Diet and supplements for pyoderma faciale

If you’re suffering from pyoderma faciale, the most severe form of rosacea, I’ve noticed from personal experience that diet is the No. 1 thing you can change right now to improve symptoms. Over the years I’ve narrowed down the list of trigger foods for me. I’m betting that there is some variation between individuals, but this is a great baseline to help get your skin under control quickly.

The main issue with an autoimmune disorder like PD, like with so many other disorders, is internal inflammation. It took years to build to this critical level, so even though it may seem like it popped up overnight, it was years in the making. The good news is, if you are diligent with diet and supplementation, you can start seeing an improvement in days.

Here’s my diet plan:

• Drink lots of water. Aim for 48 ounces of water or non-carbonated beverages per day, and invest in a good water filter pitcher to eliminate heavy metals AND flouride. I use AquaGear.

• Eliminate gluten first. Do not cheat on this one. I’ve heard that gluten in Europe does not cause inflammation like here in the states, but if you’re living in the U.S., then eliminating gluten is crucial due to the pesticide contamination.

• Eliminate all seafood products and supplements. This one snuck up on me, but I was able to figure it out this summer after eating shrimp during a trip. I had also been taking taking fish oil supplements, and it took me several weeks to figure out it was making things worse, not better. The quality of our seafood is compromised because of all the pollution and heavy metals in the water, so if you’re battling inflammation, skip all seafood.

• Eliminate coffee, chocolate, dairy, and alcohol if needed. Cheap chocolate especially will keep my face flared up for months, but really I need to avoid all forms of chocolate. I have a hard time with coffee, but if I brew my own and limit sweeteners to two packets of raw sugar, I can manage without having a bad flare.

• Eliminate tea – white, green, black, pu-erh and oolong – anything made with actual tea leaves. Tea leaves are high in flouride, as are grapes and raisins.

• Add chia seeds to your diet, preferably soaked. Chia seeds have all 9 amino acids (making it a complete protein) and omega-3s plus calcium and other trace minerals. Win-win-win.

My topical and supplement plan:

• I use emu oil several times a day on my face. If my face starts burning, I apply it and let my skin tell me how many times a day. Emu oil penetrates to the dermal layer, speeding cell turnover and creating healthier skin cells. I use Emu Gold because it comes in a glass bottle with a pump, so there is less chance of contamination.

• I also use Straight Hemp topically on lesions and internally, 3 drops under my tongue before bed, to fight inflammation while I sleep.

• I clean my face three times a week with a gentle, emu-based cleanser and let it rest in between to maintain the acid mantle. My skin has always improved the less I wash it. Unfortunately, the manufacturer of my emu cleanser changed the formulation, so I’m looking for a new one and scraping out the bottom of my current bottle.

• I live in Florida, so sunscreen is important. I use Neutrogena sensitive skin sunscreen 60+ SPF. Added bonus: the whiteness of the sunscreen tones down the redness if I’m having a flare.

• Skin health starts in the gut, so I choose probiotics that are fermented and mostly low-histamine strains. My favorite is Dr. Ohira’s. I will take anywhere from 1 to 5 capsules a day. If I want them to populate my upper GI, I chew them and swallow, and if I want them to populate my lower GI I just swallow them like normal, and swallow a last dose before bed.

Although these recommendations are for pyoderma faciale, this is a good starting point for developing plans of care for other skin conditions instead of trying to figure it out from scratch. If you’ve noticed, many of the food guidelines are due to pesticide and heavy metal contamination, so always buy organic if possible and support groups who address environmental and food safety issues. The diet restrictions may seem too harsh at first, but once you notice what helps your skin and what harms it, it’s pretty easy to make choices that will have you looking and feeling better, too.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician at Vitalichi Acupuncture. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at http://www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.

 

CBD oil and seborrheic keratosis

You know how minor health issues have a way of sneaking up on you? One of mine was a grayish looking wart that had popped up on my face and stayed for a couple of years. Because I had been briefly seeing a dermatologist for pyoderma faciale, and she hadn’t been able to help me with a medication I could tolerate, I was on my last visit. So as an afterthought before I left I asked her about the weird spot on my cheek that was way different than the rest of the mess on my face.

