Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Do you want hexane with your veggie burger?

This is borrowed from  Thanks to Robin Gentry McGee for making me aware.  
This follows what I have been saying for years.  Soy is fine as edamame, tempeh, tofu, and soymilk (sometimes).  But these highly-processed and derived soy products are worse than the real foods they are meant to replace.  Learn more about healthy eating at 

Do You Want Hexane With Your Veggie Burger?

Veggie burgerMany veggie burgers are made using hexane, a pollutant and neurotoxin also found in gasoline, Mother Jones reports, citing a recent study by the Cornucopia Institute. Writes Kiera Butler:
In order to meet the demands of health-conscious consumers, manufacturers of soy-based fake meat like to make their products have as little fat as possible. The cheapest way to do this is by submerging soybeans in a bath of hexane to separate the oil from the protein. Says Cornucopia Institute senior researcher Charlotte Vallaeys, “If a non-organic product contains a soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, or texturized vegetable protein, you can be pretty sure it was made using soy beans that were made with hexane.”

These veggie burgers are made with hexane:
Amy’s Kitchen
Boca Burger (conventional)
Franklin Farms
Garden Burger
It’s All Good Lightlife
Morningstar Farms
President’s Choice
Taste Above
Trader Joe’s
Yves Veggie Cuisin
While these veggie burgers are hexane-free:
Boca Burgers “made with organic soy”
Helen’s Kitchen
Morningstar “made with organic”
Superburgers by Turtle Island

The Mother Jones blog post kicked up a lot of comments and questions and led Butler to do a follow-up interview with Vallaeys. The researcher points out that the hexane process is used to make many cooking oils, margarines, and other products. A key question of course, is whether residues from the hexane remain in the food—and Vallaeys concedes that more testing is needed in this realm.
But personally, I don’t need any more testing to convince me that using a gasoline ingredient to soak the fat out of vegetables is a bad idea, and to cut foods that use this process from my diet.
See the full report (pdf) on the Cornucopia website.
While the rest of us are freaking out about our veggie burgers, we might do well to get outraged on behalf of babies, too. Writes Butler:
More worrisome still: According to the report, “Nearly every major ingredient in conventional soy-based infant formula is hexane extracted.”

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Job offer

My wife and I were just offered professorships and/or research positions at the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine.  This is contingent on our completing our PhD's of course.  Apparently our visiting professors from China were impressed enough with our entire class, that upon their return they reported to their administrators that they should try to solicit us all to be professors.  I don't know what I think about this yet.  All my family is here and I would be at least 24 hours away if I needed to see them.  I don't know what I would do with my practice and my house.  I don't know how it would be for my daughter (the air quality in Guangzhou is not great).  But it could be a great opportunity for us. 

I would love to become a professor at an American university someday (teaching undergrads about Chinese understanding of and recommendations for health, and teaching med students about the paradigm).  A year or two of teaching at the University in Guangzhou could make that goal more attainable.  I don't know yet.  I am just excited at the offer an decided to share that with the world. 

Be Well,

oh, and read my book The Asian Diet


Acupuncture is better than drugs for hot flashes, study finds

borrowed from

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Acupuncture works as well as a drug commonly used to combat hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms that can accompany breast cancer treatment, and its benefits last longer, without bad side effects, researchers said on Monday.
They tested acupuncture, which began in China more than 2,000 years ago and involves inserting needles into the body, against the Wyeth antidepressant Effexor, for hot flashes in breast cancer patients.
Acupuncture was just as effective as Effexor, also called venlafaxine, in managing symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats, according to researchers led by Dr. Eleanor Walker of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
After 12 weeks of treatment, symptoms were reduced for 15 additional weeks for women who had undergone acupuncture, compared with two weeks for those who had taken Effexor, Walker said.
"It was a more durable effect," Walker, whose findings were presented at an American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology meeting in Boston, said in a telephone interview.
There were no bad side effects with acupuncture, and women reported increased energy, overall sense of well-being and sexual desire, the researchers said.
Those taking Effexor reported side effects including nausea, headache, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, increased blood pressure, fatigue and anxiety.
The study adds to a growing body of evidence of the value of acupuncture. Earlier research had shown it can reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and post-operative pain.
PAGEBREAK "It's been tested directly against a drug that we use regularly. And it's more effective. It has benefits, as opposed to any side-effects," Walker said.
"If you only have to give women treatment three to four times a year as opposed to having to take a pill every day, that's going to be more cost-effective for insurance companies and the patient," Walker added.
Breast cancer patients can develop menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes after treatment with chemotherapy and anti-estrogen hormones. Hormone replacement therapy is often used to treat such symptoms in women without breast cancer, but breast cancer patients cannot use that therapy because it may raise the risk of the cancer's return.
Effexor, one of a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, is one of the most commonly used drugs to treat hot flashes in these women.
But the researchers said some women opt not to take such drugs out of concern over side effects.
Forty-seven breast cancer patients took part in the study, about half getting acupuncture and half getting Effexor. The women kept track of the number and severity of hot flashes before, during and after the 12 weeks of treatment.
Walker said it is unclear exactly how acupuncture is working. Experts say it may help the activity of the body's natural pain-killing chemicals among other things.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunscreens may actually accelerate skin cancer

(borrowed from , written by Andrew Schneider).

