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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Could Women Use Smaller Vaccine Doses?

The decision to vaccinate is a personal one. Do your own research and weigh the side effects and disease risks against the benefits of the vaccine. Keep in mind that those who are immuno-compromised, weak or frail are in a higher risk group than healthy young and middle aged adults. The authors of this NY Time's Op-Ed piece contend that clinical studies are showing that women produce as many antibodies to half the dose of flu vaccine that men do at the full dose, and that the rule holds up for other diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A & B and herpes simplex. If women were given a lower dose they might suffer fewer side effects than they do at the higher dose. In the case of H1N1, where there is a shortage of the vaccine, giving women a lower dose, the authors argue, would make the limited
quantities of vaccine available for more people.

Drugs are usually only tested on men age 18-45 before they are given FDA approval. Ethically the drug companies can't give a new drug that much about the potential side effects are unknown to higher risk groups. These groups include women in their reproductive years because if they were to become pregnant while taking the drug, the drug may have detrimental effects on the fetus. Children, older adults and seniors have weaker immune systems to which an unknown drug could potentially cause harm. This means that most drugs are not tested on children, elderly or women before they are released onto the public. For this reason, I do not recommend using a new drug unless it is the only alternative. It has only been tested in a small group of men, and there are a lot of unknowns about it. KB

Here's the NY Time's piece on flu shot dosing for women:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Stanford Research Study Shows Acupuncture Reduces Hot Flashes

Here's a study published a few years ago by a Stanford researcher showing the benefits of acupuncture for hot flashes.
The study followed patients for seven weeks of treatment. In Chinese Medicine we treat in courses: a clinical course of treatment being 10-12 visits or weeks of herbal medicine. I have found in clinic that the first course of treatment tends to be 10-15 visits. In that amount of time I can usually get mild or acute symptoms resolved, and more chronic symptoms reduced and under control. Inexplicably this study tracked patients for only 7 visits. I'm sure the results would have dramatically increased had the patients continued treatment for a full course, or longer.

I have noticed that studies usually show a lower percentage effectiveness than what I and others in the field see in clinic. I've discussed this paradox with colleagues, and our explanation is that in studies the researchers choose one simple protocol and give it to everyone in the study, often not a protocol actually used in clinic. One of the hallmarks of Chinese medicine is individualized treatments. So although 10 women may all come in for hot flashes, they would get different treatments based on their constitutional differences in clinical presentation.

That being said, I do have a simple point combination that I have found generally effective for most all women with hot flashes. However, I potentiate the treatment by adding additional points to treat the constitutional individualities.

I don't like to quote percentages of effectiveness of my treatments, because I've noticed phenomenally that as soon as I do, someone comes in who is a non-responder. But I will say, based on my clinical experience that hot flashes is a condition I expect to respond well and eradicate with Chinese medical treatment that includes a combination of acupuncture and individualized Chinese herbal formulas. KB

Acupuncture reduces nighttime hot flashes caused by menopause, according to a study published in the journal, Fertility and Sterility.

Researchers found that seven weeks of acupuncture treatment reduced the severity of nighttime hot flashes by twenty-eight percent among menopausal women compared with a six percent decrease among women who had a sham acupuncture treatment.

The effects of acupuncture vs. a sham acupuncture treatment on the severity and frequency of nighttime hot flashes were compared. Taking part in the study were twenty-nine menopausal women experiencing at least seven moderate to severe hot flashes per day.

All of the women underwent nine treatments from trained acupuncturists in sessions over seven weeks. Twelve of the women received real acupuncture using points selected to target hot flashes and sleepiness. The rest of the women received a sham acupuncture treatment using non-penetrating needles at random acupuncture channel points.

Throughout the study, the women reported the number and severity of their hot flashes. The results showed that nighttime hot flash severity decreased significantly (twenty-eight percent) among the women who received acupuncture vs. a six percent drop among the women who got the sham treatment. However, they did not see a similar finding in the frequency of nighttime hot flashes between the two groups.

