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Plantar Fasciitis Sucks!

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a common complaint characterized by pain in the heel and the bottom surface of the foot. 
The pain is typically worse in the morning and after periods of inactivity. 

Risk factors for plantar fasciitis include:

  • Foot Over-Pronation

  • Flat feet

  • High arches

  • Obesity

  • Achilles Tendon Tension

  • Poor Footwear

Acupuncture is a successful component of care for plantar fasciitis:

  • Corrects muscle imbalances leading to over-pronation

  • Increases blood flow and improves recovery time

  • Relieves tension in shortened and tight muscles

Inner Gate Acupuncture uses skillful diagnosis and evaluation to improve your recovery:

  • Acupuncture therapy based on thorough examination of the muscles of the foot and calf

  • Complete home care exercises to build strength and relax tissues between treatments

  • Massage, moxibustion and stretching may all be incorporated into your treatment

 

Organic Foods VS. Conventional Foods

organic vs. non organic meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables

For many years consumers have demanded and paid a premium for organic foods. Many believed that the food was somehow healthier than food produced with fertilizers, pesticides and chemicals.  Others paid for the premium because it meant fewer pesticides and herbicides on their food and in the environment.

The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union has performed a major review analyzing differences in organic vs. non organic meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables.

The commission found that organic meats and cheeses had 50% higher omega-3 fatty acid content that conventional meats and cheeses!

Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and inflammation in the body.  These oils are found in predominance in cold water fish like anchovies and sardines. The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are firmly established.

Although there is no direct research on it yet, it stands to reason that a diet with organic meats and cheeses vs. conventional meats and cheeses would be healthier based solely on the omega-3 content of the foods. 

A review of fruits and vegetables found that organic fruits and vegetables had higher levels of antioxidants than their conventionally produced counterparts. Antioxidants are molecules which inhibit damaging free radicals in our bodies. Also noted was less pesticide residue on the organic produce.

 

Caramel Color

4-methylimidazole (carmel coloring) is a carcinogen

It turns out that that sugar may not be the only dangerous substance in sodas.

The golden-brown color of many soft drinks is made from a chemical called 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MeI. On U.S. product labels it appears simply as “caramel coloring.”

According to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the state of California 4-methylimidazole is a carcinogen.

Currently in the state of California manufacturers have to to insure that consumers are not exposed to more than 29 micrograms of 4-methylimidazole per day.  Foods exceeding that limit have to carry a warning label that reads: “WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer.”

Consumer reports is now testing products, “We are concerned about both the levels of 4-MeI we found in many of the soft drinks tested and the variations observed among brands, especially given the widespread consumption of these types of beverages,” said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, a Consumer Reports toxicologist.

“There is no reason why consumers need to be exposed to this avoidable and unnecessary risk that can stem from coloring food and beverages brown.”

The Food and Drug Administration does not set federal limits on 4-MeI in food, and the data gathered by Consumer Reports show that in some cases consumers outside California may be drinking a slightly different product. For example,  a Pepsi One purchased by the Consumer Reports group in New York contains four times as much 4-MeI as the same product bought at the same time in California.

Consumers interested in more information on 4-Mel click here for the the FDA’s FAQ page.

Ear Acupuncture and Weight Loss

A Koren study published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine shows that ear acupuncture can help people lose weight. 

EAR ACUPUNCTURE AND WEIGHT LOSS

In the study, researchers compared the efficacy of different acupuncture treatments in helping obese patients lose weight.  The researchers compared the standard Korean five point treatment with a single acupuncture point.  A control group was given a “sham” treatment.

The study followed 91 obese people – 16 men and 75 women – all of the participants had a body mass index equal to or greater than 23. None of the participants had received any other weight control treatments in the last 6 months.

The participants were randomly divided into three groups, one group to receive the five point acupuncture treatment, another the one point acupuncture treatment and the third group, the control “sham” treatment.

Method of Study:

The first group had imbedded needles positioned at the ear acupuncture sites; Shen-men, stomach, spleen, hunger, and endocrine. The needles were left for one week.

The following week, new needles would be inserted into the same acupuncture points on the other ear, with the process being repeated over the course of the 8 week trial.

The second group of participants followed the same treatment process but only had one needle inserted at the hunger point.

The sham group believed they were receiving the five point treatment.  The needles were inserted and then were removed immediately after insertion.  Tape was placed over the ear.

All three groups were put onto a restricted diet and asked to not increase their exercise or activity levels.

Before after and during the trial BMIs, waist circumference, body fat mass, percentage body fat and blood pressure were measured.

Results:

For the participants that completed the trial the results were significant.  The BMI of the five point treatment group showed a 6.1% reduction, the one point group a 5.7% reduction while the sham group showed no reduction at all.

The research suggests that ear acupuncture protocols for weight loss may provide a great benefit to patients seeking to lose abdominal fat.