She told me it was a noncancerous seborrheic keratosis, gave me a pamphlet about it, and told me I could have it removed. Quite frankly, I wasn’t ready to spend the money, and hoped that somewhere along the way, once I got the PD under control I’d worry about it then.

Fast forward two years. I started carrying Straight Hemp in my clinic, so I had plenty to try on myself. It helped my mood, the inflammation on my face, my ankle joints, and three drops a night under my tongue helped me sleep, too. Win-win-win-win!

One night I put the CBD oil on the PD lesions, and figured, “Hey, might as well get the warty thing too.” I woke up the next morning, and I swore it was starting to flake at the edges and it was a bit itchy. Three or so days later, most of it had peeled off, layer by layer. For another week, I had the smallest of skin tags where it had been, and now that’s gone too. In fact, I’m not sure where the seborrheic keratosis actually was on my face, because now I can’t see a trace of it.

It’s commonly accepted that it’s an ok choice not to treat seborrheic keratosis because it’s not usually an acute problem, but the only way to fix it is to remove it. I have to say though, I was happy with the results from the Straight Hemp CBD oil, and since this is considered a “normal” sign of aging, I plan to try it again if needed. In the meantime, this is a noninvasive treatment I will be recommending to patients too.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician at Vitalichi Acupuncture. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at http://www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.

 

 

Essential oils to help dementia and Alzheimer’s patients

Let’s make it clear right now – no essential oil will cure Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. However, there is scientific literature confirming that specific essential oils can help manage mood and cognitive function in patients suffering from these diseases. Essential oils can not and should not replace pharmaceutical management of dementia, but using essential oils in day-to-day care management can be incorporated into the plan of care.

Lemon balm and lavender have been shown to help reduce physical non-aggressive behavior. Additionally, lemon balm has been shown to reduce social withdrawal and increase constructive activity engagement. Part of the therapeutic benefit from that study may also be that the essential oils were applied in a carrier lotion to the skin twice a day, which maintained contact with the oil more effectively. It’s also important not to discount the power of touch; healthy therapeutic touch is beneficial physically and emotionally for all age groups, regardless of health status.

Diffusing lavender for 20 minutes twice a day helped reduce agitation, especially in dementia patients aged 70 to 85. For dementia patients over age 85, the difference was noticeably less. My theory on that is that the sense of smell had reduced too much to be therapeutic for that age group, but increasing the dosage of oil in the diffuser might counteract that. Lavender oil placed on bedding also helped patients sleep better and longer.

In one study, rosemary and lemon were used in combination in the morning, along with lavender and orange in combination in the evening. That study showed an improvement in cognitive function of personal orientation. Rosemary helps you “remember who you are” and citrus oils in general uplift mood. Lavender is more sedating, so it’s a better choice to help calm dementia patients for the evening and aid sleep.

In animal studies, thuja (Tetraclinis articulata) oil inhaled by male mice helped them navigate mazes better. In worms, rose essential oil inhibited dementia-like symptoms.

What’s the best way to use essential oils on the elderly?

Because many elderly lack healthy touch and emotional connection, I think incorporating essential oils in a nut-free oil or lotion is the most beneficial. The standard dilution for elderly or children is one percent essential oil to the carrier oil, or six drops per ounce. It’s also important to use an essential oil and not “fragrance” or “perfume” which usually contain a few top notes but not the entire chemical signature of a true essential oil. Because everyone’s skin integrity and sensitivity is different, it’s important to test on a small area of skin and also consult the patient’s health care team before implementing.

Diffusing essential oils in water vapor is the easiest method of application, and can affect the most people in the shortest period of time, so this is a great idea for common areas or individual rooms. Any essential oil has the possibility of triggering allergies or asthma attacks, so knowing the health history of everyone who would be exposed to the oil is important.

If implemented with care, essential oils can be part of a dementia or Alzheimer’s patient’s plan of care to help them experience a better quality of life.

