resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
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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