It is one of my life’s missions to bring awareness about acupuncture and Chinese medicine to as many people as possible. Â Â To this end, I gave two acupuncture presentations this month; one at the Leicester Senior Center, and one to nursing students at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) in Worcester.Â As a result, there are now about 50 more people who have a greater understanding of Chinese medicine, and I hope that they will pass this information on to others.
Knowledge is the first step in allowing us to make well-informed decisions about our health.Â Educated consumers can impact our nation’s health-care system, influencing the system to provide greater support and reimbursement for complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies.
While some states have comprehensive health-insurance coverage for acupuncture, many, including Massachusetts, do not.Â Surveys in Iowa and in Washington state show that the majority of consumers believe that health coverage should include any licensed health-care professional, including CAM providers.Â Florida and British Columbia are beginning to implement programs to include acupuncture coverage in their Medicaid/ Medical Services Plans for low-income patients.
I am encouraged by these reports, because I truly believe that almost everyone can benefit from Chinese medicine to some extent.Â This medicine is an excellent complement to Western medical care and may even provide an alternative to more invasive treatments.
If you agree that health insurance in Massachusetts should cover acupuncture treatments (with full coverage, not just discounts), I encourage you to contact your insurance company and your legislators, to make your opinion known.
Chinese medicine seems to be entering the mainstream with increasing frequency.Â Now, the makers of Wrigley gum are adding Magnolia bark extract into their Eclipse brand of gum and mints.Â Laboratory studies found that the extract kills microorganisms that cause bad breath.
Magnolia bark, or Hou Po, has been part of the Chinese pharmacopeia for millennia.Â In March, I published a blog article which included information about Hou Po as a treatment for depression.
While it is gratifying to see Chinese medicine receiving recognition, there is a downside.Â According to Botanical Gardens Conservation International, many medicinal plants are being threatened by over-collection and/or deforestation.Â Magnolia is one of theseÂ vulnerable species, with more than 50% of the world’s supply at risk.Â You can read a good summary of the report from the BBC.
Let’s hope that Wm Wrigley Jr. Co. is practicing sustainable agriculture!
The five foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine are acupuncture, herbal medicine, dietary therapy, tui-na massage, and internal exercise.Â Internal exercise is the term given to tai chi and qi gong practice.Â It describes coordinated, graceful movements which are performed with a meditative mindset, with the intent of improving health and balance in the body.
While both tai chi and qi gong are used regularly as a form of healing in China, it is tai chi (a form of martial arts which is slightly more active and fast paced than qi gong) that is more familiar in the United States.Â You have probably seen a representation of tai chi in a movie or even a commercial; it is often done by a group in an outdoor setting.
Tai chi has also received attention by researchers, who have studied the exercise for a number of conditions.Â Â Tai chi may be recommended to those with balance disorders.Â It is also an excellent way to manage stress, which may explain why it has been shown to reduce tension headaches.
Other studies have shown that tai chi may be helpful in managing type II diabetes.Â It may also aid the immune system in fighting shingles in the elderly.
Since tai chi is a low-impact exercise, similar to walking, it often can be done by the elderly and can be modified for people with limited mobility.Â Because the physical demands are not intense, I also suggest it to patients with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue, as a way to incorporate exercise into their day.Â Of course, always check with your physician before starting any exercise routine.
There are many tai chi videos and DVDs available for home study.Â For beginners, taking a tai chi class with an experienced instructor will probably be most helpful.Â If you know of any tai chi courses in the Worcester area, please leave us a comment.
Researchers in Scotland have identified three chemical compounds found naturally in black tea that have insulin-like effects on cultured cells.Â Scientists hope that this finding may help lead to new diabetes medication or dietary treatments.
Since this study was performed in the laboratory, not on live subjects, it is unclear if the results would be applicable to humans.Â At this point, people with diabetes should continue their normal treatment regimen as prescribed by their physician.Â Do not attempt to self-medicate with black tea.