Tag Archives: Chinese alternative medicine

Johns Hopkins Advocates Integrated Cancer Care

 

Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and hisks
Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and hisks

Johns Hopkins Advocates Integrated Cancer Care

For those who were not able to attend the webinar put on by Johns Hopkins Medicine on December 17th, following please find my notes and ramblings from that webinar.  I hope you find them useful.

The webinar was titled Integrative Medicine: How Acupuncture, The Mind/Body Connection, Holistic Eating and Chinese Medicine and Other Modalities Can Help Survivors During and After Treatment.  Which is kind of a long-winded title, but they wanted to tell you exactly what they’d be covering and that title does the trick

Webinar Overview

The webinar was presented by Dr Linda Lee and Mr Jeff Gould and it ran for about an hour.  Dr Lee spoke about how the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine Center viewed integrative medicine as being the best of scientific medicine with a broader understanding of the nature of illness, that integrative medicine enhanced conventional medicine rather than replacing it.  They preferred the term “integrative” rather than “alternative” or “complementary” because alternative seeks an “alternate” approach to conventional medicine, it connotes a turning away, while the term complementary was too broad.

The Johns Hopkins website further defines integrative medicine: “Integrative medicine encompasses a broad range of therapeutic approaches to achieve optimal health and wellness for those who are ill or those who are concerned about disease prevention. It is a powerful resource for those seeking to participate actively in their healthcare.”

A Holistic Diet for Cancer Patients

Dr Lee spoke first and discussed holistic eating quite simply – she quoted author Michael Pollan, whose advice was to “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  I loved that – it says so much so succintly!

Dr Lee warned us against eating highly processed foods and too many food additives.  She said we should try not to eat too much meat, especially beef, and that we should strive for a balanced approach in our food choices.  Volumes could be written (and have been) about the best nutrition for cancer patients – for more definitive information, see my page Diet and Cancer.

Dr Lee addressed the concerns of those going through chemotherapy, she had some good advice for what to eat when you don’t feel like eating, for those taste bud issues and digestive problems.  She advised using a blender or food processor (I would say JUICER) and put your food into that.

She had no real recommendations about WHAT to put in the blender – other than you wouldn’t put a spaghetti dinner in there, for instance.  She just said it’s easier to process liquid foods like smoothies and shakes.  She recommended having multiple small meals, rather than 3 bigger meals per day.  Dr Lee recommended the book One Bite At A Time – Nourishing Recipes for Cancer Survivors and Their Friends by Rebecca Katz, which I’ve added to my Recommended Reading list.

I’ll go a little farther than these recommendations and direct you to my article Do You Know The Benefits of Juicers For Cancer Patients.

Dietary Myths in Cancer

Dr Lee discussed some of the dietary myths she had encountered from her patients – we’ll start with the myth, then Dr Lee’s refutal:

  1. Avoid sugar because it feeds cancer – this one surprised me because I do advocate avoiding sugar if you have active cancer in your body.  Dr Lee disagreed, saying a moderate amount of sugar is okay, it won’t cause your cancer to get bigger.  So, I’ve softened my stance on this a little bit and found a good article for you that discusses moderation.
  2. Eat whatever foods you want and as much of them as you like – eating as much as you like of something isn’t advisable if you’re undergoing chemotherapy and having digestive issues, smaller meals are better.
  3. Eat fried foods because they will give you more calories if you’ve lost weight during cancer treatment – Dr Lee advised fried foods are NOT a good idea because they increase nausea.
  4. Being overweight is better than being underweight – Not true for breast cancer, Dr Lee says.  Fat cells create estrogen and if you had/have estrogen receptor positive tumor(s) being overweight can actually cause more problems for you.

Vitamin Supplements

Dr Lee advised caution when taking vitamins – because adverse affects are not always known and they may have interactions with some of the drugs you are on.  She did not have anything against taking vitamins, she merely advised caution, suggesting a person see an herbalist or dietician for guidance (I’d say see a trained naturopath) and always let your oncologist know what you are doing.  Dr Lee suggested referring to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website.

Mind/Body Approach

My favorite part of the webinar was the discussion of how using mind/body medicine can help cancer patients.  Dr Lee went out on a limb and said that STRESS CAN AFFECT CANCER GROWTH.  I’ve been saying this for years and I was so glad to hear someone from the medical world acknowledge and affirm this.

Dr Lee advised that chronic emotional stress can have a negative impact on cancer, and she discussed how the hormones released during stressful periods affect inflammation, cellular immune response and other key factors and that getting stress treated was really important.  She advocated the use of one or more of the following therapies (all of which I also recommend on this site and in my newsletters):

  • yoga
  • meditation
  • tai chi
  • massage
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy
  • guided imagery
  • hypnotherapy
  • support groups
  • journaling
  • exercise

I found a good article for you from the Mayo Clinic which discusses exactly how stress hormones wreak havoc on our body.

