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Research on Lifestyle Shows That Your Choices Matter

Looking for Proof?

If you spend any time online, or regularly peruse a publication that includes a section on “Healthly Living”, then you’re probably just as confused as, well, everyone else. Will my daily supplement shorten my life, or extend it? Should I stop eating eggs? How can I take fish oil regularly when so much is contaminated with mercury?  Is a daily glass of wine good for my heart but bad for breast health? Is my kid hyperactive because she eats sugar, or is it because she eats corn, or is it because she is 7 years old? If I am genetically prone to high cholesterol, does it really matter if I order another Big Mac? Should I use olive oil? Canola oil? Coconut oil?  (Insert head exploding)

Some people get to the point were they are so bombarded with advice that they end up throwing in the towel. Why make modifications to your daily routine when the  recommendations on healthy living and longevity never seem consistent, and at times, seem outright conflicting?  Do lifestyle changes really matter? Or is our mortality pre-programmed in our genes? Is there a chance that no matter what we do, we’re predestined to suffer when the buzzer goes off?

I’ve heard this concern often enough that I’ve decided to blog about it. Instead of making a passionate argument that includes personal experiences, supportive research, and patient testimonials, I’ve decided that it would be more fun to consult some experts on the subject and…watch a movie!

This TEDMED video is just under 30 minutes (the amount of time you spend, once a week, FaceStalking your old college crush – be honest!).  You may not have 27 minutes to spare, but what if this 27 minutes could add 7 years to your life? How’s that for carrot-dangling? Incentives: the video includes a gurgling baby with a droopy hat, joke-making, and two doctors sharing more than 20 years of research into this exact question.

So, does it matter how you live your life, from what you eat for breakfast to what you do for fun? Yes, it does.  But they say it better in the video below. Check it out!

Dean Ornish and Deepak Chopra Speak About How To Stay Alive

Dean Ornish, M.D., is the founder and president of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California. He is Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Ornish received his medical training in internal medicine from the Baylor College of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts General Hospital. He received a B.A. in Humanities summa cum laude from the University of Texas in Austin, where he gave the baccalaureate address.

Deepak Chopra, M.D.,: Dr. Chopra is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, an adjunct professor of executive programs at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, a distinguished scholar at Columbia University, and a senior scientist with the Gallup Organization. Before establishing the Chopra Center, Dr. Chopra served as chief of staff at Boston Regional Medical Center. He received his medical degree from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and did his internship at Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield, New Jersey. He then completed various residencies and fellowships at university-affiliated medical centers in Boston.

(Dean Ornish bio from the Preventative Medicine Research Institute , Deepak Chopra bio from the Chopra Center)


Helping Our Soldiers with Acupuncture

American Military Using Acupuncture for Pain Management

Acupuncture has been gaining recognition for its ability to treat pain without any nasty side effects, and it’s appearance in the American military is steadily increasing. Recent studies show that at least 40 percent of veterans entering the VA system are coping with pain.

In August of 2009, the Army Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Eric B. Schoomaker, chartered the Army Pain Management Task Force to make recommendations for a comprehensive pain management strategy that would provide optimal quality of life for soldiers and other patients dealing with pain. The Army Pain Management Task Force includes “unconventional” modalities of pain management, like acupuncture and chiropractic care.

NPR recently did a short piece on the success of acupuncture in the American military. To read the whole story (or listen), click here.

Acupuncture Used to Treat PTSD in Veterans

Veterans of military service often suffer from PTSD (also known as ‘combat fatigue’) and other associated issues that can affect their physical and emotional health. Many cities offer free acupuncture to help veterans deal with these issues; here in Portland, Maine, a group of licensed acupuncturists provide free weekly acupuncture to veterans (and family members) who would like to employ the healing benefits of acupuncture. Check out the PVAC website (Portland Veterans’ Acupuncture Clinic) for more details.

Want to read first hand accounts on how acupuncture has helped veterans? Check out the Acupuncturists Without Borders Clinic Testemonials.


11 Ways To Treat Colds and Flu

Sick as a Dog?

You’ve been struck down by a nasty viral infection and you’re home, sick as a dog. Ever wonder why the expression exists? Well, it’s because of that disgusting tendency, common to many dogs, to eat indiscriminately… fish heads, tube socks, watermelon rinds, ice scrapers; when you put almost anything in your mouth, well….chances are that you vomit a lot.

So, you probably didn’t eat your co-worker’s tube sock, right? You probably did, however, touch your face and deliver a virus to a vulnerable mucus membrane (mouth, nose, eyes), or perhaps you happened to be lucky enough to be around when the trajectory of germs was blown from your neighbor’s infected orifice. Either way, you’re sick. So now what?

How about starting with some words of hope. Check out what this revolutionary thinker had to say about being sick:

There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before. – Henry David Thoreau

Thanks for the positive words, Henry David! So, how can we manifest these wise words, and be sure that once we’re back on our feet we’re stronger than before?  Continue reading…


Does Acupuncture Work?

I’m asked this question at least once a week, and it’s become one of my favorite questions to answer. All I have to do is mention that I am an acupuncturist in a crowd of relatively “newish” people and one of three things happens:

1. A barrage of questions.

“Does acupuncture really…work?” “Is Chinese Medicine real?” (this is normally followed by some mild pinking of the face, as the inquirer usually has the delayed realization that they are questioning the legitimacy of a practice to which I’ve devoted my life… but hey, I take no offense, and more importantly, it gives me a chance to dork out about what I love.

2. A bright eyed and bushy-tailed love.

“Oh my god, I love acupuncture! My brother didn’t poop for, like, 3 years, and then he went to see this acupuncturist and he’s been POOPING EVERY DAY SINCE. Unbelievable! So, I have this neck pain…”

Is this what you think about when someone mentions Chinese medicine?
Is this what you think about when someone mentions Chinese medicine?

3. The Acupuncture- is- Quackery Roll of the Eyes, And I Will Remain True to This Notion No Matter What You Say, Therefore I’m Going To Ignore You and Help Myself to a Large Serving of BBQ’d mini-weiners…

Truth be told, these people often become patients of mine, but arrive in my office (initially) with the proclamation that they don’t believe in what I do. In other words, I sometimes get lucky enough to help this kind of person, but usually they are in chronic or acute pain for which they have not yet found relief, and at the urging of some family member, they begrudgingly come to see me.

They almost always come back.  Dig?

Addendum (I forgot one):  This kind of scenario usually involves an older man who will look at me with amusement, call me “Hon”, and talk to me as if my head is a balloon filled with silly string: “Hey, Hon, can that ah-coo-punctsha make my wife bettah’ between the sheets?” Which, truth be told, is a question I usually interpret to mean: “Can acupuncture help with erectile dysfunction?Continue reading…


Entertaining Video About Chinese Medicine

Acupuncturists and patients alike should watch this video – cute, informative, and funny!


Warming Up from The Inside Out: A Simple and Delicious Tea

Cold Hands and Feet?

Maine winter = brrrrrrr.
Maine winter = brrrrrrr.

Hey, Mainahs, guess what? It’s freakin’ COLD out there!!!! It’s almost unbearable.

I used to be one of those people – if I caught a chill, especially in the winter, I couldn’t kick it. It was always a bit confusing to me, this inability for me to shake a chill. I don’t have a stationary job, I eat relatively well, and I exercise regularly. Shouldn’t I be… like naturally toasty? Alas, the wonderful world of Chinese medicine explained my problem with the kind of theory that makes perfect sense, and then it went ahead and provided me with some simple ways to start dealing with this winter-relevant problem.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been on the “colder” side. When I was a teenager I resorted to taking an extra shower to warm up.  I’d blast scorching water on my back for 20 minutes until the whole bathroom was fogged with steam and my mother was pounding on the bathroom door, threatening my life. I’d leave my impromptu sauna pink and warm and happy. Obviously, there were a couple of glaring problems with this method of warming up –  it was inconvenient, it was wasteful, and it made my mom turn a deep purple. But nothing else seemed to help, and if I didn’t warm up after catching a chill, I’d be nothing more than a set of chattering teeth for the rest of the day.  My back would tense up, my jaw would clench involuntarily, and I’d spend my day feeling about as flexible as a chopstick. Continue reading…


Finding Reliable, Compassionate Care

Guanyin is an East Asian deity of mercy, and a bodhisattva associated with compassion. The name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means "Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the World."
Guanyin is an East Asian deity of mercy, and a bodhisattva associated with compassion. The name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means “Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the World.”

 Got Good Healthcare?

Finding good health care and good health care practitioners is often more challenging than you’d expect. Sometimes it seems that if your symptoms don’t match a recognizable pattern, you’re probably gonna get a raised eyebrow followed by a glazing-over that’s only appropriate in the world of donuts. The raised eyebrow speaks volumes. You immediately wonder if your doctor thinks your crazy, or worse, lying.

And then, the unhelpful parting words, delivered like a Speak & Spell.

“Exercise more.”

“Consider losing some weight.”

“Perhaps a therapist would be a good choice for you.”

Of course, this isn’t everyone’s experience when they visit the doctor. And not that those suggestion above aren’t “good” advice (though, let’s be honest – it’s usually not breaking news to the person that actually inhabits the earthsuit that’s being examined). It’s just that these suggestions have to be given in the right context, and with the right kind of support.  Telling an overweight patient with an addiction to sugar that their back pain won’t go away until they drop 50 pounds is about as helpful as telling someone that they have unusually large ears. And if you follow this up with a prescription narcotic for pain – well that’s about as good as suggesting that they hide those big ears with a hat.

In the community acupuncture clinic, it’s not unusual for a patient to burst into tears when they realize that this practitioner standing in front of them actually wants to know MORE about their health issues, no matter how many, and no matter how odd. And when all of these seemingly disparate health issues can be explained in context of each other….well, hallelujah!

Continue reading…