NCCAM's website at Sign language interpretation will be provided; for other reasonable accommodation or more information call Karen Davison at 301-984-7191.

Who Should Attend: The event is free and open to the public.

Hosts: Presented by NCCAM and supported by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health with generous funding from The Bernard Osher Foundation.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine's mission is to explore complementary and alternative medical practices in the context of rigorous science, train CAM researchers, and disseminate authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCAM's Clearinghouse toll free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCAM Web site at NCCAM 1999–2009: Celebrating 10 years of rigorous research.

The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health [NIH] was established by the United States Congress to support the mission of the National Institutes of Health—improving health through scientific discovery. The Foundation identifies and develops opportunities for innovative public-private partnerships involving industry, academia, and the philanthropic community. A nonprofit, 501(c)(3) corporation, the Foundation raises private-sector funds for a broad portfolio of unique programs that complement and enhance NIH priorities and activities. The Foundation's web site is

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)—The Nation's Medical Research Agency—includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit