Posted by: Scott Stewart, MSAc., Dipl.AC., LAc.
A new study was published in the Journal of Indian Physiology and Pharmacology comparing electro-acupuncture and conventional medicine in the treatment of migraine patients. The conventional medicine group was given a drug called flunarizine, which is a calcium channel blocker commonly used to treat migraines (particularly one-sided headaches and migraines with aura), vertigo, and dizziness. At the end of the 30 day period there were significant improvements in both the acupuncture and the drug group, but the acupuncture group was found to have better responses and a more effective treatment than the drug group. To determine the effectiveness of the treatments a quality of life and a disability assessment questionnaire was given to the patients before and after the study.
Vijayalakshmi I, Shankar N, Saxena A, Bhatia MS. Comparison of effectiveness of acupuncture therapy and conventional drug therapy on psychological profile of migraine patients. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2014 Jan-Mar;58(1):69-76.
A recent study comparing the efficacy of acupuncture combined with an herbal formula (Shen Zao An Shen Tang) compared to Estazolam (drug category: benzodiazopine) for the treatment of Insomnia found that acupuncture combined with herbs was statistically more effective. The Eastern medicine approach had an effective rate of 96.8% compared to the Western drug group, which had a rate of 74.2% efficacy.
Ji-you Kou, Yan Wei, Xin Tong, Long Yang. Effect of combined acupuncture and Shen Zao An Shen Tang on sleep quality of insomnia patients due to deficiency of the heart and spleen. Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science 12, no. 2 (2014): 96-100.
1. Eat healthy - Avoid foods that cause inflammation.
2. Get plenty of sleep - People who don't get enough sleep are sick more often and live shorter lives.
3. Exercise regularly - Exercise increases circulation, improves metabolism, and reduces stress & depression.
4. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine - These stimulants will inhibit circulation, and increase your pain levels.
5. Manage stress - Find productive ways to deal with stress, and set aside time to relax (without the t.v., computer, etc).
Read more about fibromyalgia
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According to a 2011 study, the prevalence of hyperuricemia and gout has increased in both men and women over the past 20 years; effecting 8.3 million American adults.  Gout affects men 4 times more than women, and is seen to a greater extent in men over the age of 30. 
Gout attacks can be quite excruciating, but can be lessened or even prevented with some simple lifestyle changes. Below you will find some recommendations that will improve your quality of life, and reduce the frequency of attacks.
1. Stick to a low – purine diet  - Purines are amino acids that when metabolized create the waste product uric acid. The following foods are high in purines and should be avoided:
2. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet - Gout is an inflammatory disease, so it only makes sense to eat foods that do not invoke inflammation. (see list of anti-inflammatory foods vs inflammatory foods)
3. Avoid refined sugars and high fructose corn sugar (HFCS) - The standard American diet (SAD) is saturated with sugar and sweeteners like HFCS, and are implicated in many chronic diseases. HFCS is a combination of fructose and glucose sugars and directly linked with metabolic diseases. HFCS increases uric acid , and has also been found to cause scarring in the liver where most uric acid is synthesized. 
4. Eliminate alcohol - Alcohol converts to lactic acid, which inhibits the elimination of uric acid.
5. Stay hydrated - This helps flush the system. Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice to increase the detoxing effects.
6. Restrict caffeine intake - Studies have found a correlation between caffeine intake within a 24 hour period and increased gout attacks in people who already have the condition. 
7. Reduce weight - Obesity puts individuals at higher risk for gout, especially men.  Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys demonstrated that gout was more prevalent in individuals with a higher body mas index (BMI) score. 
8. Manage stress - No matter what the disease stress has a negative effect on the mind and the body. Stress can trigger a gout attack, so it's important to find productive ways to deal with stress. Here are a few suggestions: meditation, yoga or deep breathing; find what works best for you.
9. Eat lots of cherries or hawthorn berries ( 20 / day) - These contain antioxidants and have an anti-inflammatory effect. Studies have found that cherry consumption reduces the frequency of gout attacks. 
10. Avoid these medications:
Lifestyle modifications are the most effective deterrent of gout attacks. Visit our Conditions Treated page to read more about the condition of gout
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1. Cinnamon (Rou Gui 肉 桂)
Rou Gui is the powdered or stick cinnamon found on your spice rack. It’s both acrid and sweet with a hot nature.
Cinnamon is very warming; it disperses deep cold, especially in the stomach, alleviates pain and warms the channels. It reinforces Kidney Yang, in other words, it increases metabolism, and also encourages the generation of Qi & blood.
Medical Functions: Lowers blood pressure (particularly in Type II diabetic patients),[i][ii] anti-inflammatory,[iii] antibacterial,[iv] antibiotic effect,[v] antioxidant activity,[vi] [vii]and lowers glucose & lipid levels in diabetic patients.[viii] [ix] [x]
Cautions & Contraindications: If you have a lot of internal heat or heat signs, especially an easily upset stomach than do not take this herb. Do not take this herb if you are pregnant. Also, cinnamon extract may interact with blood thinners at higher doses. It may also have an additive effect with blood glucose lowering drugs.
2. Ginger (Sheng Jiang 生姜)
Fresh ginger should be in everyone’s refrigerator, because of its many uses and for its superb health value.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) ginger has an acrid taste with a slightly warm nature. It warms the lungs, transforms phlegm, stops cough, warms the middle jiao (diaphragm down to umbilicus), alleviates vomiting, and reduces the toxicity of some herbs. Ever wonder why they give you ginger with sushi . . . because it’s used for seafood poisoning.
