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Is Sham Acupuncture Just The Same As Real Acupuncture When It Comes To Relief and Management of Pain?

February 19, 2017

The wealth of scientific research that has been and is being done into acupuncture’s use for various health conditions attests to the legitimacy and potentiality of this treatment, especially for the treatment and management of pain. Much of those studies however have led to the conclusion that acupuncture usually does not outperform sham therapy which calls into question the legitimacy of the treatment itself.

Traditional acupuncture is a procedure that uses thin tiny needles stuck into certain points on the body known as acupoints. Chinese medicine believes that these acupoints are located just above energy channels called meridians in the body. When a blockage develops along the meridians pain and disease develop. The needles are used to remove the blockage to once more allow the free movement of energy in the body. Western medical researchers believe that the mechanism of action is either the stimulation of blood flow or the stimulation of nerves in the body.

The reason why the effectiveness of sham therapy calls into question the legitimacy of real acupuncture is that this implies that whatever benefits are gained from the procedure can be attributed to the placebo effect alone. However, more studies into sham therapy – and, especially, people who gained good results from it – shows that this type of therapy may actually possess pain relieving qualities of its own.

One study suggested that the sensitivity of people to pain may be a factor in knowing whether sham acupuncture was effective (or not) for them. People suffering from systemic pain conditions like fibromyalgia, can find relief from treatments that stimulate sensations in the body designed to reduce pain. Since less sensation in the body is stimulated by sham acupuncture, the conductors of the study believed that only patients with high pain sensitivity would be ideal test subjects for sham acupuncture, since these patients require less stimulation to experience results.

A total of 50 women all suffering from fibromyalgia participated in the study. They were divided into either a traditional acupuncture treatment group or sham group. Prior to the start of the treatment, the pain sensitivity of the participants was measured through a test that exerted pressure on their thumbs, which the participants rated. The neurochemical levels associated with pain sensation were also measured by the researchers. After treatment the thumb pressure test was administered. In sham acupuncture treatment, the needles did not penetrate the skin. This procedure consisted of a gentle pricking with the needles.

The participants who manifested more sensitivity to pain experienced much better improvements in pain sensitivity after sham treatment, compared to the participants who had low sensitivity to begin with, at the end of the study. Both low-sensitivity and high-sensitivity patients had comparable outcomes for traditional acupuncture.

The study showed that using subjects with a high degree of pain sensitivity aren’t likely to produce marked differences in efficacy between real and sham acupuncture treatments. It also indicates that people with high pain sensitivity may need a less intensive form of acupuncture compared to those with less pain sensitivity. Chronic pain sufferers should consider acupuncture in Fort Lauderdale as a worthwhile option to help manage their pain.

Infertility is One Condition Best Treated with Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine

March 17, 2016

In order for the traditional Chinese medicine treatment of infertility in Louisville to work well, both acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas need to be used. The main objective of this type of treatment is to restore balance in the body through the use of these two modalities as they help repair the disharmony that underlies the condition.

Also, to help boost the effectiveness of conventional modes of treatment for infertility, alternative sources of treatment such as acupuncture and/or traditional Chinese medicine need to be combined with the conventional therapies. These two different medical systems can be combined if all forms of treatment have been exhausted in order to boost the chances of an infertile person to conceive.

Having existed for thousands of years, acupuncture has been used in different cultures as a way of treating many forms of health conditions. This treatment aids in the regulation of blood flow through the stimulation of the central nervous system as neuro-hormones and neurotransmitters are released into the bloodstream to help heal the body.

Acupuncture helps produce and release endorphins, the body’s own painkilling chemicals that help to stop pain leading to a feeling of wellness. In East Asia and many countries In the West, acupuncture is utilized to heal a wide range of conditions. The connection of this treatment to infertility is still further being studied.

It may seem an odd way of treating infertility, but acupuncture is really a very popular choice of treatment for a growing number of infertile patients. The notion that acupuncture needles generate pain when they are inserted in the skin is just not true. The needle insertion may cause discomfort but never pain and it is an important part of the treatment of infertility. The discomfort may be akin to an ant bite; overall, however, acupuncture is virtually a painless procedure.

Infertility treatment using acupuncture is quite effective because a person’s body possesses pathways of energy known as meridians. These meridians are the vessels that convey a life force known as chi energy throughout the body and below the surface of the skin. When blockages develop inside the meridians, chi flow slows down, acupuncture is used to speed up the flow and remove the obstructions in the affected meridians. With the release of chemicals into the spinal cord, brain, and muscle, healing is in process. Fertility treatments that produce inferior results are unable to provide the same type of results that acupuncture is known to give.

Before you start on an actual alternative form of treatment such as herbal medicine or acupuncture, you need to consult with your infertility doctor first and found out if the reason for your infertility is not due to structural factors. If this is the case, then no amount of herbs you use or acupuncture treatment you undergo will help resolve your problem.

If it is deemed that herbs and acupuncture can help treat your infertility, then the objective of the treatment is to treat the underlying disharmonies in the three organs usually associated with infertility: the liver, spleen, and kidney. Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture are used to treat these three organs and this will impact directly the reproductive organs as they are also intimately connected to the kidney, spleen, and liver.

Herbal supplements can help resolve the disharmonies that lead to infertility. These supplements can also relieve anxiety and stress which is important in increasing the chances of conception.

Acupuncture is most effective when factors such as hormonal imbalances are to blame for infertility; however, the treatment might not work in a blocked fallopian tube which is a structural issue that causes infertility. The flow of blood is enhanced and the hormonal system regulated with acupuncture. This will give the body adequate time to recover especially with regards to hormone imbalance. Studies have shown that acupuncture is a most ideal treatment after conventional form of treatment have been tried and when it (acupuncture) is combined with other forms of conventional and alternative therapies

When used for treating infertility, some herbal supplements can impact the effect of infertility pills, and so before you use these supplements it is highly advised to talk to your doctor first. In In-vitro fertilization treatment, acupuncture can be used with extreme effectiveness as it helps calm the body and alleviate anxiety, which greatly adds to the chance of success of the in vitro fertilization treatment.

You can be sure that when it comes to treating infertility, acupuncture is one the best alternative forms of treatments you can opt for. But it is better to research more about this treatment first and how it helps resolve several infertility issues. Knowing more about acupuncture can help you appreciate its use as a treatment for infertility either as a standalone treatment or as a complement to alternative and conventional forms of treatment such as IVF.

Low Blood Pressure Complications

December 5, 2013

Low blood pressure even in its moderate form can not only result in weakness and dizziness but also can cause fainting episodes that may result in great risk of injury from falls. A severe type of low blood pressure can cause even more serious complications like the reduction of the amount of oxygen your body takes in so much so that the body is not healthy enough to perform its normal functions resulting in damage to your brain and heart.

Some very serious complications associated with low blood pressure or hypotension arises from shock caused by severe illness or injury. They may include:

Loss of consciousness – Temporary loss of consciousness may occur because of anemia especially if the patient’s blood is severely deficient in hemoglobin or iron. In the case of accident or injury, these can cause one to lose consciousness, either from the shock experienced due to blood loss or injury or due to the pain caused by the injury. When loss of blood is not compensated (by transfusion) or if the injuries are left to linger without proper treatment, it may lead to coma or death.

Coma – This may occur from a very serious injury that leads to shock, substantial loss of blood and damage to the major organs (especially to the brain).

Death – A hypotensive person who has suffered from a very serious injury resulting in shock, severe blood loss and irreversible damage to the organs usually ends up dying. A hypotensive person suffering from multiple organ failure caused by a very serious illness or injury and subsequent shock may also end up dying.

 Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
41 Union Square West, Suite 519
New York, NY 10003
Phone: 212-894-0767

Influenza – Lifestyles and Home Remedies

October 27, 2013

The following are some home remedies and lifestyle and suggestions that can help in reducing and accelerating treatment of your influenza symptoms:

  • Gargle with salt water – Doing this helps resolve your sore throat.
  • Slippery elm – This herb has been reported to relieve sore throat and cough. You can take in slippery elm by eating candy that has slippery elm as one of its ingredients.
  • Shower with warm water – The steam from the warm water can melt the mucus in the airways clearing them and the sinuses up.
  • Garlic – This herb is widely known to possess anti-bacterial and even antiviral properties that help you get relief from your upper respiratory congestion. You can put raw garlic in your meals or eat them raw.
  • Chicken soup – Put pepper in your hot chicken soup as well as garlic and hot curry powder to help loosen the mucus in your mouth and throat
  • Heat compress – If your stuffy nose is aggravated by a severe headache, you can apply a moist and warm compress to the cheek and sinuses to lessen these symptoms
  • Lemon – Chop the lemon and place the lemon together with its seeds and skin in boiling water. Allow it to boil for about 5 minutes. You can inhale the steam to melt the mucus in your airways. Strain the mixture and allow it to cool down. To make it tasty add some honey and drink the mixture. Lemon has varied benefits for a person’s health including anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties that are important for treating flu symptoms.
  • Honey – Honey can likewise help dilute mucus. You can drink a glass of warm water and mix it with a tablespoon of honey and drink it. Honey is widely believed to be a potent remedy for the symptoms of flu
  • Ginger – This spice/herb has great anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory attributes that aid in battling viral infection in the body
  • Turmeric – This herb can be taken two times a day by adding a teaspoonful to milk and drinking it. Turmeric has great antibacterial and antiviral properties that help bring relief in flu symptoms. It can also stimulate the liver which becomes weak when a person becomes sick
  • Thyme – Boil water with a tablespoon of thyme for 5 minutes. Then inhale the steam and when the mixture cools down add honey. Strain the mixture and drink it. This helps loosen infected mucus enabling you to cough it out
  • Mustard – This plant contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory attributes that can be inhaled (through steam) when boiled with water or by other means. You can also make a mustard paste by mixing lukewarm water with 4 tablespoons wheat flour and a tablespoon of dry mustard. Apply the paste on a clean dry cloth that can cover your chest area. Put a little olive oil on your chest and put the cloth with the paste in it on your chest. Leave the cloth there for a few minutes then remove it. Wash yourself to remove any traces of the paste
  • Long Pepper – Mix half a tsp of ginger juice, 2 tbsp honey and half a tsp of long pepper powder. You can drink this mixture three times a day to protect yourself from throat complications. This mixture can greatly reduce the severity of your flu symptoms.
  • Nasal irrigation – This is often done with a neti pot. Put a few salt in boiling water and put the solution into a sterilized bottle. Allow the water to cool down and afterwards apply two to three drops of this solution using a dropper in one of your nostril. The solution melts the mucus making it easier to blow it out. You can use a neti pot that is widely available in the market. This is an effective and very safe way to resolve nose blockages.

Lifestyle/ Diet Recommendation to Treat Flu Symptoms

  • Maintain good hygiene – Keeping yourself and your surroundings clean is essential to prevent infecting yourself and others from the flu.
  • Stay hydrated
  • Abstain from taking in caffeine
  • Avoid sugar
  • Take in mega doses of vitamin C
  • Stop drinking alcohol
  • Humidify yourself
  • Adequate rest
  • Stop eating processed, highly seasoned and junk foods
  • Drink boiled water
  • Properly ventilate your room

DeJongh Acupuncture Clinic
2929 SW 3rd Ave #610
Miami, FL 33129
(305) 677-3214

Anemia – Risk Factors

October 21, 2013

Anemia due to iron deficiency often is the result of poor nutrition in people. About 2 billion individuals in the world suffer from this type of anemia and in the United States the lack of iron in the body is the number one type of nutritional deficiency in this country. Iron-deficiency anemia often goes hand in hand with poverty and people in the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder have twice the chances of acquiring anemia than people in the upper or middle class.

In the United States and the rest of the world, it is young children who are at the highest chances for developing iron deficiency anemia; women in their premenopausal phase are next. Those with the lowest risk for this type of anemia include postmenopausal females and adult and adolescent males.


In the US about 20% of children can develop anemia during their childhood and up to adolescence. The percentage is higher for children in third world countries (80%).   Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia found in children. Still, there are other different types of anemia that can affect children; anemia caused by hereditary blood conditions is one of them.

For children two years old and younger around 9% suffer from iron deficiency but only 3% of kids in this age bracket have anemia. All children are prone to getting anemia but the lower the income of the family, the higher the risk of children developing iron deficiency.

In the United States, infants who are 9 to 18 months old are the age group with the highest possibility of developing iron-deficiency anemia. Infant males are 10 times likelier to develop iron deficiency anemia than female infants. Infants who are breast fed can rely on their mother’s milk to supply them with enough iron up to the time they reach 6 months old. Beyond that they need to avail of other food sources for their essential iron requirements.

In small children and infants the likely causes for their iron-deficiency anemia can include factors such as:

  • Breastfeeding stoppage too soon or utilizing milk formula that does not contain iron
  • Prolonged bottle-feeding – Research has determined that toddlers a year old and above should refrain from drinking more than a cup of milk a day. Unlike mother’s milk, cow’s milk contains lower amounts of iron and drinking it too much can make the babies lose their appetite and hinder them from taking in foods rich in iron which they really need.

Usually toddlers would find foods rich in iron unpalatable. Nevertheless, parents should ensure that these babies eat foods laden with iron including:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Fortified cereals
  • Meat
  • Beans

Pre-menopausal Women

The rate of adult and adolescent females suffering from iron deficiency is around 10%. Only 3% of adolescent females are likely to become anemic though. If ever adolescent women experience anemia, it may be because of some of the following factors:

  • Pregnancy – The rate of iron deficiency among pregnant females in the industrialized world is about 20%. Multiple pregnancies heighten the risk of pregnant women having iron deficiency anemia.
  • Abnormal bleeding in the uterus – This may be due to uterine fibroids
  • Massive menstruation lasting 5 days or more

Older Adults

The rate of anemia sufferers among adults 65 years of age and above is about 10%.  Around half of the older people staying in nursing homes are anemic. Older adults develop due to the following factors:

  • Chronic renal disease
  • Chronic inflammatory disease
  • Nutritional deficiencies


People who regularly drink alcohol can develop anemia in three ways:

  • Hemorrhage
  • Lack of vitamin B
  • Lack of folate

Iron-Poor Diets

Most Americans love to eat meat. Still, there are instances when people can likely develop iron deficiency because of their diet choices. Iron deficiency can develop when:

  • People often eat processed foods that may incredibly be bereft of real meat
  • The person is a vegan – A vegan is a person that exclusively feeds on non meat and non dairy diets. A diet without meat often is lacking in iron vitamin B and iron.  Green vegetables and dried beans do contain iron, but they take more time to be absorbed by the body than meat

Serious or Chronic Illnesses

If a person suffers from a chronic ailment that entails bleeding or inflammation, then that person will be a good candidate in developing anemia. Critical or serious illness of a patient in the ICU (intensive care unit) can likely include some form of anemia.

Too Much Exercise

Regular workout may have a lot of health and fitness benefits but at a minor cost: loss of iron that is equivalent to iron loss due to menstruation. The common cause for sports anemia is poor diet choices. Sports anemia can also come from sustained and intense, exercises such as a marathon run and the underlying factors that cause this problem can include:

  • Poor absorption of iron by the intestines
  • Low intake of iron
  • Impaired  RBCs (red blood cells)
  • Slight hemorrhage of the gastrointestinal tract


Iron deficiency is experienced by around 20% of pregnant females in developed countries. Sadly about half and even more of females in non-industrialized nations lack in iron, and about 30% to 50% are lacking in folic acid. A high death rate and severe anemia go together among pregnant females although light to fair anemia do not really pose any heightened risk.

Pregnancy heightens the risk of anemia by:

  • Enhancing the body’s need for more folic acid increasing the chances for deficiencies as well as increasing likelihood for megaloblastic anemia
  • Enhances the body’s need for iron increasing the chance for iron-deficiency anemia Increasing the intake of iron to at least 30 mg per day due to the placenta’s increasing size and weight
  • Creating large amounts of plasma which can lead to the dilution of red blood cells and eventually causing anemia.


Brent Keime is a licensed acupuncturist and the founder of Brent Keime, LAc, MSTOM in San Diego, CA.


Back Pain Treatments and Drugs

October 6, 2013

When the physician has diagnosed your back problem, then the next step is for him to create a treatment plan for you.  Sometimes your treatment plan may entail more than one procedure to treat your condition most effectively. Your treatment plan may entail, for example, a combination of regular massages, physical therapy and prescription medications to make it maximally effective.

The kind of treatment you will be getting for your back pain will be based on the cause and severity of the pain. One of the most common procedures for back pain is medication which quickly relieves your pain albeit transitorily.

Prescribed Medications for Back Pain

Prior to prescribing your medications, the doctor will need to know the other medications you’re presently taking.  This is important to help him prescribe to you other drugs that will not harmfully interact with your other medications.

Opioids – Opioids are given for severe types of back pain. These kinds of drugs like morphine are administered under a physician’s careful supervision and are used to manage chronic pain.

Anti-depressants – Antidepressants work by blocking pain receptors from reaching your brain.

These are effective pain blockers that are used to relieve chronic back pain.

Muscle relaxants – If you are suffering from chronic back pain caused by muscle spasms, then relaxing these muscles is one way to relieve this type of pain.

Over-the-Counter Medications for Back Pain

Over-the-counter drugs are also useful in relieving many types of back pain and are ideal for the treatment of acute back pain.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs – Aspirin and ibuprofen are the most common forms of these drugs and they are good at reducing not only pain but inflammation as well.
Acetaminophen – This type of drug, Tylenol being one example, is good at relieving body pain including back pain; however it is useless at addressing inflammation.

Spinal Injections for Back Pain Treatment

Spinal injections are other effective ways to give relief for back pain.

Epidural steroid injection – This is a powerful injection that delivers steroids to battle inflammation of the nerve root. The doctor usually administers two or three injections to the affected part of the back. Three injections is usually the maximum dose since side effects can develop if more than three is given.

Other injections – These can include facet joint injection for the relief of spinal arthritis pain, mechanical back stress or back injury pain.

Other Treatments for Back Pain

Spinal injections and medications are the most common conventional treatments for back pain. Other alternative back pain treatments that can prove just as effective to address your back pain include:

  • Exercise – This exercise can involve stretching or light walking. They are very effective relievers of back pain and can make the back strong and healthy. They also enable you to manage your back pain effectively and prevent it from worsening.
  • Spinal bracing – The use of a spinal brace is to protect a spine suffering from, say, spinal fracture from worsening. It helps to control back pain by curtailing unnecessary and extreme movements and to stabilize your spine.
  • Physical therapy – Physical therapy or PT for short, adopts various kinds of techniques to address back pain.  These therapies include the use of cold and hot therapies among many others.
  • Chiropractic care – This is a specialized form of spinal cord treatment that addresses many kinds of back pain and back problems and safeguards the back from worsening its already bad condition.
  • Alternative therapies – Some of the most effective alternative back pain treatments include physiotherapy to help relieve muscle pain and inflammation.
  • Acupuncture – Acupuncture involves the use of sterilized and very thin non hollow needles inserted at certain points in the body.  Many back sufferers have reported long term pain relief from their acupuncture therapy.
  • Yoga – Yoga has many poses and postures and basically all of them involve relaxation techniques and breathing exercises.  Studies have shown that yoga provides back pain sufferers some kind of relief from their pain.

If all these treatments prove unfruitful in addressing your back pain, one other radical form of treatment you can try is back surgery. It is up to your doctor to decide whether this course of action is really needed for your condition.

It is always important to talk about all your treatment choices with your doctor so you may choose the best treatment plan for yourself.

Coping with Dry Skin

September 29, 2013

Listed below are some healthy advices on how to properly deal with your dry skin problem.

Use cool water to bathe or shower – Cool water as opposed to cold water should be water under normal temperature. Mildly warm water can also be used as long as it is not warm or hot enough to strip away the natural oil in your skin.

Drink lots of water – Keep your body hydrated by drinking 8 glasses of water each day. If you can’t stand drinking this much amount of water, you can drink fruit juices or some herbal tea instead, these keep your skin moist without you needing to buy skin care products.