WASHINGTON (May 24) -- Almost half of the 500 most popular sunscreen products may actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer because they contain vitamin A or its derivatives, according to an evaluation of those products released today.

AOL News also has learned through documents and interviews that the Food and Drug Administration has known of the potential danger for as long as a decade without alerting the public, which the FDA denies.

The study was released with Memorial Day weekend approaching. Store shelves throughout the country are already crammed with tubes, jars, bottles and spray cans of sunscreen.

The white goop, creams and ointments might prevent sunburn. But don't count on them to keep the ultraviolet light from destroying your skin cells and causing tumors and lesions, according to researchers at Environmental Working Group.

In their annual report to consumers on sunscreen, they say that only 39 of the 500 products they examined were considered safe and effective to use.
The report cites these problems with bogus sun protection factor (SPF) numbers:

•The use of the hormone-disrupting chemical oxybenzone, which penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream.

•Overstated claims about performance.

•The lack of needed regulations and oversight by the Food and Drug Administration.

But the most alarming disclosure in this year's report is the finding that vitamin A and its derivatives, retinol and retinyl palmitate, may speed up the cancer that sunscreen is used to prevent.

A dangerous additive
The industry includes vitamin A in its sunscreen formulations because it is an anti-oxidant that slows skin aging.

But the EWG researchers found the initial findings of an FDA study of vitamin A's photocarcinogenic properties, meaning the possibility that it results in cancerous tumors when used on skin exposed to sunlight.

"In that yearlong study, tumors and lesions developed up to 21 percent faster in lab animals coated in a vitamin A-laced cream than animals treated with a vitamin-free cream," the report said.

The conclusion came from EWG's analysis of initial findings released last fall by the FDA and the National Toxicology Program, the federal government's principle evaluator of substances that raise public health concerns.

EWG's conclusions were subsequently scrutinized by outside toxicologists.

Based on the strength of the findings by FDA's own scientists, many in the public health community say they can't believe nor understand why the agency hasn't already notified the public of the possible danger.

"There was enough evidence 10 years ago for FDA to caution consumers against the use of vitamin A in sunscreens," Jane Houlihan, EWG's senior vice president for research, told AOL News.

"FDA launched this one-year study, completed their research and now 10 years later, they say nothing about it, just silence."

On Friday, the FDA said the allegations are not true.

"We have thoroughly checked and are not aware of any studies," an FDA spokesperson told AOL News. She said she checked with bosses throughout the agency and found no one who knew of the vitamin A sunscreen research being done by or on behalf of the agency.

But documents from the FDA and the National Toxicology Program showed that the agency had done the research.

"Retinyl palmitate was selected by (FDA's) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for photo-toxicity and photocarcinogenicity testing based on the increasingly widespread use of this compound in cosmetic retail products for use on sun-exposed skin," said an October 2000 report by the National Toxicology Program.

FDA's own website said the animal studies were done at its National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Ark. And it was scientists from the FDA center and National Toxicology Program who posted the study data last fall.

In a perfect world
The ideal sunscreen would completely block the UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression and damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours and not form harmful ingredients when degraded by UV light, the report said.

But in the U.S., there is currently no sunscreen that meets all of these criteria. European countries have more chemical combinations to offer, but in the U.S. the major choice is between the "chemical" sunscreens, which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body's hormone systems, and "mineral" sunscreens zinc and titanium dioxide.

Increasingly, as AOL News reported in March, the industry is using titanium dioxide that is made nanosized, which a growing number of researchers believe have serious health implications.

The sunscreen industry cringes when EWG releases its yearly report -- this is its fourth. The industry charges that the advocacy group wants to do away with all sunscreen products, a claim that is not accurate.

The report's researchers clearly say that an effective sunscreen prevents more damage than it causes, but it wants consumers to have accurate information on the limitations of what they buy and on the potentially harmful chemicals in some of those products.

EWG does warn consumers not to depend on any sunscreen for primary protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Hats, clothing and shade are still the most reliable sun protection available, they say.

Don't count on the numbers

Some of us are old enough to remember when the idea of having a tan was good, a sign of health, when billboards and magazine ads featured the Coppertone girl showing off her tan when a puppy pulls down her bathing suit bottom.

Going for that tan, we coated our kids and ourselves with sun blockers with sun protection factors of 1 or 2. Some overly cautious parents might have smeared on a 4 during the hottest part of a day.

But we've learned of the dangers that come from exposure to the sun's rays, especially ultraviolet A and B. So today, drugstore shelves are crammed with sunscreens boasting SPFs of 30, 45, 80 or even higher.

However, the new report says those numbers are often meaningless and dangerous because products with high SPF ratings sell a false sense of security, encouraging people using them to stay out in the sun longer.