Disclosure: I also sell essential oils. You can learn more on my Doterra web page.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician at Vitalichi Acupuncture. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at http://www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.

 

SOURCES FROM PUBMED.COM

Aromatherapy as a safe and effective treatment for the management of agitation in severe dementia: the results of a double-blind, placebo controlled trial with Melissa. J Clin Psychiatry. 2002 Jul.

A randomized controlled trial of Lavender (Lavender Angustifolia) and Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) essential oils for the treatment of agitated behavior in older people with and without dementia. Complement Ther Med. 2019 Feb.

Tetraclinic articulate essential oil mitigates cognitive deficits and brain oxidative stress in an Alzheimer’s disease amyloidosis model. Phytomedicine. 2019 March 15.

Evaluating the effects of diffused lavender in an adult day care center for patients with dementia in an effort to decrease behavioral issues: a pilot study. J Drug Assess. 2017 Jan 23.

Effects of Inhalation Aromatherapy on Symptoms of Sleep Disturbance in the Elderly with Dementia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017.

Rose Essential Oil Delayed Alzheimer’s Disease-Like Symptoms by SKN-1 Pathway in C. elegans. J Agric Food Chem. 2017 Oct.

Effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Psychogeriatrics, 2009 Dec.

The psycopharmacology of European herbs with cognition-enhancing properties. Curr Pharm Des. 2006.

Do I need acupuncture?

Laughter is the best medicine. But your health concerns are no laughing matter. Call me and find out if acupuncture can help you today!doyouneedacu?

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician at Vitalichi Acupuncture. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at http://www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.

Emu oil helps my pyoderma faciale

Many people just assume that professionals in the health care field have cured all their own health problems. That’s not always the case, but many times, practitioners are brought to the field BECAUSE of their health issues.

That’s how it was for me. One of the issues I’ve struggled with over the past nine years is severe breakouts on my face. It wasn’t until two years ago that I got a more detailed diagnosis of my form of rosacea: Pyoderma faciale (also called Rosacea fulminans.)

When I got that detailed diagnosis, I tried going the traditional route and taking meds. The doxycycline made my face better, but it made me feel so weak that I felt like my heart didn’t have enough energy to beat. It also increased the intracranial pressure in my head, and I’ve noticed that my weather-related migraines are on the worse side since then. My dermatologist had also given me a topical steroid to try after that, and I tried it several times. Within ten minutes of application, no matter what time of day I applied it, I would get an anxiety attack out of nowhere. So that was a no-go too.

Luckily, one of my acupuncture teachers, who I go to for my own acupuncture treatments, referred me to a colleague that she had worked with, Nadine Toriello, who specializes in problem skin like mine. My teacher suggested I try topical emu oil right away while I waited to get in to see Nadine. She was the first esthetician who understood my diagnosis and what my skin needed to heal.

I noticed a difference right away! Emu oil penetrates to the dermis, where the skin is formed, and starts the healing deep down. It takes the incessant burning away, which is a godsend. My rule of thumb is that I apply emu oil when I feel my skin burning, so that could be anywhere from one to several times a day. I use Emu Gold, because it comes in a pump, so I don’t spill my precious oil (I did that once with another brand that had a dropper!) and keeps it from being exposed to air and oxidizing.

A few months ago, my husband brought me samples of Emu Aid, a homeopathic cream with different potencies of Argentum Metallicum. It also includes emu, lysine, tea tree oil and other ingredients. I have to say I was hesitant to try it, because so many things end up making my face worse, not better. But it’s been helping a great deal. So now I use both Emu Gold and Emuaid.

I’ve gotten my skin to the point where it is totally clear for several months at a time, but if I forget to apply emu for too long, or eat a lot of my trigger foods at once, it comes back and stays back for a long time. I also use an emu-based cleanser.

One of the most important times to apply whatever emu oil you’re using is at night. Part of the issue with rosacea is Demodex mites, which everyone has, but seem to be a little more out of control on people with rosacea. They migrate to the top of the skin at night to feed and mate (totally gross!) but keeping a layer of emu oil on seems to help keep that under control. So I rarely skip a nighttime application of emu now.

