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Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
March, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 03
What About My Brain? Part 2
Bulking Up Your Brain
By Sharon Puszko, PhD, LMT
There is so much we can do to keep our brains healthy, I had to create a part two to share the wealth of the information I came across when researching this topic, including such diverse activities as volunteerism, the study of foreign languages, working with essential oils and meditation.While each of these separately do not have a lot in common, research now shows us that they can help the brain to function at optimal levels.
I discussed some of the many ways we can attempt to delay Alzheimer's in my previous article (MT, December 2010). This information complements those ideas, and proves that the brain is not static. It can be shaped, and it can change for the better; even in senior years, the time when most people (let's face it) give up on change of any sort. Well, I'm here to tell you: DON'T! Doing fun, simple things can really help keep your brain stay young and active longer than anyone might have thought possible.
More Chatter = Brain Matter
We've all been told that being or becoming bilingual is beneficial for job hunting, but it also makes us smarter, literally. Not only are people who learn a second language before the age of five more fluent than those who learn later in life, but they also have denser gray matter in their brains. In 2004, researchers at University College London conducted a study on gray matter in three groups of people: those who learned a second language prior to turning five, those who became bilingual between the ages of 10 and 15, and those who only spoke one language.
The results showed those who spoke a second language had denser gray matter than those who did not. Specifically, the younger a person was when becoming bilingual, the more advanced their gray matter was. So it really does make a difference when children start learning a foreign language in school. It also means that it is never too late to learn a new language, as the study also shows that gray matter was denser even in those who were adults when they became bilingual.
Good Samaritan = Good Brain
Research recently published from Johns Hopkins University demonstrates that seniors who participate in volunteer activities can improve their brain function. This study, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, followed two groups of senior women: one who signed up for Experience Corps - a national program in which older adults volunteer to tutor school children - and another group who was put on a wait-list for Experience Corps. After six months, fMRIs (functional magnetic resonance imaging) of the brain were performed on both groups. The fMRIs showed enhanced abilities in the regions of the brain dedicated to planning and organizing daily activities in the volunteer group. While preliminary, this research supports the idea that volunteering and being socially active is necessary in order for seniors to maintain their mental health.
Since retirees are the largest growing group of people in the United States, it is crucial that we take their well-being seriously. On a personal note, I was excited to learn about the results of the volunteers in Experience Corps, since most of my professional work revolves around the aging population. I know how common it is for them to suffer from depression and Alzheimer's, and I am always looking for ways to help address those issues. While none of this information will "cure" ADD or Alzheimer's, it does give hope that we will continue to find ways to help us make choices that will lead to healthier, more satisfying lives.
Good Smells = Good Smarts
Smell this! As practitioners, most of us are familiar with the benefits of using essential oils and aromatherapy during massage. What I found interesting was the fact that essential oils can also be used as a treatment for ADD (attention deficit disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder). This is a growing problem in the U.S., with an estimated 20 percent of children suffering from one of these two conditions. For those who seek an alternative treatment to prescribed medication, certain essential oils have proven to calm people down and increase concentration. In 2001, Dr. Terry Friedmann conducted a study, in which he treated three groups of children with ADD/ADHD with three different essential oils: lavender, cedarwood and vetiver.
According to the reported study, "Vetiver was found to be the most effective in observations and brain wave scans - showing improvements in 100 percent of subjects. Cedarwood essential oil was 83 percent effective, and lavender 60 percent." Even if one does not have ADD or ADHD, using some of these oils that can cross the blood-brain barrier can help brain function.
Focus: It Does a Brain Good
Richard Davidson, PhD, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, conducted a study in 2004 that confirms meditation alters the chemistry and physical makeup of the brain. Using students who were not trained in meditation as the control group, and Buddhist monks with years of practice meditating as the experimental group, Davidson used brain scans and electroencephalographs (EEGs) to examine the brain while meditating.
In particular, Davidson was interested in the activity of gamma waves, important electrical impulses that produce the highest frequency. The gamma wave activity of the monks was some of the highest ever recorded, showing a correlation between years of meditation practice and strength of gamma waves. Gamma wave activity increased slightly in the control group of students, but movement of the waves through the brain in the monks was far better organized and coordinated than in the students. The monks also had more gamma wave activity than the students prior to starting the meditation.
Davidson believes this illustrates that meditation can permanently change the way the brain functions, and hopes future research will confirm this belief. His research confirms that the brain is "elastic", and can be trained to function more efficiently. It also supports the saying, "It's never too late to learn"!
Of all the fascinating articles I read on recent research on brain function, I found Davidson's article on meditation the most promising. After all, meditation does not require you to buy anything or go anywhere; it can be done wherever you are, whenever, and without money or wearing any particular outfit.
As long as you can find a place to sit quietly - or at least somewhere you can focus - you can practice meditation.
To maintain acuity - keep your brain stimulated. Involve new approaches in as many of the senses as possible. "Mental muscle" improves with exercise, so put your brain through its paces as often as possible. Select brain exercises that are challenging and fun, and try 20 minutes of exercise three times daily. Brain exercises can be found at Web sites such as Braingle.com or Billsgames.com/brain-teasers.
With these suggestions in mind, this is just a gentle reminder to take care of your noggin as well as your body.
Sharon Puszko is the owner/director/educator for Day-Break Geriatric Massage Institute. She may be contacted at
or through her Web site: www.daybreak-massage.com.
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