Does your mood improve as the daylight increases?Â Light therapy is a common treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs in the autumn and winter seasons.Â Now, scientists are studying the use of light therapy for other types of depression.Â A small study done at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center tested the effects of bright light exposure as treatment for the depression phase of bipolar disorder.Â The researchers found that light exposure at mid-day had the most promising results for improving depression symptoms. Â However, the study only had nine participants, and the light treatment had to be adjusted for each individual, so it is unclear how these results might apply to the general population.
A traditional Chinese herb is also showing promise for treating depression, according to laboratory tests.Â Researchers at Nanjing University gave Magnolia bark extracts to rats and found that the extracts had effects in the rats’ brains that were similar to those of anti-depressants.Â
Magnolia bark (Hou Po) has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for digestive disorders and lung congestion.Â It is also a chief ingredient in the classic TCM herbal formula Ban Xia Hou Po Tang, which is indicated to relieve the feeling of a lump in throat caused by pent-up emotions.Â For more information on the therapeutic effects of Magnolia, see the Chinese Medicine News.
For reasons why staying happy may lead to better health, refer to my past blog entry: Keep Your Heart Happy This Valentine’s Day.
A recent study in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia reveals that the risk of serious memory problems may be lower among seniors today than among adults who were over 70 in the 1990s.
The study suggests a number of possible reasons for this trend; higher levels of formal education and other mentally -stimulating activities may help.Â Â Better cardiovascular health, including getting medical treatment for high cholesterol and hypertension, also seems to be beneficial.Â You can find a good summary of the report in this New York Times article.
The University of Hong Kong is also investigating Alzheimer’s disease.Â Laboratory research there found that an extract of the Chinese herb Lingzhi, Reishi mushroom, helped to prevent synaptic degeneration.Â This provides preliminary evidence that Reishi may be helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease.Â Reishi mushroom has been used for centuries in China and other Asian countries as a general health tonic.
A natural supplement may also contribute to the physical health of senior citizens.Â Yale University Medical School examined the impact of vitamin E on physical function, tracking participants over the course of three years. Â Researchers found that a lower blood concentration of vitamin E correlated with poorer physical performance in the tests.Â Further research is needed to determine the proper dosage for vitamin E supplementation, since high amounts of vitamin E can be dangerous.Â
Ever since Oprah devoted a segment of her show to acupuncture in 2007, Chinese medicine seems to be getting a growing amount of attention in the mainstream media.Â The coverage extends beyond standard health reports on news programs, with acupuncturists being featured as main characters in some primetime dramas.
This year, ABC has two new shows featuring Chinese medicine.Â In Private Practice, actor Tim Daly plays Dr. Pete Wilder.Â Dr. Wilder’s character is somewhat arrogant and too casually dressed for most practices.Â However, the show makes a point of stating that he has advanced training in holistic medicine and his techniques are portrayed as helpful for many patients. Â Â In Eli Stone, the acupuncturist is Dr. Chen.Â Dr. Chen’s character plays on a common stereotypeâ€”that good acupuncturists have to be from China and act like mystics.Â Late in the first episode, the viewer finds out that Dr. Chen is actually from California, has no accent, and acts the clichÃ©d role in order to be more appealing to patients.Â Again, the show stresses Dr. Chen’s advanced holistic credentials.
While not always completely accurate, these figures do bring acupuncture to the forefront of American awareness.Â Time will tell if these media representations are enough to influence acupuncture as a profession, by persuading more people to try Chinese medicine.
Now that the writers’ strike is over and new shows will be back on the air soon, perhaps more networks will decide to showcase acupuncturists as main characters.Â Leave a comment or contact us with other instances of acupuncture in the media that you’ve noticed.
Score one for â€œold wives’ talesâ€ and folk remedies.Â The New York Times Health column is reporting that studies have found honey to be effective and safe for the healing of small burns.Â Topical use of honey even outperformed antibiotic creams for speeding healing.
In fact, the medical profession is impressed enough that at least one pharmaceutical manufacturer is now offering a honey-based medication.Â Â This article from the Associated Press appeared in the Worcester Telegram last month.Â It reports that Derma Sciences, Inc.Â has developed an antibiotic wound dressing made from manuka honey.Â Called Medihoney, scientists hope that this dressing will work even on antibiotic-resistant topical infections.
A December report also found honey to be effective in soothing children’s coughs.Â But parents should remember that honey should not be given to children under one year of age.
Honey is considered a food-grade herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).Â In small doses, it is believed to strengthen the digestive system and soothe and moisten the Lungs.Â While not traditionally used for wound healing in TCM, it is interesting to note that TCM theory states that the Lungs are responsible for the health of the skin.
I always find it noteworthy when Western scientific research â€œdiscoversâ€ something that traditional healers have used successfully for centuries.Â I believe that it is important to be an educated consumer, but I don’t think we can automatically discount everything that hasn’t been proven by Western research.