It’s important to have a two-prong approach to treating your skin issues, whether it’s acne, rosacea, eczema or psoriasis. Topicals alone won’t fix your skin if you don’t take care of the inflammation internally. Check out my blog post for internal fixes here.

If I had to pick only one topical to manage my pyoderma faciale, it would be emu. We’ll talk about my No. 2 remedy in my next post.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician at Vitalichi Acupuncture. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at http://www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.

Three ways to help you stop smoking with acupuncture

Stop smoking today! Acupuncture can help kick your butts to the curb and mitigate the oxidative damage that smoking causes. There are three ways acupuncture can help: full-body acupuncture, NADA and ear seeds.

A full-body acupuncture session addresses constitutional complaints while also helping to reduce cravings. It takes longer because your acupuncture physician will talk to you before each session, check your tongue and/or pulse, and come up with a Chinese medicine differential diagnosis before needling you. Needles are typically placed in the head, torso, arms and legs while you lay down on a treatment table. A full session typically takes around an hour.

NADA is a specific set of protocols for needling points in the ear based on whatever addictions need to be addressed — eating, smoking, alcohol, etc. Needles are placed in the ears only, based on the protocol needed, and there is no diagnosis involved, so it takes less time, too. You can read or sit in a chair during this type of treatment, to help distract you, but I’ve developed more of a spa treatment style to help people relax.

Ear seeds are sterilized plant seeds on a tiny bandage that sticks to the ear, or they could be gold pellets with fancy crystals but look nicer on the ear. A treatment with ear seeds is the same as a NADA acupuncture treatment, except you keep the seeds on your ears for about five days, and you press them and massage your ear during the day when you have cravings. If you don’t press, them, they won’t work though, so the patient has to do the work to help the cravings.

You weren’t born a smoker, and with acupuncture, you can kick those butts to the curbs — for good.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician at Vitalichi Acupuncture. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at http://www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.

Chinese Medicine can help recovery from shingles

By NICOLE NOLES, DOM LMT
New Hope Chiropractic

Shingles is the term used to describe a contagious recurrence of the herpes zoster virus that manifests with intense pain and a blistering rash along with flu-like symptoms or malaise. Although it’s more common in people over 50, shingles isn’t a disease for just seniors. Anyone who has had chickenpox has the potential to get shingles when the immune system is compromised.

Both allopathic and Chinese Medicine are important when it comes to treating shingles, but time and quick treatment is of the essence if you want to reduce the severity and length of symptoms.

In Chinese Medicine, shingles is considered a pattern of Toxic Damp Heat. The damp heat is a description of the rash, with the blisters manifesting the “toxic” part of the equation. When a patient present with a “hot” pattern such as shingles, the goal with acupuncture is to pick points to cool down the patient (reduce inflammation), help manage stress (intense pain causes a lot of emotional and physiological stress, and that’s normal) as well as “vent” the rash to help the body clear it out as soon as possible. The other important treatment strategy is to make sure the patient doesn’t add any “heat” by way of food, hot showers, or topicals that make things worse.

My preferred treatment schedule for patients includes a visit to the medical doctor first for confirmation and a prescription, if appropriate, then acupuncture and supplements as soon as possible to help manage the pain and speed healing. This is an excellent example of how allopathic and holistic medicine can work together to help patients feel better quicker. It’s definitely not appropriate to take a “wait and see” approach when it comes to shingles; it’s probably not going to get better by itself quickly if that’s what you’ve got.

My neighbor’s medical degree came from Google University

I guarantee that if you see a licensed medical professional, allopathic or holistic, you will not be the first shingles case to walk through their door. Your medical professional will give you advice and prescriptions that have worked for many people before you and are backed by science and experience. Many patients have questions and concerns about new prescriptions, and that’s normal. If you have pre-existing conditions, remind your doctor, and ask your questions before you leave, so that you feel confident about taking your meds or supplements as they are prescribed.

When you feel sick or have severe pain, it’s normal to look for relief from any source once you leave the doctor’s office, but many times, the information you get from Google, a “wellness” coach, or your neighbors can be conflicting or aggravate your condition. Trust your health professionals and try to resist the urge to lather yourself with a dozen different “natural” things that “worked for someone on this one online forum I found at 2 a.m.” Natural doesn’t always mean better, especially if you don’t have experience with that remedy. Save your experimentation for the kitchen.

On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with researching your condition. Many of my patients like to surf the web for info, and I recommend searching whatever issue you have with the additional terms of “clinical trials” or “scientific studies.” A PubMed study, “Comparison of therapeutic effects of different types of acupuncture interventions on herpes zoster in acute stage,” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23342782) found that with acupuncture there was significant pain relief starting about the seventh day verses medicine alone. Another study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22043678) found that acupuncture, added to other traditional Asian forms of treatment like cupping, increased effectiveness.

Tips for getting through shingles:

  • If you have severe pain that lasts more than a day and you don’t remember injuring yourself or “overdoing” it, make an appointment with your doctor. If you see any signs of rash, see a doctor that day. If your doctor gives you a script, fill it and start taking it as directed right away. Make sure they also know about any other medications or over the counter remedies your take.
  • Do stay well hydrated.
  • Avoid spicy and fried foods. In Chinese Medicine, adding “hot” foods to a “hot” condition makes things worse and prolongs healing.
  • Eat a few extra servings of cooling foods like watermelon, iceberg lettuce and cucumber. Ice cream does not count! Try fruit-based popsicles instead.
  • Take tepid or cool showers.
  • Wash your sheets, towels, etc. with hot water and bleach, especially if your blisters oozed or burst.
  • Ask your health professional what topical products and supplements they recommend for you. Do not apply essential oils to an active rash.
  • Do follow your doctor’s advice. Do not reinvent your treatment plan, change your dosage, or skip your meds. You know your body best, but your health professional team knows what works best for most people.
  • Do not scratch your rash or pop the blisters.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Try to manage your stress and rest often.
  • If you have a chiropractor on your health care team, get an adjustment, if appropriate.
  • Do NOT get a massage.

Shingles is an unfortunate complication of a disease you probably forgot all about, but your health care team can help you find relief.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician and massage therapist in Florida. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture.

Addressing pain with the five pillars of Chinese Medicine

Pain is usually an unwelcome visitor. Whether pain is a short- or long-term guest in your life, by addressing your health issues with the five pillars of Chinese medicine, you can make lifestyle adjustments that encourage your body’s ability to heal and cope.

First of all, keep in mind that pain is not the problem; it’s merely a signal that something in your body needs attention. We would be in trouble if we had no way to sense or respond to pain. It’s a survival mechanism. But that’s not much comfort when you have a sprained ankle or chronic back pain. That’s why it’s never a good idea to ignore your body’s pain signals; if your symptoms are severe with quick onset or do not improve within a reasonable amount of time, then it’s important to seek medical advice and help.

Chinese medicine addresses all health issues, including pain, according to the five pillars of diet, exercise, bodywork, herbal medicine and acupuncture. Each pillar has a contribution to make in strengthening the body’s ability to heal or deal with pain.

Diet
With every bite of food you eat, you are making a choice to either fight disease, or fuel it. So when it comes to eating to reduce pain, think inflammation.

A basic anti-inflammatory diet reduces intake of dairy, red meat, sugar, coffee, alcohol and soda and increases water intake and healthy, unprocessed foods. You don’t have to switch from carnivore to vegan overnight, but making smarter food choices that reduce inflammation helps your body heal faster and better.
Remember that everything you consume will end up being the building blocks of new cells and tissue, so build wisely by eating wisely. Your health care team can help you design an eating plan that fits your specialized needs.

Exercise
Most people who are in pain limit their motion, and, most of the time, this is a smart idea. But if you are dealing with chronic pain, you may need to slowly increase your range of motion and activity level under the supervision of your health care team.

Tai chi or qi gong are gentle forms of exercise that can be adapted to any activity level and can be good places to start increasing your activity level.
Yoga is also easily adapted to different levels of activity.

The main goals of exercise are to improve a person’s strength, overall conditioning, range of motion and flexibility.

It’s not a contest. Go slow, go smart and keep going. Inactivity can compound pain issues over the long term.

Bodywork
In Chinese medicine, bodywork, or tui na, is a combination of massage and chiropractic techniques. 
Here in the U.S., we leave chiropractic work to licensed DCs, but still use a variety of massage techniques to help relieve pain. This can include tui na, gua sha (a type of scraping of the skin), cupping or even Western-style energy or massage techniques for those of us who hold dual licensure.


Healthy, therapeutic touch has great potential to relieve emotional and physical discomfort and is an important tool in pain management.

Herbal medicine
When it comes to pain relief, there are more options than just aspirin. Your acupuncture physician may prescribe a Chinese herbal formula to help relieve pain, reduce inflammation and promote healing after doing a thorough intake of your current medications and supplements.

When it comes to using Chinese herbs, it’s important not to self-diagnose and buy off the Internet. For one, it may not be an appropriate choice for your individual needs.

Acupuncture physicians prescribe based on the individual’s pattern of expressing illness, not the illness itself. Second, some medications are not appropriate to combine with Chinese herbs. The quick no-go list of meds includes Warfarin, lithium and seizure-controlling medications or generic counterparts.

Acupuncture
Because acupuncture works with the nervous system, it can be an effective way to mitigate pain and retrain your brain how to deal with it. Acupuncture is used as an anesthetic in China in emergency situations or surgeries, but is more commonly used for non-emergency acute or chronic pain management here in the States.

Sometimes relief comes quickly with acupuncture. More often than not, it takes a series of sessions to make progress with pain management.

Acupuncture is not designed like a pill to be a quick fix; it’s more like going to the gym the way it stimulates the body to heal more efficiently over the long term.

If pain has overstayed its welcome in your body, Chinese medicine may give you some new tools to help.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician and massage therapist in Florida. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.

Tai chi can tip the scales of balance back in your favor

Exercise is the second pillar in the five pillars of health in Chinese medicine. The fact that it ranks second out of five (diet, exercise, bodywork, herbal medicine and acupuncture) underscores the importance of continued movement for continued function. The old saying “if you don’t used it, you lose it” applies not only to mind, but body, too.

In Chinese medicine, the preferred forms of exercise are slow, sustained efforts that are gentle on the joints. Tai chi, a softer form of martial arts, is a broad term for a specific series of exercises that is often described as moving meditation. The slow, gentle movements make it an appropriate form of exercise for just about anyone, especially for seniors.

There have been many scientific studies about the efficacy of tai chi for various conditions; here are just a few highlights:

• A study published in 2012 in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded “Tai chi training appears to reduce balance impairments in patients with mild-to-moderate Parkinson’s disease, with additional benefits of improved functional capacity and reduced falls. (Funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.)” (1)

• A group of 256 previously inactive adults, ages 70 to 92, were assigned to either a stretching routine or tai chi. After six months of exercise, the tai chi group had 38 falls verses 73 in the stretching group, with only 7 percent leading to injury verses 18 percent in the stretching group.

According to the study published in 2005, “the risk for multiple falls in the tai chi group was 55 percent lower than that of the stretching control group. …A three-times-per-week, 6-month tai chi program is effective in decreasing the number of falls, the risk for falling and the fear of falling, and it improves functional balance and physical performance in physically inactive persons, aged 70 years or older.” (2)

• In a study published in 2014, patients with multiple sclerosis had measurable improvements in balance, coordination, life satisfaction and mood compared to the control group of treatment as usual after six months of tai chi. While fatigue worsened in the control group during that time, the tai chi group had a fairly stable fatigue level. Their fatigue did not improve, but it did not worsen like the control group. (3)

• A 2004 study of patients with stable congestive heart failure found improvements in quality of life, distance walked, decreased serum B-type natriuretic peptide levels and a possible improvement in peak oxygen uptake with the addition of a tai chi exercise program to standard care. (4)