"People don't get the high SPF they pay for," the report says. "People apply about a quarter of the recommended amount. So in everyday practice, a product labeled SPF 100 really performs like SPF 3.2, an SPF 30 rating equates to a 2.3 and an SPF 15 translates to 2."

In 2007, the report says, the FDA published proposed regulations that would prohibit manufacturers from labeling sunscreens with an SPF higher than "SPF 50." The agency wrote that higher values would be "inherently misleading," given that "there is no assurance that the specific values themselves are in fact truthful."

This is being widely ignored by the sunscreen makers who are heavily advertising their 80, 90 and 100 SPF products.

"Flouting FDA's proposed regulation," companies substantially increased their high-SPF offerings in 2010 with one in six brands now listing SPF values higher than 50. "Neutrogena and Banana Boat stand out among the offenders, with six and four products labeled as 'SPF 100,' respectively," the new report says.

The full list of the best and worst sunscreens can be found on the EWG's searchable database. (Update: The database has been loading slowly today. You may want to try it again later.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Green Fest Update

Green fest was a smashing success for the Illinois Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine booth.  I personally gave about 150 treatments over the two days; along with our volunteers we gave over 360 treatments.  Of those treated, 95% agreed that acupuncture is not painful, and 97% reported feeling improvement in whatever symptom for which they requested treatment. 

The next chance to try acupuncture for free is at the Wilmette Sidewalk sale which is the weekend after July 4th. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Free Acupuncture this Weekend

Come to the Green Fest at Chicago's Navy Pier this weekend, May 22 and 23.  The Illinois Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine will be offering free treatments to all who desire.  I will be there all day both days.  So come by and visit; and try some free acupuncture.  You'll never find a better price.

It has helped Billions of people, it can help you too.

More inf about Green Fest at
More about my office in Wilmette at
More about our downtown location at
More about healthy living at

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

unplugging from your medicine cabinet: respecting the body's intelligence

borrowed from

Unplugging from your Medicine Cabinet:
Respecting the Body's Intelligence

It may be time to go on a special type of vacation: a drug vacation.* A drug vacation is a time in which you reduce the doses or eliminate entirely whatever drug or drugs you are taking. A drug vacation may give you (and your doctor) an opportunity to learn whether you really need to continue taking this drug or not. More important, this vacation will give your body an opportunity to manifest its everyday self-regulating and self-healing propensities without the crutch of a pharmaceutical agent inhibiting or suppressing its important work.
IF you are ready, step away from the medicine cabinet. You may not even recognize it, but you may be addicted to one or more of the drugs there. It may be time that you received an intervention, though this time, you should probably intervene on yourself rather than have anyone do it for or to you.
You may have noticed but your body has become accustomed to these drugs, and you've probably have had to increase the dosage over time, though you probably also noticed that various weird symptoms emerged when you did so. You then probably chose to increase it on some days and decrease on other days, in the hopes that they will still work, though some people may wonder if they are really helping or not.
You've probably also experienced other symptoms and syndromes for which you've been encouraged to take additional drugs. If you're smart enough, you're wondering what interactions the drugs have. Your doctor has told you that "there are no problems" taking two, three, four or five medications together, but he cannot point to ANY research that has ever studied that question.
In any case, with the increased number of pills or the higher dosages, you, like Alice in Wonderland, may seem to be walking twice as fast but remaining in the same place (or are going backwards). Over the years, you're probably noticing that you are having decreased amounts of energy, increased anxiety or depression, new symptoms, including some real strange ones, and in general, you're not feeling like your "old self."
Put down that aspirin, acetaminophen, or other pain medication. Don't open that bottle or box of allergy medication, sleep aid, headache drug or whatever and step away from the medicine cabinet.
Why Unplugging Works
The logic and wisdom of "unplugging" from various stressors in your life is that there is an inherent intelligence of our bodymind that continually strives to defend and heal ourselves. Living systems have certain innate self-organizing and self-healing propensities, and unplugging is simply an important strategy that enables your bodymind to work its every-day magic as it manifests its magnificent survival strategies.
Sadly, many of us are so arrogant that we think that we are smarter than our own bodies. We think that we can do better than what nature has provided us. The idea that we can or even should "conquer" nature is so 19th century. Some people today actually think that our bodies are not very smart and that we could and should overcome its weaknesses by the use of pharmaceutical agents that can rid the body of its symptoms.
The fact of the matter is that our symptoms are our body's best efforts to defend and heal ourselves from infection, environmental assault or any type of stress. Drugs that suppress our symptoms may provide short-term benefits, but they usually inhibit our own self-healing and self-regulating functions.
Ultimately, from a purely pharmacological point of view, drugs do not have "side effects." Drugs only have "effects," and we arbitrarily differentiate those effects of the drug that we like from those that we don't like (and we then call these latter symptoms the "side effects").
The lesson here is that just because a drug is effective in getting rid of a symptom does not necessarily mean that this treatment is truly curative, and in fact, the elimination of the body's symptoms may cause more long-term harm than good.
Wisdom of the Bodymind

