Friday, April 30, 2010

Thoughts on Immigration Reform

There are some assertions out there with which I disagree.

I have heard some say that migrant labor is good and even necessary. "They work the jobs that Americans are not willing to do" is a total crock. Americans are willing to do just about any job, they are just not willing to do it for slave wages. You'd be hard pressed to find an American citizen who is willing to mow your lawn for $2/hour. But if you gave him or her minimum wage and benefits, I'm sure you would get some takers (especially in this economy). I don't hear this argument made much lately, but I wanted to address it.

Now you hear all that we need to keep the immigrants (read Mexicans) out. They are taking all our jobs and resources. People suggest building and policing a fence. I think this is ridiculous. In Europe, the borders are not controlled at all. You can walk right from Germany into France without any questions. So why can't I just move into France? Because I cannot get a job there. They are fine to have me come in and spend all my money. I just can't take any of theirs. If I were fabulously wealthy and could live there without having to get a job, I bet they would be fine with that; because I would be spending all my money in their country.

We do not need to physically block people, that hasn't worked and sets up dangerous situations for both parties. We need to make sure that no one can employ someone who is not here legally. Why do they come here? For jobs that pay better than they could get back home. Take away the jobs and they will stop coming. People who employ illegal immigrants are the ones responsible for their continued presence and influence on our society. It is they who should be held responsible. They are putting the bait in the water, we are punishing the fish when they take it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Acupuncture helps spinal cord injury

A new study shows acupuncture may facilitate spinal injury recovery, and the results have nothing to do with balance or chi, but everything to do with nerve cells.

A 2003 study showed acupuncture - a traditional Chinese medicine that treats pain by inserting and manipulating long, thin needles into various points of the body - can improve the sensory and motor functions of people with spinal cord injuries.

More recently, researchers at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea, tried to find out why. The study's results were published in the most recent edition of Neurobiology of Disease.

The researchers damaged the spines of 75 rats. One third were treated with acupuncture.

After 35 days, the rats that received the needle treatment stood and walked better than those that did not.

What's more, the acupuncture-treated rats had less nerve cell death and lower levels of the protein that causes inflammation.

The researchers hypothesize that the needles cause a stress response in the body that lessens inflammation. The inflammation that occurs after spinal cord injuries causes nerve cell death and lessens the chance of recovery.

The study may have implications for spinal injury treatment in humans, though more research is needed.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Too much tofu may harm memory

Surprising news from Indonesia. This study looked at indonesian men and found that those who reported eating more tofu had a reduced memory capacity that the norm. Tempeh, which is a fermented product of the whole soybean and have a lot of folate, did not show this effect. In fact, those who reported eating a lot of tempeh showed higher memory capacity that the norm. So I guess I'll have to start eating some more tempeh. Another good reason to diversify your diet.

Remember, the study did not show that tofu necessarily damages the mind, just that consuming a lot of it may. So this does not mean you should never eat tofu. Like everything, too much of any one thing is not a good thing; and too little of any one thing is also not a good thing. Balance and moderation are always the keys to good health. I know you all understood that, but you'd be surprised how often my patients see things in terms of an all-or-none choice. Too much meat is bad, so meat is bad, so no meat is the best. Broccoli is good, a lot of it must be better. Balance and moderation.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Acupuncture should be part of everyone's comprehensive cancer care. New study shows acupuncture better than traditional care for post-operative complications to the neck

Acupuncture for Pain and Dysfunction After Neck Dissection: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial
David G. Pfister,* Barrie R. Cassileth, Gary E. Deng, K. Simon Yeung, Jennifer S. Lee, Donald Garrity, Angel Cronin, Nancy Lee, Dennis Kraus, Ashok R. Shaha, Jatin Shah, and Andrew J. Vickers
From the Department of Medicine, Sections of Head and Neck Oncology and Integrative Medicine; Department of Epidemiology-Biostatistics; Department of Radiation Oncology; and Department of Surgery, Head and Neck Surgery Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.
* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:
Purpose: To determine whether acupuncture reduces pain and dysfunction in patients with cancer with a history of neck dissection. The secondary objective is to determine whether acupuncture relieves dry mouth in this population.
Patients and Methods: Patients at a tertiary cancer center with chronic pain or dysfunction attributed to neck dissection were randomly assigned to weekly acupuncture versus usual care (eg, physical therapy, analgesia, and/or anti-inflammatory drugs, per patient preference or physician recommendation) for 4 weeks. The Constant-Murley score, a composite measure of pain, function, and activities of daily living, was the primary outcome measure. Xerostomia, a secondary end point, was assessed using the Xerostomia Inventory.
Results: Fifty-eight evaluable patients were accrued and randomly assigned from 2004 to 2007 (28 and 30 patients on acupuncture and control arms, respectively). Constant-Murley scores improved more in the acupuncture group (adjusted difference between groups = 11.2; 95% CI, 3.0 to 19.3; P = .008). Acupuncture produced greater improvement in reported xerostomia (adjusted difference in Xerostomia Inventory = –5.8; 95% CI, –0.9 to –10.7; P = .02).
Conclusion: Significant reductions in pain, dysfunction, and xerostomia were observed in patients receiving acupuncture versus usual care. Although further study is needed, these data support the potential role of acupuncture in addressing post–neck dissection pain and dysfunction, as well as xerostomia.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Study finds that Acupuncture can calm anxious dental patients

Acupuncture can calm anxious dental patients, study finds

If you’re the type who gets anxious about visiting the dentist, you might think the last thing you’d want would be a bunch of extra needles. Apparently, you’d be wrong.

A small study being published in Tuesday’s edition of the journal Acupuncture in Medicine found that dentists who administered acupuncture to their nervous patients succeeded in calming their fears. That allowed all 20 subjects to complete their necessary dental exams and treatment. Without acupuncture, only six of the patients were able to get even partial treatment.

The patients in the study initially scored an average of 26.5 on the Beck Anxiety Index (a score above 26 indicates “severe anxiety”). Five minutes after acupuncture, their average anxiety score dropped to 11.5. The acupuncture focused on two points on the head (GV20 and EX6), and the needles stayed in throughout the patients' dental procedures.

The researchers, from England and Denmark, noted that 5% of people in Western countries have “pronounced dental anxiety” and an additional 20% to 30% have “moderate dental anxiety.” They pointed out that while such patients can be treated with sedatives, hypnosis, biofeedback and other behavioral therapies, those approaches are “time consuming and demand psychotherapeutic education and skills.”

One might think that considerable education and skill are also needed to administer acupuncture safely and effectively, though the researchers didn’t discuss the training involved.

Apparently, the combination of acupuncture and dental work is still uncommon here in the states. But in the U.K. there is such a thing as the British Dental Acupuncture Society.

-- Karen Kaplan

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell

Acupuncture may help people who lose their sense of smell after a viral infection, researchers say.

In a new study, 15 patients with post-viral olfactory dysfunction (PVOD) had 10 weekly, 30-minute sessions of traditional Chinese acupuncture. These patients were compared with PVOD patients treated with vitamin B complex.

Smell function improved in eight patients in the acupuncture group and in two patients in the vitamin B group. The findings suggest that acupuncture may be a new treatment option for patients with PVOD, the researchers reported in the April issue of the journal Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.

There is no validated drug treatment for PVOD. Current treatments include systemic and topical steroids, vitamin B supplements, caroverine, and alpha lipoic acid. In addition to these treatments, many patients use complementary and alternative medicines, the researchers noted.