• A 2009 study evaluated short form tai chi for the following criteria: “Dynamic standing balance evaluated by the center of gravity (COG) excursion during self-initiated body leaning in 4 directions, standing equilibrium evaluated in sensory challenged conditions and functional mobility assessed by Timed-up-and-go score.” The results showed that tai chi improved everything, including vestibular integration, but not the timed-up-and-go score. (5)

• A 2008 study of 15 asthmatic children found that tai chi can improve pulmonary function in the short term, and it deserved longer, follow-up studies. (6)

• Female senior cancer survivors who were taught tai chi verses a control group who received health education had significantly lower systolic blood pressure and cortisol (stress) levels. (7)

The jury is still out on some alleged benefits
Can tai chi affect blood sugar? There are conflicting studies about that. A 2009 study states that 31 test subjects who completed a tai chi exercise program had improvements in fasting glucose, quality of life and performed more self care activities than the control group. (8)

Another study reports the improvements on insulin resistance and HbA(1c) were related to losing fat, not the specific tai chi exercise, but suggests a more intense form of tai chi that burns more calories might be effective for blood sugar control. (9)

An overall look at Pub Med articles will reveal conflicting studies on cardiovascular effects, too, but most studies trend in the direction that tai chi improves balance as well as reduces risk factors for chronic disease.

How do I get started?
Personal instruction is always the best method to learn a new form of exercise, especially if you anticipate needing adjustments for your current ability level. Check with your local gym or community calendar for classes. There are plenty of DVDs and YouTube videos for home practice, too.

Check in with your health care team before you get started, and get ready to bring balance back to body, mind and spirit.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician and massage therapist at Vitalichi Acupuncture in Port Charlotte, Florida. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.

Green tea has good science to support health benefits

Tea conceptTea isn’t just for scones and English breakfasts. This beverage, steeped in history and ritual (pun intended) is the subject of daily consumption not only in American and European nations, but also in Asia. Although tea does not get its own pillar in the five pillars of Chinese Medicine, it is included in the first pillar of Diet. You could make the argument that it also belongs in the fourth pillar of Herbal Medicine because it functions not just as a beverage but a medicinal compound as well.

Many patients inquire about the health benefits of various supplements and teas, and about green tea specifically. So here’s an abbreviated look at some recent studies on the effects of green tea on various conditions:

• A study published in April 2015 concludes that “long-term dietary intake of Artemisia extracts and/or green tea extracts can be an effective strategy either to rejuvenate H. pylori atrophic gastritis or to suppress tumorigenesis” helping to heal the digestive tract. (1)

• A paper published in March 2015 found “the 10-year prospective cohort study by Drs. K. Nakachi and K. Imai revealed that drinking 10 Japanese-size cups (120 mL/cup) of green tea per day delayed cancer onset in humans by 7.3 years among females and by 3.2 years among males.” (2)

• In January 2015, results from a study on melanoma “suggest(ed) that green tea polyphenols (GTPs) induce a marked disruption of the uncontrolled cell cycle progression, and that may be a mechanism by which GTPs inhibit the proliferation or suppress the cell viability of melanoma cells.” (3)

• Another study published in January 2015 comparing irradiation verses green tea polyphenols “indicate that nerve allografts pretreated by green tea polyphenols are equivalent to transplanting autologous nerves in the repair of sciatic nerve defects, and promote nerve regeneration. Pretreatment using green tea polyphenols is better than pretreatment with irradiation.” (4)

• An abstract released in February 2015 concluded that “experimental data indicated that EGCG (the bioactive component of green tea) treatment suppresses cell proliferation of SSC-4 human oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC).” (5)

• In a study from February 2014, a study of elderly rats that had a hind limb immobilized for two weeks had better muscle recovery of the plantaris, a fast muscle, although it didn’t help the soleus, a slow muscle. (6)