The basic assumption behind the broad field of natural medicine is that the human body has an inherent wisdom within it that strives to defend itself and to survive. Symptoms of illness are not simply something "wrong" with the person, but instead, symptoms are actually responses and efforts of the organism to defend and heal itself against infection and/or stress. Hans Selye, M.D., Ph.D., the father of stress theory, once asserted, "Disease is not mere surrender to attack but also the fight for health; unless there is a fight, there is no disease."
Our human body has survived these thousands of years because of its incredible adaptive capabilities, and one of the ways that it adapts is through the creation of symptoms. Whether it be through fever and inflammation, cough and expectoration, nausea and vomiting, fainting and comatose states, and even the variety of emotional and mental states, each symptom represents the best efforts of the bodymind in its effort to fight infection and/or adapt to physical and psychological stresses.
Although symptoms may be the best effort of the organism to defend itself at that time, it is not usually effective to simply let the body try to heal itself. Most often, some treatment must be provided to help nurture, nourish and augment the body's own wisdom. The challenge to physicians, healers and patients is to determine when to help aid this inner wisdom of the body and when to intervene to make certain that the body does not harm itself.
The word "symptom" comes from a Greek root and refers to "something that falls together with something else." Symptoms are a sign or signal of something else, and treating them doesn't necessarily change that "something else." Ultimately, a symptom is a signal, a warning light that something is off-balance. It is akin to an oil warning light in your car. Although this light will go off if you unscrew the lamp, this simple action doesn't solve the more complex problem that led to the light turning on in the first place.

Concepts in new physics offer further support for the notion that living and non-living systems have inherent self-regulating, self-organizing and self-healing capacities. This ongoing effort to maintain homeostasis (balance) and to develop higher and higher levels of order and stability have been described in detail by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ilya Prigogine in Order Out of Chaos, Fritjof Capra in The Turning Point, and Erich Jantsch in The Self-Organizing Universe. In systems thinking, "perturbations" are understood as efforts of a system to re-establish balance and to increase its complexity so that there is greater dynamic homeostasis.
Please know that I am not "Pollyanna-ish" about the wisdom of the bodymind. In other words, as much as I respect the innate intelligence of the human body, I also recognize its limitations. Although the human body has magnificent self-regulating, self-healing propensities, it is usually not enough to "let the body heal itself." Usually, one needs to nurture and nourish the wisdom of the body. Various naturopathic strategies and homeopathic medicines help to augment this wisdom. The fact that homeopathy has been called "medical biomimicry" and "medical aikido" helps us to better understand why it is so effective. By using a medicine to mimic the body's own wisdom, the body is better able to defend and heal itself.
It is no coincidence that two of the very few conventional medical treatments that augment the body's own immune system are immunizations and allergy treatments, and these drug treatment modalities "coincidentally" derive from the homeopathic principle of similar (treating "like with like").
However, in order for naturopathic and homeopathic medicines to work most effectively, it is sometimes necessary to diminish or eliminate those drugs that suppress symptoms and thereby inhibit the body's own self-healing tendencies. Is it time that you took a vacation from your medications? In so doing, you may finally be giving your body an opportunity to express its own defenses and to heal.

* I am primarily referring to taking a vacation from over-the-counter drugs, but if you're taking prescription drugs (Rx), I suggest you to talk with your doctor about creating a plan to diminish the doses of whatever drugs you're taking, with a goal of stopping the medication(s) for a period of time, if possible and appropriate.

Dana Ullman, MPH, is America's leading spokesperson for homeopathy and is the founder of He is the author of 10 books, including his bestseller, Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines. His most recent book is, The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy (the Foreword to this book was written by Dr. Peter Fisher, the Physician to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II). Dana lives, practices, and writes from Berkeley, California.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pesticides linked with ADHD

Borrowed from  Thanks to my friend Robin Gentry McGee for making me aware of it.