Manage Seasonal Allergies with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine


In light of the complications and unknown risks associated with pharmaceutical medication, illuminated in the above article, it is fortunate that acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer options for natural relief from allergies.  

At Inner Gate Acupuncture we use acupuncture and Chinese medicine to improve immune function and reduce the inflammatory responses associated with allergies.  

Acupuncture works by treating and strengthening the lung organ system. When the lung is strong the immune system's hypersensitivity is quieted. Acupuncture also works by controls inflammation and reduces the aggravation of the mucus membranes.  


Acupuncture can treat:

  • Runny nose

  • Itchy eyes

  • Sneezing

  • Asthma

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Nausea/ vomiting

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty sleeping

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer a natural and side-effect free way to control, prevent and eliminate allergies.  When employed by our skilled acupuncturists these modalities eliminate the need for over the counter medications and strengthen the entire body, fostering a powerful and effective immune system.  

Anticholinergic Drugs like Benadryl may be Linked to an Increased Risk of Dementia

What is the Problem?

There is growing evidence that anticholinergic medications may be linked to the development of dementia.  In the Journal of American Medical Association a recent study was published that examined possible links between these medications and dementia.  

anticholinergic medications and dementia

Antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants and bladder control medications are the main classes of anticholinergic medications.  The recent study, which took place at the University of Washington, examined over the counter and prescription medications.  

What are Anticholinergic Medications?

Anticholinergic medications block the function of acetylcholine in the body.  Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter.  It functions to transmit messages throughout the nervous system.  In the body, it communicates with muscles and stimulates contractions.  In the brain, acetylcholine is associating with learning and memory.  

There is a natural decrease in the production of acetylcholine associated with aging.  Adding medications that also limit acetylcholine can have a strong negative impact on brain function and memory.  In fact, the main side effects associated with these medications include short term memory loss, difficulty with concentration and drowsiness.  

What was the Study's Conclusion?

The study which examined 3434 people over the course of 10 years concluded that there was a definite link between long term anticholinergic medication use and the development of dementia.   Taking an anticholinergic for the equivalent of three years or more was associated with a 54% higher dementia risk than taking the same dose for three months or less.

What can you do?

Geriatrician Malaz Boustani of the Indiana University School of Medicine developed the anticholinergic cognitive burden scale, which compares anticholinergic drugs according to the intensity of their effects on the mind. Click here for a link to the scale.  It is best to avoid drugs with a higher score.  

Also consider using natural therapies as a way to avoid use of these drugs.  Chinese medicine and acupuncture can be used as a drug free option for many of the conditions associated with anticholinergic medications.  

Mindfulness Therapy as Effective as Medications for Depression

In a recent study, researchers hypothesized that cognitive mindfulness training and practice would be better than antidepressant medications for people suffering from recurrent depression.

Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT)

Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) was developed from basic mindfulness techniques.  Mindfulness techniques are designed to help people stay focused on the present moment and not dwell in the past or the future.  These skills were combined with traditional cognitive behavior therapy to form MBCT. 

The standard treatment for depression involves long term antidepressant medications.  These can be given for courses of treatment lasting years.  Many people are looking for alternatives to these medications or want to find ways to experience life without them.  Furthermore, many of these antidepressant medications have side effects that people would prefer to avoid.

The study used 424 participants.  The participants either did the MBCT or used the standard antidepressant medications.  The participants that did the MBCT had 8 group sessions of 2 hours, home practice and options for 4 follow ups over the course of the year.  The antidepressant group took appropriate medications.  The researchers then looked at outcomes based on how the participants felt after one year.  

The researchers did not find what they expected.  Rather than being better than the medications, MBCT turned out to be just the same as the medications but had far fewer side effects.  The relapse rate for the 2 groups was 47% for the MBCT and 44% for the antidepressant medications.  These are not statistically different.  The researchers also found that the MBCT could be done effectively in the group treatment setting saving heavily on the cost of the therapy.  

It is possible that with continued therapy and a strong home practices the benefits of MBCT could far outweigh the benefits of antidepressant medications.  However, in the mean time, it is good to know that there are effective drug-free therapies available for people suffering from recurrent depression.  

 

Time For Nettles!

Kopiva.JPG

Right now young shoots of stinging neetle plants are popping up all over Oregon. They can sting you so be careful handling these pokey plants.  The leaves and stems, which have small spines on them will cause mild skin irritation and itching when they touch the skin.  However, it is well worth the effort to harvest these delectable plants.  

The stinging neetle is rich in vitamins and minerals.  It also contains active compounds that reduce inflammatory cytokines in our bodies.  It is used in the treatment of arthritis, allergies and other inflammatory diseases.  

Due to their high mineral content stinging neeltes promote hair and finger nail health. Nettles are often found in shampoos and other care products.  They are also often used in formulas to nourish the blood and improve circulation.   