Keep your skin moisturized – Keeping your skin moist and supple is the most important thing you can do for your skin. You need to at least keep your skin moist for two times a day. You need to use the best moisturizer for your skin. A lot of people do not follow this as they argue that doing so will make their face oily. The truth is it does not make the face oily.  It actually prevents the premature aging of the skin and makes the skin more supple.

Live a healthy lifestyle – Cigarette smoking, drug abuse and alcoholism will not only give you skin problems it will destroy your health and oftentimes your life as well.  If you are abusing substances you may need to seek help to detoxify your body and help you shun these addictive substances.

Try to relax – Try to relax your body by getting a massage that will also benefit your skin. The oil that is used during massage can keep your skin lubricated and supple. You can also opt for acupuncture to help yourself relax and remove any pain you may have. Acupuncture also enables you to get good quality sleep which is both beneficial for your skin and your whole body. You can also avail skin rejuvenating procedures from beauty salons.

These are just some of the ways to deal well with your dry skin problem. Dry skin is really an easy condition to resolve and the aforementioned advices will help you maintain a perfectly moisturized skin.

Vickery Health & Wellness
18455 Burbank Blvd #306
Tarzana, CA 91356
(818) 578-6730

Bronchitis – Preparing for your Appointment

September 21, 2013

If you have lingering symptoms of bronchitis, you need to make an appointment with your doctor so you may be correctly diagnosed and get the required treatment. If after a couple of weeks of treatment your symptoms do not get better, you may need to return to your physician as they may point to a worse underlying condition. Also, if during two weeks of treatment your symptoms seem to be worsening, you need to also see your doctor again.  The serious symptoms that should prompt you to go back for another appointment can include:

  • Swollen ankles and/or feet
  • Continuous high fever
  • Breathing problems while lying down or at rest
  • Blue-colored lips and skin
  • Blood in mucus or sputum

These signs can be that of a different and worse condition or bronchitis complications.

Listing Down your Bronchitis Symptoms

In preparing for your appointment with your doctor, one of the best things you can do is to prepare a list of symptoms you have experienced. This list can aid you in answering questions the physician may question you during your first exam. You need to assess if you indeed are experiencing any of the following symptoms related to bronchitis:

  • Wheezing or other uncommon sounds when you breathe
  • Recent cold or flu
  • Greenish or yellowish thick mucus
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue that disrupts your regular activities
  • Breathing difficulty when climbing up the stairs or walking
  • Coughing that begins in the morning and persists or becomes severe for the rest of the day
  • Pain in the chest when taking deep breaths or coughing

Added to these symptoms, should be other pertinent information about your health history and your family’s as well. Other information you can include in this list should mention if you or if someone in your immediate family suffers or has suffered from:

  • Other respiratory problems
  • High cholesterol
  • Lung, kidney or heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Asthma or other breathing issues
  • Allergies that need treatment

Your doctor will have questions to ask you as well and some of them may be about your lifestyle choices that may have helped develop your bronchitis. Some of the lifestyle choices that may have caused you bronchitis can include:

  • Tobacco smoking
  • Exposure to second hand tobacco smoke
  • Exposure to pollutants like chemicals
  • Exposure to too much dust

In the Doctor’s Office

When you come for your first appointment, the doctor will likely listen to your lungs using a stethoscope. The doctor may also require you to do certain breathing tests and undergo a chest X-ray.

You may want to ask your doctor certain questions regarding your complaint. These questions may include:

  • Can certain breathing exercises better my condition?
  • Do I need to undergo tests to ascertain that I have bronchitis?
  • Do I have chronic or acute bronchitis?
  • Do I need to completely stop smoking or can I just cut back on it?
  • Do you think I have emphysema or asthma?
  • Do I need to get a flu shot?
  • Is my bronchitis bacterial or viral?
  • What do I need to avoid in order not to get bronchitis again?
  • What short term treatments can I avail of to better my breathing?
  • Will you prescribe antibiotics for my problem?
  • Will these antibiotics alter my diet?

Diagnostic Questions

When he has determined you have bronchitis, your doctor will talk about treatment choices and make suggestions for the best treatment plan for you. The doctor should do his best to completely help you understand your diagnosis so you may have a good idea of the effects of the medicines as well as the lifestyle changes you need to adapt to.

Your doctor should give you answers to the following questions that are based on your own particular case:

  • Do I need an inhaler?
  • Are there exercises I should not perform?
  • What is my long-term prognosis?
  • Do I need to consult with a specialist?
  • Are there any oxygen therapies you can recommend?
  • What medicines do I need to take? What side effects do they have?
  • Will a vaporizer be helpful?
  • What over-the-counter drugs do I need to take?
  • Will some of the prescribed medicines interact with my other ongoing supplements or medicines?
  • Will quitting smoking better my symptoms?

Bringing along someone to accompany you to your appointment can be helpful since your companion can write down what the doctor says and he can also remember some of the information you may have missed telling your doctor.

Your doctor in turn will have corresponding questions to ask you that will help him diagnose your problem accurately. Some of the questions may be like these:

  • When did you first notice your symptoms?
  • Describe your symptoms. Have they been infrequently or frequently occurring?
  • Have your symptoms affected your work performance or your sleep?
  • Are you a smoker? Are you a heavy smoker? How long have you smoked?
  • Do you feel much weaker now than you have been last year?
  • Are you still able to walk as fast as you used to?    Do you have a hard time climbing a flight of stairs? Do you do regular exercise?
  • What factors make your symptoms worse?
  • What factors make your symptoms improve?
  • Do your symptoms get worse in cold air?
  • Do you get a flu shot every year?
  • Were you already vaccinated for pneumonia prevention? If yes, when?


Causes of PMS

September 21, 2013

The real cause of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is not yet fully known, though many likely factors can be responsible for its symptoms. These factors may involve:

Hormone changes – Your hormone levels (progesterone and estrogen) fluctuate during your menstrual cycle. These hormonal changes are considered to be the biggest reasons for your PMS symptoms. The improvement of your PMS symptoms during pregnancy and after your menopause when your levels of hormone are stable validates this theory.

Chemical changes – As with your hormone levels, there are specific brain chemicals like serotonin that rises up and down during your menstrual cycle. Since serotonin is a chemical that causes you to feel happy and also one that regulates your mood, women with low serotonin levels are especially prone to PMS symptoms. Certain symptoms may also come about when serotonin levels are low. These symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Food cravings
  • Fatigue

Lifestyle factors

Exercise and weight – If you perform no or very little exercise and if you have a body mass index of 30 or more (which means you are considered obese), then you are very likely to develop PMS.

Stress – As you get more and more stressed, your likelihood of getting PMS becomes high and if you already have PMS, its symptoms then only becomes worse. Stress is not a direct cause for PMS but it can surely aggravate its symptoms.

Diet – Consuming a lot of certain foods while eating little of others can also be a contributive factor for PMS. Eating a lot of salty foods, for example, can cause fluids to accumulate in your body and cause bloating. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol can interfere with your energy levels and your mood. Low levels of minerals and vitamins can likewise cause your PMS symptoms to worsen.

PMDD Causes

Like PMS, the cause of PMDD or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is also unknown although it is theorized that PMDD (as with PMS) can come about due to the interaction of hormones (like progesterone and estrogen) coming from the ovaries at various stages in the menstrual cycle with neurotransmitters located in the brain. The ovarian levels of hormone of women with PMDD may be normal but the response of the brain to the fluctuation of these hormones is abnormal.

Studies done indicate that PMDD and PMS are not caused by specific personality types or personality traits. Like PMS stress is not considered to be one reason of PMDD. Stress is rather likely to be the result of PMDD or PMS symptoms. Nutritional deficiencies like lack of vitamins in the body have not been observed to cause PMDD or PMS symptoms either.

Dr. Jack Handlin is an experienced acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist and oriental reproductive medicine specialist at Tree of Life Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine in Bellevue, WA.