Pesticides linked to ADHD
MONDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that exposure to high levels of organophosphate pesticides, commonly found on berries, celery and other produce, could raise the odds for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.
At this point, though, there is no evidence that pesticide exposure can actually cause ADHD, stated the authors of a paper appearing in the June issue of Pediatrics.
Certainly parents and children shouldn't swear off fruits and veggies, said study lead author Maryse Bouchard, an adjunct researcher in the department of environmental and occupational health at the University of Montreal and at Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre. However, "I think it's safe to say that we should as much as possible reduce our exposure to pesticides," she said.
That would mean going organic, buying at farmers' markets and washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming them, she said.
"I always encourage my families to embrace healthy lifestyles in general," agreed Dr. Nakia Scott, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and a child psychiatrist with Lone Star Circle of Care. "I think it's much more important that they're eating fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains instead of sodas and fast foods and I'm not saying that they're not going to eat any produce because it might contain pesticides."
Previous research has shown an association between both prenatal and postnatal organophosphate exposure and developmental problems in young children.
But most prior studies have focused on excessive rather than average exposure to organophosphates.
"Organophosphates are one of the most widely used pesticides in agriculture to protect crops and fruits and vegetables," Bouchard noted. "For children, the major source of exposure would be the diet -- fruits and vegetables in particular."
In their study, Bouchard and her colleagues analyzed data on pesticide exposure and ADHD in more than 1,100 American children aged 8 to 15.
Children with higher pesticide levels in their urine were more likely to have ADHD, the team found.
"The analysis showed that the higher the level of exposure [as measured by metabolites in the urine], the higher the odds of having ADHD," Bouchard added.
Just how might pesticides harm brain development? According to the authors, high doses of organophosphates may inhibit acetylcholinesterase, a nervous system enzyme. Lower doses of the pesticide may affect different growth factors and neurotransmitters.
The findings, if replicated, may provide another clue into the causes of ADHD, a condition which affects three to seven percent of school-aged children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We do have a fair amount of evidence about other causes of ADHD," Scott said. "We know that ADHD is a highly heritable disorder. At least one-third of fathers who have had ADHD in their youth have a child with ADHD."
"There are also prenatal risks such as tobacco exposure and alcohol exposure," she added. "There's also a possibility that children who are exposed to high levels of lead prior to the age of six may develop ADHD."
More information
There's more on shielding kids from pesticides at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I was quoted in Today Chicago Woman Blog

Check out Today's Chicago Woman's Blog to read what I had to say about acupuncture treating seasonal allergies. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Quote from Lao Tzu

"He who knows others is wise.  He who knows himself is enlightened."  Please forgive the gender specificity; it's still a good quote.   The answers lie within, not outside of ourselves.  Life give us clues so that we an figure out the world on our own terms.  We cannot and should not blindly follow the path that others have followed, for that will certainly not be our correct path.  If you can understand yourself, you can understand the whole world.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Our medical mindset is so misguided

Prolonged stress increases Cortisol and heart disease.  So we interpret that the Cortisol is the problem.  Improper diet and sedentary lifestyle is associated with obesity and hypertention.  So the obesity is the problem, we need to make a pill to keep the weight off, or the hypertension is the problem and we make a pill to lower the blood pressure.  Excessive intake of bad food gives us indigestion and reflux, so the answer is to take a pill to reduce your natural response. 

Every symptom is the body trying to tell us something.  We need to listen to the messages our body gives us, not suppress them.    Hypertension is not a disease; it is a symptom of something deeper.  Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) is not a disease, it is a symptom.  Suppressing symptoms disables our body's natural guidance system.  (Of course, elevated cholesterol was not always a symptom we could notice).  If a condition is life-threatening, then we may need to use drugs or herbs or acupuncture to bring the symptoms down in a hurry.  But we still need to look at why the symptom arose in the first place and correct that cause. 

This problem comes from the Western mindset that the body is separate from the mind.  More specifically, that the body is the servant of the mind.  And just like our cars, we can use and abuse our bodies and there will be mechanics (doctors) to put us back together again.  We need to respect our bodies and listen to them.   The mind and the body are inseparable. 

Read my book "The Asian Diet" to learn how changing our diet, lifestyle, and attitudes can help you live your healthiest life possible. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

posting some studies about acupuncture for a skeptic

This is in response to a skeptic posting comments asserting acupuncture does nothing and has never been shown to be effective.  

@ newcoyote, as an acupuncturist with over 10 years experience, I used to see a lot of this skepticism.  Over that time, John Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Duke University, the NIH, AMA, and WHO have all come out asserting that acupuncture works.  I'm sure you know better than them though. 

Here is some of the proof you asserted does not exist.  Just because we don't understand something does not mean it does not work.  We did not understand gravity for a long time (and to a great extent we still don't understand it), but it still holds us to the ground.\

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Acupuncture best bet to ease pain

Acupuncture the best bet to ease pain

A new study has supported the use of traditional Chinese acupuncture method for pain treatment.

Dr. Philip Lang and colleagues of the University of Munich used quantitative sensory testing to identify changes in pain sensitivity with acupuncture in 24 healthy volunteers.

After applying acupuncture to the leg, the researchers found that pain thresholds increased by up to 50 per cent. Effects were noted in both the treated leg and the untreated (contralateral) leg.

Quantitative sensory testing is used clinically to help physicians understand specific injuries in nerve fibers associated with chronic pain.

It includes tests of both thermal perception (heat and cold), and mechanical perception (pressure applied to the skin).

The patterns of response provide diagnostic information in patients with nerve injury regarding the type of nerve involved, and possible treatments.

The results pointed to two nerve fibres-the ‘A delta’ pain fibers and the ‘C’ pain fibers-as being specifically affected by acupuncture.

Although the effects were modest, the researchers believe they provide the basis for future studies in individuals with chronic pain, where the effects might be more dramatic.

The study also supported the effects of three different forms of acupuncture- manual acupuncture needling alone and with the addition of high-frequency and low-frequency electrical stimulation.

An experienced acupuncturist performed all treatments, applied to acupuncture points commonly used in pain management

The results provide a scientific background for the ancient practice of acupuncture, according to Dr. Dominik Irnich, the study’s leading author.

