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.

Monday, June 27, 2011

FDA Warns Against Anemia Drugs for Cancer Patients: Chinese Medicine Effective Treatment

The FDA issued a strong warning that will go on labels for three widely used drugs that treat anemia for cancer and dialysis patients: Procrit, Aranesp and Epogen, saying the drugs cause stokes and cardiac problems and speed the growth of malignant tumors. Fortunately for these patients there is a safer therapy available that effectively increases blood cell production: Chinese medicine.

Several organizations have endorsed the use of acupuncture for cancer treatment. The National Cancer Institute notes western studies are beginning to be done that show efficacy of acupuncture in increasing blood cell counts:
Scientific studies on the use of acupuncture to treat cancer and side effects of cancer began only recently. Laboratory and animal studies suggest that acupuncture can reduce vomiting caused by chemotherapy and may help the immune system be stronger during chemotherapy. Animal studies support the use of electroacupuncture to relieve cancer pain. Laboratory and animal studies have also looked at how acupuncture works for cancer treatment, such as the role of acupuncture in stimulating immune functions, including increasing blood cell count and enhancing lymphocyte and natural killer cell activity.
The Mesothelioma society agrees:
Furthermore, animal cancer studies have shown that acupuncture spurs blood cell production and lymphocyte activity. The end result of these processes is an increase in immune functions.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure, affecting the lining of the lung.

The Huffington Post also recommends acupuncture
for cancer patients to improve blood cell production:

Immune System Modulation: Many cancers and many cancer treatments cause a suppression of the bone marrow, the source of blood cells that are the army of the immune system. Acupuncture increases blood cell production and enhances Natural Killer Cells and Lymphocytes which leads to increased immune response and decreased risk of infection.

Chinese medicine improves red and white blood cell production, including lymphocytes and neutrophils. Though western studies emphasize acupuncture, herbal formulas are particularly important in raising blood cell counts. There are many blood building formulas with a proven track record. In my practice, I have seen blood cell counts markedly improve when acupuncture patients add Chinese herbs to their treatment plan.

Red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow. The bone marrow is part of the Chinese medicine Kidney system. Many kidney tonic herbs and formulas are known for increasing marrow. Chinese herbalists use a strategy of tonifying the Kidney, Blood and the Spleen to increase blood cell counts.

The spleen stores white blood cells. Chinese medicine considers the Spleen an important component of immune function. In Chinese medicine the Spleen responsible for extracting the nutrients from food necessary to build qi (energy) and blood. Patients with low blood cell counts usually suffer from fatigue, so building qi to improve energy is also an important component of treatment. Tonify the Kidney and Spleen improves fatigue. Peony root and angelica are commonly used blood tonic herbs. Ginseng is a famous qi tonic that builds Kidney energy.

I hope that patients and conventional medical practitioners will become more open minded about integrating Chinese medicine as a safe and effective option in treatment plans for cancer patients.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Acupuncture Reduces MS Symptoms and Improves Quality of Life

I'm going to be speaking to members of the Asheville MS Support Group on Thursday June 9th, 1:30-2:30 at West End Bakery on Haywood Road. In preparation I spent afternoon yesterday googling to see what is on the Internet showing acupuncture's effectiveness in treating MS. I posted many links on my facebook page and thought I would also include them on my blog so that they could be easily referenced in the future.

The MS Trust, a charity in the UK includes this thoughtful discussion about acupuncture for treating MS. Acupuncturist and author Jill Brooks includes a list of MS symptoms that respond well and those that have a mixed efficacy for acupuncture treatment.

Alien Sheng sums up acupuncture benefits for MS patients for the American Chronicle:
Acupuncture treatments for Multiple Sclerosis have had much success in reducing pain and decreasing spasticity. Another area of success is improved bladder and bowel control. The reduction of stress and the improved feeling of well being contribute to an improvement in quality of life. The acupuncture treatments must be given frequently in order to maintain the improvements of symptoms, but Multiple Sclerosis is known for its cycles of remission. During periods of remission, the frequency of the acupuncture treatments can be reduced.
This Acupuncture Today article discusses the use of scalp acupuncture for MS patients. They are many styles of acupuncture, including a number of different systems for using the scalp to map out the body. In one scalp system commonly taught in acupuncture colleges, to which the authors refer, there are motor and tremor lines on the scalp. Certain areas on the lines relate to different parts of the body: arms, legs, hands and so forth. I have used successfully used scalp acupuncture for various motor problems, including MS, Bell's Palsy, and Parkinson's disease. In this article the authors cite several remarkable case studies documenting immediate improvement in MS patients using scalp acupuncture.

Drs. Kopsky and Hesselink of the Institute of Neuroacupuncture in the Neatherlands discuss two cases of MS patients with bladder dysfunction (a common problem) which responded well to electoacupuncture. In electroacupuncture, a battery device with wires and clips are hooked up to strategic acupuncture points to increase stimulation of the needles during the treatment. Electroacupuncture is often used in pain treatments. I use it for labor induction and with scalp acupuncture for neurological disorders. Results are satisfying.

Fellow PCOM alumni, Kimberly Thompson, LAc (from my acupuncture college Pacific College of Oriental Medicine) discusses various Chinese pattern differentiations and applicable acupuncture points. In Chinese medicine, we use an individualized diagnosis method. I discuss briefly go into this concept on the Chinese Medicine page of my website. I also explain pattern diagnosis when describing treatment for specific conditions in blog post and articles.

I found a couple of instances where MS patients described there own experiences with acupuncture. The MS Resource Center in the UK discusses Kathy Kelvnik, a hospital coordinator who MS was so advanced she was rendered unable to work until acupuncture got her back on her feet again
Kathy Kevnick sought Dr. David Bilstrom's help after her MS left her unable to work. She couldn't walk. Steroids no longer worked. Neither did chemotherapy.
Weekly acupuncture sessions have helped Kevnick eliminate 80% of her medications and return to work full time as a hospital coordinator."It's changed my life. I had medical bills of $42,000 the year before I started acupuncture. Now my bills are acupuncture & massage therapy.

On Duane Perron tells his compelling story with MS and acupuncture treatment. He sums it up,"
Finding a good acupuncturist is like finding a good doctor....and it seems you have finally found your angel." KB