Anxiety – Preparing for Your Appointment

September 13, 2013

If you feel that your anxiety is starting to affect your physical health, it may be time to go and see your doctor for treatment. Your doctor will look for symptoms and signs of the primary cause of your anxiety and find treatment for it.

If you suffer from extreme anxiety, you may need the service of a specialist instead of your family doctor.  The specialist may be a psychiatrist who is a medical doctor in his own right. The job of a psychiatrist is diagnosing and treating mental health issues. The job of a psychologist, on the other hand, and similar types of health specialists is to diagnose anxiety and other mental problems; however, instead of giving treatment they offer counseling instead.

Listed below are some things you need to do to make you better prepared for your psychiatrist or psychologist appointment, and the things the specialist may do and/or ask you.

Things you can do:

Make a list of your symptoms and signs of anxiety.  Describe what happens to you when you feel anxious. Are you filled with worries? Do you feel nauseous, get palpitations in your heart or get dizzy?

In your writing, include the time you feel anxious. Make a record the times of the day when anxiety strikes you as well as the events, places and situations when you are more anxious than normal.

In your note, list down the biggest stressors in your life – Are you in the midst of a life change like a new job, relocation, divorce, new baby, marriage or the loss of a loved one? Are some past traumatic experiences keep on recurring in your mind?

Write down the length of time you’ve had your anxiety. Is it a recent problem or something you have dealt for many years now?

You can list the medical conditions besides your anxiety that you now have including the one that you consider petty or minor.

You need to also jot down the medications you are presently taking. Include the vitamins, herbal meds or teas, supplements, minerals, prescribed and OTC medications you are taking on a regular basis.

This information can be very helpful to your specialist and make it easy to properly diagnose your anxiety and give you a better understanding of the reasons for your anxiety.

You can also write down a list of questions you want answered by your specialist or doctor.  In addition to information about you, you may also want to write down any questions you have in order to be able to actually ask them instead of forgetting all or some of them during the time of your appointment itself.

Questions You Can Ask your Specialist

  • Will the signs and symptoms of my anxiety return in the future?
  • Is there a big chance for recovery if I follow your treatment course?
  • How soon can I feel the effects of the treatment once I’ve started the treatment plan?
  • Do I need to change some or all of my lifestyle to be able to remove my anxiety symptoms?
  • Can therapy help my case? What kind of therapy should I undergo? Can you recommend a good therapist to help treat my anxiety problems?
  • What medications to I need to take for my anxiety? Will they be taken only when needed or on a daily basis? How long do I need to take them?
  • What are the side effects of these drugs? Will these side effects disappear immediately or not? What side effects are deemed serious enough for you (the doctor) to warrant its discontinuance?
  • Can you recommend some things that can help neutralize the side effects of my medications?
  • What are the medical options I have for my anxiety problems?
  • What is your diagnosis for my condition?

Questions the Specialist May Ask You

  • Do you take recreational drugs?
  • Do you drink alcohol?
  • Are there things that make you less anxious or feel good?
  • Do you avoid people or situations that may make you anxious?
  • Do you have triggers to your anxiety?
  • How long have you been feeling your anxiety?
  • Are you worrying or feel anxious occasionally or regularly?
  • Do you experience panic attacks?
  • Are your anxiety symptoms affecting your daily activities?
  • What are your symptoms? How serious are they?
  • Do you have insurance? Will it cover your treatment?
  • Do you suffer from associated conditions you may be aware of?
  • Do you or any members of your family have a history of anxiety or any kind of mental health conditions?

What to Expect During your Appointment?

For diagnosing your anxiety, the doctor/specialist will perform on you a thorough physical examination and require you to undergo some lab tests. This is done to determine whether or not your anxiety is derived from physical causes. He will most likely ask you a number of questions which some have been listed in this writing a while ago.  Some of the doctor’s questions may be from information which you have provided.

The doctor will pay close attention to your answers and can furnish you with advices and recommendations to help you better handle your anxiety symptoms.  By doctor, we do not mean your family doctor but a specialist like a psychologist or psychiatrist that specializes in the diagnosing and treatment of mental health issues.

Alida van Heerden is a licensed New York acupuncturist and a NADA certified acupuncture detoxification specialist.