"Our results show that contralateral stimulation leads to a remarkable pain relief. This suggests that acupuncturists should needle contralaterally if the affected side is too painful or not accessible-for example, if the skin is injured or there is a dressing in place," added Irnich.

Dr. Steven L. Shafer, Editor-in-Chief of Anesthesia & Analgesia and Professor of Anesthesiology at Columbia University, views the results as an important preliminary finding.

"Reproducible findings are the cornerstone of scientific inquiry. The authors have clearly described their methodology, and their findings. If other laboratories can reproduce these results in properly controlled studies, then this provides further support for the scientific basis of acupuncture. Additionally, the ability of quantitative sensory testing to identify specific types of nerves involved in pain transmission may help direct research into the mechanism of acupuncture analgesia," commented Shafer.

The study has been published in the May issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS).

If you are in Chicago, visit Jason and Jeanie Bussell for your acupuncture needs. Find us at and

More reasons to avoid dairy from Dr. Mark Hyman

Found at, where this is all presented in a video.

Got milk?

These days, it seems like almost everybody does. Celebrities, athletes, and even former president Clinton's head of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, are all proud to wear the white "milk mustache." After all, everyone knows that you need milk to be healthy ...

Dairy is nature's perfect food -- but only if you're a calf.

If that sounds shocking to you, it's because very few people are willing to tell the truth about dairy. In fact, criticizing milk in America is like taking on motherhood, apple pie, or baseball. But that's just what I'm about to do.

Based on the research and my experience practicing medicine, I typically advise most of my patients to avoid dairy products completely. I like ice cream just as much as the next person, but as a scientist I have to look honestly at what we know. In today's blog I will explore many of the documented ill-effects of dairy, and give you six reasons you should avoid dairy at all costs.

The Reason I Have Problems with the USDA Food Pyramid

I'm aware that my advice to avoid dairy flies in the face of the new, "up-to-date" food pyramid from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA's pyramid recommends drinking 3 glasses of milk a day. What's wrong with that? Well, for one thing, it's not a recommendation that's based on strict science.

Some of the "experts" who helped create the pyramid actually work for the dairy industry, which makes the US Department of agriculture's recommendations reflect industry interests, not science or our best interests.

In fact, Walter Willett, M.D., Ph.D -- the second-most-cited scientist in all of clinical medicine and the head of nutrition at Harvard's School of Public Health -- is one of the pyramid's most vocal critics. He's even called its guidelines "udderly ridiculous." That's not something a Harvard scientist says lightly.

But Dr. Willett is right. The pyramid just isn't based on key scientific findings about health. In a moment we will take a look at some of the pyramid's recommendations and why I disagree with them.

But before I dissect why the current food pyramid is harmful to your health, I want to offer a bit of hope. I recently attended a medical conference put on by Harvard Medical School and the Culinary Institute of America called Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives and met Eric Rimm, who works closely with Walter Willett at Harvard School of Public Health and is a member of the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee.

I asked him if he felt that science not industry would be shaping the new guidelines and he said there was only now one industry scientist on the new panel and he was objective and agreeable to make changes when presented the data. I am anxious to see how the science matches policy but feel a ray of hope that for the first time in the history of our dietary guidelines we will see science predominate, not industry interests and that the language will be direct, clear and simple to understand for all Americans. The guidelines from the early 1990's promoting the consumption of 6-11 servings of bread and cereals daily led to the pasta, carb, sugar generation and led to the largest epidemic of obesity in the history of our species.

Let's hope the new guidelines for 2010 will guide us toward greater health, not an increasing burden of obesity, diabetes and chronic disease. The USDA food policy guidelines form the basis of the school lunch program and it has contributed to a tripling of obesity in children. Let's hope we can serve up a different lunch menu for our children and our nation.

The simple idea that science should become policy is unfortunately one that has found little traction in Washington. But that seems to be shifting a little now.

Now back to why the last government guidelines from 2005 are harmful to your health!

1. Consume a variety of foods within and among the basic food groups while staying within your body's energy needs.

Sounds sensible -- but which food groups? If you choose dairy, meat, fats, and carbohydrates, the "perfect" meal could be a cheeseburger, milkshake, and fries with ketchup (potatoes and tomatoes are the two top vegetables consumed in America). Generic advice like that is pretty meaningless and potentially harmful.

2. Control your caloric intake to manage body weight.

Again, that sounds good, but as I wrote in my book UltraMetabolism, even the best-trained nutritionists and dietitians can't come close to correctly estimating their own caloric intake in a day. Also consider this: Is it okay to consume all of your calories from cola or ice cream as long as you stay within my caloric needs? Of course not. So this is more useless advice.

3. Increase intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nonfat or low-fat milk products.

Well, fruits, veggies, and whole grains are great. Milk -- not so much. I'll get back to that in a minute.

4. Choose carbohydrates wisely.

Who could argue with that? But how do they define "wisely"? The real advice here should be to cut down sugar intake from 185 pounds per person per year (what we currently consume) to less than a pound, avoid flour products (except as a treat), and stick to whole-food carbohydrates like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.