Medical Functions: Anti-inflammatory,[xi] [xii] antiviral (especially in the lungs),[xiii] antibacterial,[xiv] anti-allergic,[xv] antitumor,[xvi] and promotes bile secretion.[xvii] [xviii]
Cautions & Contraindications: Vomiting due to stomach heat or Lung patterns involving excessive heat. Avoid taking ginger with non – steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), this can increase the risk of bleeding. Ginger has minor anticoagulant / antiplatelet activity and should be used cautiously with blood thinners. If you have gallstones it’s best to avoid ginger due to its potential cholagogic effect.
3. Walnuts (Hu Tao Ren 核桃)
Walnuts are one of my favorite snacks! They’re great in the winter time, because their nature is warming, and they have a sweet taste.
Walnuts are packed with all kinds of antioxidants, vitamins (A, C, E, K, Niacin, B6, etc.), minerals (Calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, etc.), protein, and both Omega - 3 fatty acids.
As a medicinal food, walnuts are very nourishing for the brain, the kidneys (Yang) and adrenals, and help enrich sperm.[xix] Walnuts moisten the intestines and lungs, helping to relieve constipation and cough with signs of cold. Due to their Omega – 3 fatty acids, they also help reduce inflammation[xx] and alleviate pain.
Medical Functions: Cardiovascular benefits,[xxi] including the improvement of blood circulation. It has also been shown that walnuts can reduce problems related to metabolic syndrome; more specifically, reducing atherosclerotic risks by lowering lipid profiles.[xxii] Lastly, they have an anti-oxidant effect.
To reap the benefits of one of nature’s greatest snacks, eat a handful of walnuts a day, or about 1oz. Enjoy!!!
4. Pumpkin (Nan Gua 南瓜)
Pumpkin flesh/meat (not canned) and pumpkin seeds are another superfood that should be incorporated into one’s diet.
In Chinese nutrition, pumpkin is sweet and warm, and has an affinity for the Stomach & Spleen organs. Its super nourishing, reinforces the middle jiao, descends counterflow Qi (belching, heartburn, etc.).
Medical Functions: Anti-carcinogenic,[xxiii] inhibits benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH),[xxiv] [xxv] anti-diabetic,[xxvi] [xxvii] anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant[xxviii] [xxix].
Cautions & Contraindications: Pumpkin does prevent the absorption of vitamin C. Information is lacking with regards to pregnancy and lactation, or any other adverse effects.
5. Chicken (Ji Rou 鸡肉)
There’s a reason why you always got a bowl of chicken soup when you were sick - it’s because chicken is very nourishing; black chicken is even more nourishing, although pretty hard to find here in the states.
Chicken nourishes the Spleen and Stomach, Tonifies the kidneys, and nourishes the Qi and blood.
Aside from regular consumption, chicken is indicated for weakness after childbirth or surgery, chronic illness, and frequent urination.
Although inconclusive, there have been a few studies that support the healing properties of chicken soup. One study surmised that chicken soup acts through an anti-inflammatory mechanism that lessens upper respiratory tract infections.[xxx] While another study suggests that there is an unknown substance that acts through the senses of taste and smell, which increases the velocity of nasal mucus.[xxxi]
Stay healthy this winter by eating foods that are warm in nature, foods that nourish, and stay away from cold/chilled foods, and especially iced drinks. Oh . . . and stay warm!
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Tongue diagnosis is an important diagnostic feature in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), because it gives the practitioner vital information about what’s going on inside the patient’s body, or in other words the functional activity as related to the organs. When morphological changes are present on the tongue they represent physiological and pathological changes within the body in terms of fluid pathology, thermal variations between hot & cold, energy levels, Qi & blood, and the severity of illness or disease. These manifest as changes in tongue vitality, shape, size, color, coating, papillae, and movement. Below I will describe the significance of one of the most common tongue features seen in Western patients - glossitis or swollen tongue (with teeth marks).
Swollen with teeth marks (scalloped)
In TCM, a swollen tongue is usually accompanied with teeth marks on the sides of the tongue, also referred to as a scalloped tongue. This pathological manifestation is associated with Spleen deficiency, Spleen Qi deficiency, and Spleen Yang deficiency with an accumulation of dampness.
It’s very common in Western patients to see Spleen deficiency, which can be caused by an improper diet, eating fast foods, fried and greasy foods, cold foods and drinks, and worrying / overthinking; all of which tax the Spleen and cause a reduction in its functional capacity of transformation & transportation.
The importance of this functional role can be seen in the Spleen’s ability to work with the Stomach to transform nutrients from food into energy, transport those nutrients to other organs and tissues of the body in the form of nourishment, and finally, to transport waste downward to be eliminated. When this metabolic mechanism is disrupted, dampness (fluid) that should have been eliminated begins to accumulate, and is reflected in a swollen image of the tongue.
In terms of biomedicine, glossitis can be a sign of nutritional deficiencies such as; iron, folate and B12 depending on the color of the tongue, although, nutritional deficiencies are not diagnosed by tongue analysis; further testing is needed, like a blood test.
Read more about the Spleen in TCM
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Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
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If you want to avoid the cold and flu this year, here are a few things you can do to boost your immune system:
1. Eat healthy - lots of vegetables and fruits (2:1), especially bright colored ones, which have lots of antioxidants.
2. Exercise the mind and the body - Both physical and mental exercise boosts the immune system.
3. Keep bundled up - always wear a scarf and cover your head. The face and neck are main points of entry for wind-cold, which carries pathogens.
4. Always wash your hands, and never touch your face, rub your eyes or pick your nose.
5. Get plenty of sleep - a lack of sleep is a sure way to deplete your immune system; it also paves the way for chronic disease.
6. Find ways to deal with stress - this is a big one, because high stress levels down-regulate the immune system.
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