• Results from a study in October 2014 found “long-term administration of cigarette smoke altered the cellular antioxidant defense system, induced apoptosis in lung tissue, inflammation and damage in liver, lung, and kidney. All these pathophysiological and biochemical events were significantly improved when the cigarette smoke-exposed albino rats were given Chinese green tea infusion as a drink instead of water.” The specific green tea variety used in this study is Lung Chen. (7)

• A study published back in 2011 found “epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG, 0·05 % in drinking-water), the primary polyphenolic component in green tea, effectively delayed the onset of Type 1 diabetes in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice.” (8)

Most of these studies were done on rats and mice, but it provides a broad spectrum of potential health benefits of humans. At the very least, moderate daily consumption of green tea won’t hurt. A good rule of thumb is if it’s something that could normally be consumed, consume it in moderate dietary portions, not concentrated capsules. The biggest concern with green tea intake seem to be too much. Remember, more isn’t always better, and concentrated supplements typically remove other beneficial botanical compounds that frequently work together in ways science hasn’t pinned down yet. Here’s what rxlist.com’s updated guidelines say about possible side effects:

“Green tea is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when consumed as a drink in moderate amounts short-term. Green tea extract is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth for up to 2 years … In some people, green tea can cause stomach upset and constipation. Green tea extracts have been reported to cause liver and kidney problems in rare cases.

“Green tea is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth long-term or in high-doses. It can cause side effects because of the caffeine. These side effects can range from mild to serious and include headache, nervousness, sleep problems, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, irregular heartbeat, tremor, heartburn, dizziness, ringing in the ears, convulsions, and confusion. Green tea seems to reduce the absorption of iron from food. Drinking very high doses of green tea is LIKELY UNSAFE and can actually be fatal. The fatal dose of caffeine in green tea is estimated to be 10-14 grams (150-200 mg per kilogram).”(http://www.rxlist.com/green_tea/supplements.htm)

Like any change in your diet, talk to your health professionals to see if green tea consumption is appropriate for you. But it is generally regarded as safe. Moderation and proper preparation are the keys to getting health benefits from green tea.

How to brew green tea correctly
The best way to brew loose tea is in a strainer that allows the individual leaves to unfurl and steep properly. When brewed at the range of 122 to 180 degrees for a minute, a good quality green tea can be brewed multiple times from the same serving. Preparing green tea in the traditional Chinese way ensures a good tasting tea that isn’t bitter. Steeping a green tea for too long or too hot ruins the tea and isn’t worth drinking. If caffeine is a concern, discard the first brew after steeping for 30 seconds and drink the subsequent brews. This works for any caffeinated tea, by the way.

With dozens of varieties of green tea available, good health is just a cup away.

Pubmed studies on the benefits of green tea
1. Helicobacter. 2015 Apr 10: Dietary Intervention of Artemisia and Green Tea Extracts to Rejuvenate Helicobacter pylori-Associated Chronic Atrophic Gastritis and to Prevent Tumorigenesis.
2. J Cancer Prev. 2015 Mar: Primary cancer prevention by green tea, and tertiary cancer prevention by the combination of green tea catechins and anticancer compounds.
3. Genes Cancer. 2015 Jan: Polyphenols from green tea inhibit the growth of melanoma cells through inhibition of class I histone deacetylases and induction of DNA damage.
4. Neural Regen Res. 2015 Jan: Allograft pretreatment for the repair of sciatic nerve defects: green tea polyphenols versus radiation.
5. Onco Targets Ther. 2015 Feb 20: Epigallocatechin-3-gallate suppresses cell proliferation and promotes apoptosis and autophagy in oral cancer SSC-4 cells.
6. Exp Gerontol. 2014 Feb: Epigallocatechin-3-gallate improves plantaris muscle recovery after disuse in aged rats.
7. Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2014 Oct: Chinese green tea consumption reduces oxidative stress, inflammation and tissues damage in smoke exposed rats.
8. Br J Nutr. 2011 Apr: Epigallocatechin gallate delays the onset of type 1 diabetes in spontaneous non-obese diabetic mice.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician and massage therapist at Vitalichi Acupuncture in Port Charlotte, Florida. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.