5. Choose to prepare food with little salt.

That's not bad advice. But it doesn't make sense if most of what you eat is packaged or processed foods that you don't actually prepare. For most Americans who eat half of their meals outside their homes, this isn't helpful. A better recommendation would be to avoid packaged, processed, canned, prepared, and fast foods (unless you know exactly how they are made).

6. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.

Sounds good -- but if you're usually drinking two bottles of wine a night, then one seems like moderation! I think a better suggestion is to limit your alcohol consumption to half a drink a day or 3 glasses a week (the amount that seems to have the most health benefit).

7. Don't eat unsafe foods.

Of course you shouldn't leave your egg salad out in the hot sun or toss your salad with hands that just handled raw chicken coated with salmonella. But the food pyramid guidelines don't mention pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified foods, despite scientific evidence of their harm. Shame on the USDA!

You can see now why I have big problems with the food pyramid! Its guidelines try to sound sensible -- while still protecting the interests of the food industry, the agriculture industry, and all of the lobbyists paying for the elections of the Congress. That way everybody's happy ...

But I'm not, and you shouldn't be either. The public just isn't served by this watered down, confusing, and useless pyramid. The next guidelines, I hope will be better, especially with independent scientists like Eric Rimm involved. Worse, some of the recommendations are downright harmful --like the one to drink more milk and dairy products.

The Truth about Dairy

According to Dr. Willett, who has done many studies and reviewed the research on this topic, there are many reasons to pass up milk, including:

1. Milk doesn't reduce fractures.(i) Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk. In fact, according to the Nurses' Health Study dairy may increase risk of fractures by 50 percent!

2. Less dairy, better bones. Countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.

3. Calcium isn't as bone-protective as we thought.(ii) Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. Vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.

4. Calcium may raise cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man's risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent.(iii) Plus, dairy consumption increases the body's level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) -- a known cancer promoter.

5. Calcium has benefits that dairy doesn't. Calcium supplements, but not dairy products, may reduce the risk of colon cancer.(iv)

6. Not everyone can stomach dairy.(v) About 75 percent of the world's population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products -- a problem called lactose intolerance.

Based on such findings, Dr. Willet has come to some important conclusions:

• Everybody needs calcium -- but probably not as much as our government's recommended daily allowance (RDA) and calcium from diet, including greens and beans is better utilized by the body with less risk than calcium supplements.

• Calcium probably doesn't prevent broken bones. Few people in this country are likely to reduce their fracture risk by getting more calcium.

• Men may not want to take calcium supplements. Supplements of calcium and vitamin D may be reasonable for women.

• Dairy may be unhealthy. Advocating dairy consumption may have negative effects on health.
If all that isn't enough to swear you off milk, there are a few other scientific findings worth noting. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently asked the UDSA to look into the scientific basis of the claims made in the "milk mustache" ads. Their panel of scientists stated the truth clearly:

• Milk doesn't benefit sports performance.

• There's no evidence that dairy is good for your bones or prevents osteoporosis -- in fact, the animal protein it contains may help cause bone loss!

• Dairy is linked to prostate cancer.

• It's full of saturated fat and is linked to heart disease.

• Dairy causes digestive problems for the 75 percent of people with lactose intolerance.

• Dairy aggravates irritable bowel syndrome.

Simply put, the FTC asked the dairy industry, "Got Proof?" -- and the answer was NO!

Plus, dairy may contribute to even more health problems, like:

• Allergies (vi)
• Sinus problems
• Ear infections
• Type 1 diabetes (vii)
• Chronic constipation (viii)
• Anemia (in children)

Due to these concerns, many have begun to consider raw milk an alternative. But that isn't really a healthy form of dairy either ...

Yes, raw, whole, organic milk eliminates concerns like pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and the effects of homogenization and pasteurization -- but to me, these benefits don't outweigh dairy's potential risks.
From an evolutionary point of view, milk is a strange food for humans. Until 10,000 years ago we didn't domesticate animals and weren't able to drink milk (unless some brave hunter-gather milked a wild tiger or buffalo!).

If you don't believe that, consider this: The majority of humans naturally stop producing significant amounts of lactase - the enzyme needed to properly metabolize lactose, the sugar in milk -- sometime between the ages of two and five. In fact, for most mammals, the normal condition is to stop producing the enzymes needed to properly digest and metabolize milk after they have been weaned.

Our bodies just weren't made to digest milk on a regular basis. Instead, most scientists agree that it's better for us to get calcium, potassium, protein, and fats from other food sources, like whole plant foods -- vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and seaweed.

So here is my advice for dealing with dairy.

6 Tips for Dealing with Dairy

• Take your Cow for a Walk. It will do you much more good than drinking milk.

• Don't rely on dairy for healthy bones. If you want healthy bones, get plenty of exercise and supplement with 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily.

• Get your calcium from food. These include dark green leafy vegetables, sesame tahini, sea vegetables, and sardines or salmon with the bones.