Stinging neetles are easy to harvest.  Check local regulations regarding harvesting plants. Be sure to bring gloves, a good bag and cutting shears!

Once the plants are collected they can be cooked into foods, made into alcohol tinctures or boiled into tea.  Once thoroughly cooked the stinging fibers of the neetle become neutralized.  

Images From Wikipedia

Stinging Nettle Recipes

Image Credit:   Kopiva.JPG

Image Credit: Kopiva.JPG

Chickpea & Nettle Soup

This is a hearty and satisfying soup.  It is filling and warming, richly peppered with warm aromatic spices.  This soup is a lovely addition to a cool spring evening.  

Ingredients:
Two large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
A baking potato, peeled and diced
Two white onions, peeled and sliced
Garlic to your liking
Spices such as cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, or star anise
Lots of fresh nettle tops
A can of chickpeas
Vegetable stock, six cups

Making soup isn't particularly difficult. Experiment with these ingredients and have fun making this soup.  

Lightly fry the spices in the oil until they become aromatic. Don't overheat them, this will change their flavor.  Remove the spices and add the onion and fry in the oil until soft. Then throw in the potatoes.  Cook for a just a couple minutes before covering with stock. Heat to a simmer until the potatoes are cooked then blend the soup.

Wash the nettles removing any thick stems and any dirt. Wear gloves for this part of the process. Cook them in rapidly boiling salt water then drain them in a colander. Chop up the nettles and add them to the soup.  Pour in the can of drained chickpeas. Heat throughly and serve. 

Nettle Aloo

In Indian cuisine potato and spinach is a mainstay.  It is know as aloo saag, literally "potato and spinach". This recipe simply replaces the spinach with stinging nettles giving the dish a fresh and delicious flavor.  

Ingredients:
One large white onion, finely chopped
Three cloves of garlic, finely chopped
One teaspoon of mustard seeds
Two teaspoons black onion seeds
Two teaspoons fenugreek seeds
Salt and pepper
2-3 potatoes, depending on size, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
Nettles, lots.

Blanch the nettles in boiling water then drain in a colander. Finely chop them and set them to one side.

Boil the potatoes in salted water for about 10 minutes. Stop before they are fully cooked.

Fry the spices in oil, lower the heat then add the onion and cook until soft. Add in the garlic and then the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are soft throughout then add the chopped nettles. Cook the greens down with a little water if necessary, season and serve with rice or another curry.

Thanks to Alex Rushmer for these lovely recipes!

Happy New Year

year of the sheep

Thursday the 19th of February marks the beginning of the year of the sheep in Chinese cosmology.  The Chinese zodiac is a cycle of 12 animal signs.  Every year is thought to take on some of the qualities of the animal that dominate that year. The Chinese character for sheep encompasses both the sheep and the goat, this year is often referred to as the year of the goat as well.  

The sheep is thought to be the most yin of all the zodiac signs.  Yin correlate to the more feminine, passive, introspective sides of our natures.  Yang is the more active and masculine side of us.  The yin nature of the sheep provides us the opportunity to be more introspective.  

If you have ever wanted to explore making art or design a more regular part of you life this next year is a great time to do so.  Supposedly the sheep is a great artist, good with color and composition.   

Sheep tend to avoid conflict and remove themselves from uncomfortable situations.  Hopefully the sheep nature will move us out of many of the conflicts which have lingered in our lives and our world over the past decade.  Take advantage of the sheep nature by resolving the old conflicts in your own live that have endured for too long.  

Sheep are wanderers.  They travel leisurely over the meadows and valleys in search of fresh grass and lovely views.  Take time over the next year to plan trips that will bring you peace and provide you with great vistas. 

Allergies

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are effective ways to control and eliminate seasonal allergies. Using the techniques of Chinese medicine to improve immune function and reduce inflammation our acupuncturists can help you manage your allergies naturally.  

Acupuncture works by treating and strengthening the lung organ system. When the lung is functioning more optimally the immune system's hypersensitivity will be calmed. The acupuncture also works by controlling inflammation and reducing the aggravation of the mucus membranes.  

Acupuncture can treat:

  • Runny nose

  • Itchy eyes

  • Sneezing

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Nausea/ vomiting

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty sleeping

The standard treatments for allergies include antihistamines, decongestants and allergy shots. Antihistamines block the allergy response, while decongestants block mucus secretion. Allergy shots are used for more severe cases. These shots slowly expose the body to the allergens, to decrease the body's immune response. These treatments work for better for some people than others.  

Side effects of standard allergy medications:

  • Dry mouth

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea/ vomiting

  • Irritability

  • Confusion

  • Rapid heart rate

  • High blood pressure

  • Drowsiness

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are a natural and side effect free way to control, prevent and eliminate allergies.  When used by our skilled acupuncturists these medicines eliminate the need for over the counter medications and strengthen the entire body, fostering a powerful and effective immune system.