Researcher Mary Huang, M.S., of Stanford University, and colleagues say the results suggest acupuncture deserves further study as an alternative treatment for menopausal hot flashes.

Huang, M. Fertility and Sterility, September 2006; Vol. 86: pp. 700-710. News release, American Society of Reproductive Medicine.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Food for Thought: Better to Eat a Cow than a Fish

I am vegan; however I often talk to folks who are sometimes vegetarians, or those who abstain from red meat. I think for them, the idea of eating a mammal is abhorrent, but occasional fish or chicken seems a tolerable
or even desirable protein source. Even for those on an unabashed meat-based diet, the following discussion about which meats to eat may be insightful:

I was fortunate to attend a reading of a discourse read by Ven. Zhaxi Zhuoma Rinoche a couple of Sundays ago. Periodically, she paused to add in editorial comments and take questions that further illuminated and clarified the text. At one point she made a comment which spoke to me. That is that if one is going to eat meat, it is preferable to eat a large mammal which can feed many, such as a cow, rather than smaller life forms such as fish or shrimp. The logic is that if one eats a large animal, only one life is lost to feed many. With the consumption of smaller life forms, such as shrimp or shellfish, it takes many lives to feed one.

I thought this point was important to consider when making food choices. According to this idea, if one does eat fish or foul, larger animals such as tuna, swordfish, salmon, turkey or goose would be preferable to smaller species such as chicken, game hen, trout, catfish, lobster, and so on.

Do not get me started on the lobster.

And do remember if you are eating animals, to be sure they are humanly raised and slaughtered (no slaughter houses) and that they have eaten an organic diet that is hormone and pesticide free. (I will write a future blog post about this issue. Until then, see my September post regarding ways to lower risk of breast cancer for some preliminary thoughts on this topic.)

Eat happy, relaxed, humanely, nutritiously and be fully involved in your food. KB

Friday, October 9, 2009

Studies Show Acupuncture More Effective than Drugs for Headaches

In a December 2008 two doctors
from the Department of Anesthesiology at Duke University Medical Center published the results of their systematic review of 25 studies on the use of acupuncture for treatment of headaches in Anesthesia and Analgesia. The authors concluded that acupuncture is more effective than drug therapy in relieving headaches. Here's a short NY Time's piece on their work. KB

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Words to Live By

Abstain from all that is evil.

Perform all that is good.
Purify your thoughts.
This is the teaching of the Buddhas.

Common Cold Remedy

Dr. Tan, with whom I study, recommends this implausible remedy for common cold. I'm assured it is effective. You must do it early, when you first notice symptoms:

1 clove garlic
1 lemon, juiced
1 shot hard alcohol

You eat the clove of garlic, mix the lemon juice into a glass of water and drink it and the shot of alcohol. You can do this in any order, but you might want to do the garlic first, and follow it with the lemon water. Or you could chop the garlic into small pieces, and then swallow it like a pill using the lemon water. Go directly to bed, and when you wake the cold symptoms should be relieved or gone. You must do this in the early stage.

This NY Times Really? column may explain just why this implausible remedy works: the garlic. Anahad O'Conner sites a 2001 British study of 146 volunteers where 2 groups were given garlic capsules or a placebo during cold season (November-February). the control group (no garlic) had 75% more colds, lasting longer (5 days vs 1.5 day average for garlic group) and 3x as many virally challenged days as the garlic group. (This study was preformed by Peter Josling, who runs a website promoting garlic supplements).

Garlic has many purported virtues. Odes could be written extolling the virtues of garlic, from warding off vampires to a
boon for longevity. Yogis love it and devouring it daily. The Delany Sisters of NY, who both lived to be over one hundred (you may recall their book, and subsequent Broadway play Having Our Say) attributed their longevity in part due to daily garlic, yoga practice and remaining single. (Women live longer if they don't get married, men live longer if they do).

I welcome a review of your experiences using this remedy. KB