• Try giving up all dairy. That means eliminate milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream for two weeks and see if you feel better. You should notice improvements with your sinuses, post-nasal drip, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, energy, and weight. Then start eating dairy again and see how you feel. If you feel worse, you should try to give it up for life.

• If you can tolerate dairy, use only raw, organic dairy products. I suggest focusing on fermented products like unsweetened yogurt and kefir, occasionally.

• If you have to feed your child formula from milk, don't worry. The milk in infant formula is hydrolyzed or broken down and easier to digest (although it can still cause allergies). Once your child is a year old, switch him or her to real food and almond milk.

Still got milk? I hope not! Remember, dairy is not crucial for good health. I encourage you to go dairy-free and see what it does for you.

Now I'd like to hear from you ...

Do you agree or disagree that dairy is bad for you?

Have you experienced any problems consuming dairy?

What changes -- for better or worse -- have you experienced if you've tried eliminating dairy?

Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below...

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD


(i) Feskanich D, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA. Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study. Am J Public Health. 1997 Jun;87(6):992-7.

(ii) Feskanich D, Willett WC, Colditz GA. Calcium, vitamin D, milk consumption, and hip fractures: a prospective study among postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Feb;77(2):504-11.

(iii) Tseng M, Breslow RA, Graubard BI, Ziegler RG. Dairy, calcium, and vitamin D intakes and prostate cancer risk in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Epidemiologic Follow-up Study cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 May;81(5):1147-54.

(iv) Huncharek M, Muscat J, Kupelnick B. Colorectal cancer risk and dietary intake of calcium, vitamin D, and dairy products: a meta-analysis of 26,335 cases from 60 observational studies. Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(1):47-69.

(v) Brannon PM, Carpenter TO, Fernandez JR, Gilsanz V, Gould JB, Hall KE, Hui SL, Lupton JR, Mennella J, Miller NJ, Osganian SK, Sellmeyer DE, Suchy FJ, Wolf MA. NIH Consensus Development Conference Statement: Lactose Intolerance and Health. NIH Consens State Sci Statements. 2010 Feb 24;27(2).

(vi) Bartley J, McGlashan SR. Does milk increase mucus production? Med Hypotheses. 2010 Apr;74(4):732-4.

(vii) Luopajärvi K, Savilahti E, Virtanen SM, Ilonen J, Knip M, Akerblom HK, Vaarala O. Enhanced levels of cow's milk antibodies in infancy in children who develop type 1 diabetes later in childhood. Pediatr Diabetes. 2008 Oct;9(5):434-41.

(viii) El-Hodhod MA, Younis NT, Zaitoun YA, Daoud SD. Cow's milk allergy related pediatric constipation: Appropriate time of milk tolerance. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2009 Jun 25.

Mark Hyman, M.D. practicing physician and founder of The UltraWellness Center is a pioneer in functional medicine. Dr. Hyman is now sharing the 7 ways to tap into your body's natural ability to heal itself. You can follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, watch his videos on Youtube and become a fan on Facebook.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cooked vegetables are better than raw

There are raw-food proponents who argue that cooking a food destroys all the nutritional value. This is not true. To lightly steam or saute a food does destroy about 10% of the nutrition, but that remaining 90% is then unlocked and available. Whatever you put in your stomach that is raw and cold, you have to heat and cook. This steals your energy and slows your metabolism. We get all of our energy from our digestive system; we don't want to waste too much of that energy in cooking our food. The less efficient our digestion is, the more food our bodies will ask for.

Some people assert that we want to have inefficient digestion. That by giving ourselves harder-to-digest foods, then that will make our digestive systems work harder and go faster. That's like arguing that "I want to make my car go faster, so I'll put a 2000 pound trailer on the back of it". The digestive system is not a muscle, it is a system. The harder we make it for it to do its job, the slower it will work.

We all know people who are trying to lose weight, who eat a big salad every day, and are not losing weight. This is because salad is too difficult to digest. It dampens the digestive fire. In China they have virtually no raw food and do not suffer from nutritional deficiencies as a result. Thew few raw-food vegans that I know are some of the most unhealthy-looking people I know. They are gaunt and pale. They are not getting enough nutrition out of their food.

Calories and energy are separate concepts. We want to get all the energy out of the food so we can be active and animated enough to burn all the calories. But as I have written in previous posts, calories really don't matter anyway. Caloric science is flawed.

Cooking has been a part of every recorded culture. It was not long after people harnessed fire that we figured out to use it on food. This is because we used to pay attention to how foods affected us. And we noticed that things digest better when then are cooked. This lightens the load on our digestive system and then we can just serve as the filters - send the good stuff to the tissues, the bad stuff to the tissue paper.

Remember, balance and moderation are the keys to good health. So I am not recommending that you never have anything cold or raw. Just that the majority of your food should be slightly cooked. However you change your diet or lifestyle, you should do slow slowely and gently. That's how it'll be sustainable. Read more about healthy eating in my book "The Asian Diet: Simple secrets for eating right, losing weight, and being well."