Mr Jeff Gould On The Chinese Medicine Approach

The second part of the webinar was handed over to Jeff Gould, a Chinese medicine practitioner at the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine Center.  Mr Gould discussed many aspects of Chinese medicine, I will highlight the most interesting points he made:

    • Chinese medicine is what he termed individualized medicine. He might see 10 patients with breast cancer, but each patient may get a different treatment protocol based on the symptoms they present with on that day.
    • Chinese medicine is very holistic – practitioners don’t just treat physical symptoms (such as cancer), but also the emotional and spiritual aspects of a person.  He said one of his patients, in an effort to describe what they felt like after an acupuncture treatment, called it “a lightness of being”.  I thought that was a very good description.
    • Mr Gould called Chinese medicine a highly effective adjunct to Western medicine, it has been utilized quite effectively for over 3,000 years.
    • Mr Gould mentioned that the Chinese also use diet as a therapy – that Chinese medicine looks at the energetics of food vs the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.  They use food to promote health AND also to treat illness.  I was quite interested to find out that certain restaurants in China will have doctors who will greet you at the door, take a look at your vital signs (which are quite different to Western medicine – they are more likely to look at your tongue and take your pulses than to check your blood pressure, etc.) and then recommend certain things on the menu to assist with your current signs/symptoms.
    • When using Chinese herbs, your herbalist will tailor make a formula for you based on your unique constellation of symptoms and these are modified each week as symptoms change.
    • Mr Gould specifically mentioned chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, saying that the best time to treat that is BEFORE symptoms begin – he said it’s much easier to keep it from happening than to treat it after it has already happened.
    • We were reminded that herbs are drugs and as such, can have side effects and interactions with other drugs.  He also warned to use a trained herbalist when using herbs for any illness.
    • Mr Gould also did not recommend using Chinese medicine alone to treat cancer, but as an adjunct.

All in all, I thought it a very good webinar, well presented, and with good, concise information.  If you have any specific questions, please contact me.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Chinese Alternative Medicine: Link Between Breast Cancer and Lymphoma

Chinese Alternative Medicine Link Between Breast Cancer and Lymphoma
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and pichart99thai

Today I’m welcoming back my good friend, MaryAnne Bachia, Licensed Acupuncturist & Chinese Herbalist, as my guest writer.  MaryAnne wanted to share some information on the link between breast cancer and lymphoma, as viewed from a Chinese Alternative Medicine approach.

The Breast Cancer and Lymphoma Link

Have you had a breast cancer diagnosis only to find you are also diagnosed with lymphoma?

In this situation, your health issue has progressed from being a local one, the breast, to the systemic level of the lymphatic system.

There is a way of looking at this — it isn’t so much about the disease but it is about toxicity and the toxins are spreading fast. In Chinese medicine, when a health issue spreads quickly, it is a sign of toxins and is termed fire toxins. They move fast, like fire.

What your Chinese medicine practitioner will need to do is rid the body of the fire toxins and them rebuild the body so it no longer creates these toxins.

Fire toxins develop from a prolonged period of imbalance, when the body doesn’t have the energy to move toxins out and so it creates false energy or toxicity to move pathogens out of the body. This adds to the toxic accumulation and, eventually, creates more disease.

Basically, the body is working much harder than it ever should – the toxic accumulation is now in the blood.  The blood needs to be cleansed of these toxins and the body needs to be strengthened enough to move toxins out.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine help with this. They can also help with the side effects and weakness that arises with chemotherapy.

In this day and age, most of us are caught up in the business of life, technology and many things unnatural. We have created a lifestyle that is so far from a  natural, healthy rhythm that we have also created spas, yoga classes and meditation classes in order to learn, again, how to relax in a healthy and balanced way.

We should use these tools to help us prevent illness and enhance our health.

For more information, you can go to my website Acupuncture Energy Works and contact me for a free 15 minute consultation.

Thanks, MaryAnne, for providing us with some insight on the link between breast cancer and lymphoma.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

The Benefits of Chinese Alternative Medicine for Post Chemotherapy Hot Flashes

The Benefits of Chinese Alternative Medicine for Post Chemotherapy Hot Flashes
Photo of Chinese Herbs courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and Stuart Miles

Today’s guest post is written by MaryAnne Bachia, a dear friend of mine.  MaryAnne is a Licensed Acupuncturist and specializes in women’s health.

I asked MaryAnne to write about how acupuncture and Chinese herbs can assist with the hot flashes that plague us during and after chemotherapy treatments.  I found that regular acupuncture treatments combined with Chinese herbs really assisted me after chemotherapy.

MaryAnne writes:

“Sweating after chemotherapy is a very natural process. What really happens with chemo, as you probably know, is that the chemo burns out everything in the body, good and bad, if you want to look at it that way. It burns out the immune system as well as any signs of disease.

According to Chinese medical principles, this isn’t such a great idea. It’s like burning the oil in a car and continuing to run the engine.

What’s happening with hot flashes is that the body is trying to create the oil again – it’s attempting to rebuild estrogen levels.  It’s one of the ways the body is brilliant for trying to create homeostasis and heal itself.

The body has a perfect way of managing  stress. Cancer may be created in a similar way. The body has created much stress, systemically, and so it creates stagnation or a cyst or tumor compact, in one area, such as the breast. This is why it can be easy to have surgery and eliminate a tumor but we have to learn how to handle our stress in a way that is more balanced so we don’t re-create accumulations or stagnations (as tumors are called in Chinese medicine).

What To Do For Hot Flashes?

Chinese medicine works wonders with both acupuncture and herbs or either one on its own.  If you find the right acupuncturist, one with experience with dealing with cancer, you can also gain tips for nutrition and lifestyle choices that can benefit your re-building and help you regain your strength.

For more information, see my article How Does Acupuncture Work?

For more information have a look at my website at: http://www.acupunctureenergyworks.com or contact me for a free 15 minute consultation.”

Thanks so much to MaryAnne Bachia!

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Johns Hopkins Holding Integrative Health Webinar for Cancer Patients Dec 17th

Johns Hopkins Holding Integrative Health Webinar for Cancer Patients Dec 17th
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and Sura Nualpradid

I’m loving the new way of attending seminars – live, online, via webinars you can register for and sit through in your pajamas if you want to!

I’ve just received an email from Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine notifying of a special webinar they are holding on December 17th and I wanted to make sure you knew about it.  It should be a great one, here are the details:

Title: How Acupuncture, The Mind/Body Connection, Holistic Eating, Chinese Medicine, and Other Modalities Can Help Cancer Survivors During and After Treatment

Cost:  Free

Register online:  CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Time:  7:00pm (1 hour) Eastern Standard Time

Speakers:

Linda Lee, MD – Director of the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine & Digestive Center

Jeff Gould, LAc, DiplAc, DiplCh – Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist

I will be attending this webinar and taking notes, so if you miss it, you can rest assured that I will tell you all about it.  It should be great information.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Acupuncture: How It Helps With Cancer Treatments

 

acupuncture
Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

Acupuncture: How It Helps With Cancer Treatments

While acupuncture has been around for millennia, the form of acupuncture practiced today is mainly based on a standardized system which evolved in China around 50 years ago.

How Acupuncture Works – the Simple Explanation

Acupuncture treatment involves the stimulation of defined points on the body using tiny, ultra-thin needles (or sometimes electricity).  In Traditional Chinese Medicine (“TCM”), the surface of the human body and  its internal organs are thought to be connected by meridians through which “qi” (pronounced “chee”), or energy, flows.

In TCM, when the flow of qi is blocked, it is thought that pain and disease soon follow.  Acupuncture is a complex subject but primarily acupuncture works by inserting the special ultra-thin needles into the specific points on the surface of the body (“acupoints”) along the meridians where qi is blocked, thus restoring the flow of qi.

Acupuncture Studies Show Its Effectiveness for Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Acupuncture has been one of the most studied forms of complementary medicine.  Especially exciting is some of the data coming in about how it can help with cancer treatments.  For example, acupuncture has been shown to be effective in controlling chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.  In fact, in one study acupuncture was more effective than anti-emetic drugs in controlling nausea.

In another study, it was demonstrated that acupuncture was as effective as prescription drugs in controlling the hot flashes caused by anti-estrogen drugs and it also helped increase libido in these women.

Some breast cancer survivors are treated with drugs known as aromatase inhibitors to help prevent recurrence, but a common side effect of these drugs is joint pain and stiffness. One study found that acupuncture is quite effective in reducing these side effects, thereby allowing the drug regimen to be continued.

There are also reports showing acupuncture reduced the nerve pain associated with neuropathy, it reduced swelling and discomfort caused by lymphedema, and it effectively assisted patients who complained of dry mouth and muscle weakness.

Does It Hurt?

I often get asked if acupuncture hurts.  I have to say (for the most part) NO, especially not when the needles are inserted.  You can feel it, of course, but it’s not uncomfortable.  Once in awhile, one of the acupoints might be sore, especially if qi is particularly blocked, and it might ache for a few moments when the needle is first inserted, but that goes away.

I went to a TCM doctor during the entire 6 months of my chemotherapy treatment – she gave me herbs that helped my immune system stay strong, and I often got acupuncture to help with energy levels.  Having a treatment is ultra-relaxing, you’re generally laying in a comfortable position for about 45 minutes and falling asleep is quite common.  It’s a nice experience.  I highly recommend acupuncture and TCM!

Acupuncture treatments are generally affordable and are covered by some health insurance policies.

A good resource:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=acupuncture%20and%20breast%20cancer

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.