Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Upcoming Battle

Great, the FDA got board again. I understand the need for regulation, but juice? How do they plan to enforce banning vegetables and stones? And Mr. McGreggor though Peter Rabbit was a nuisance!

The FDA is proposing stricter regulations for herbs, vitamins, vegetable juices and even “devices” such as massage oils, massage rocks, and acupuncture needles under a new guidance document up for review.

According to the document produced by the FDA, use of CAM therapies has risen substantially over the last few years, with one third of adults reporting using some form of CAM in the last year. Interestingly, the docket also reports that visits to CAM practitioners outnumber visits to primary care physicians each year.

The FDA claims that their regulations are simply a “guidance” as to what constitutes regulated CAM items. The CAM community disagrees. They see the defining of regulated items as an attempt to control the use of CAM within the United States—and possibly incorporate CAM devices and medicines into what some refer to as “Big Pharma,” the pharmaceutical industry.

The guidance document essentially defines any item used to treat, mitigate, cure or prevent a disease as regulated by the FDA. This means that if someone claims their vegetable juice helps cure cancer, the FDA then has the right to regulate that vegetable juice as a drug. It also means that if someone is using massage rocks as part of their therapy for a disease or disorder, those massage rocks are regulated as medical devices.

What impact does that have on the CAM practitioner and consumer? If something is regulated by the FDA as a drug or medical device, its use is restricted. People will no longer be able to legally grow or distribute herbs in their garden if those herbs are used for medicinal purposes or administer juice if that juice is said to have health benefits.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Self Acupuncture and the Fractal Body

When I first read the title I thought of one of my former classmates yelling about "recycled qi!" I have done my share of self-treatments and given many lessons to patients on how to use self-acupressure. However, I believe no matter how great of an acupuncturist or massage therapist you are, there is nothing like having it done by a fellow professional.

The title nonwithstanding, Dr. Ye has developed a "fractal needle" system drawing on concepts from the Yellow Emperor's Classic and the use of one-needle treatments. A fractal is a repatative geometric figure within a structure. In acupuncture, you can think of the ear, hands, or feet being a fractal of the whole body. This is a bit on the esoteric side, so for a more complete description with case studies and treatment protocols, visit http://www.positivehealth.com/permit/Articles/Acupuncture/ye62.htm

If it works, it would be an excellent tool for patients who could benefit from more frequent treatments but are unable to afford or schedule them. As a main treatment, however, I am a little skeptical.

Self Acupuncture
Alien Sheng
April 15, 2007

Mention acupuncture and people tend to get images of an ancient Chinese man with a long, white beard and needles. The practice of self acupuncture puts this to rest.

When the idea of writing on the subject of self acupuncture was first considered, it created a feeling of outrage. It would appear that the idea that self acupuncture was possible seemed as idiotic and dangerous as offering a guide to self-brain surgery. It seemed to insult the entire idea of Traditional Chinese Medicine and lump it into a classification with other New Age self help treatments. The theories that provide the foundation for acupuncture are grounded in centuries of experimentation, study, and philosophical contemplation. To think that you could go to Wal-Mart and buy a copy of “Acupuncture for Dummies” was insulting.

This is not really wrong either. Acupuncture is not something that can be done by someone who does not have a great deal of training. On the other hand, it is not really a dangerous thing. If the needles used are at least sterile, and the insertion points are clean, there is not a lot of harm that can be done by an amateur. There is not a lot of good that can be done either.

There is a legitimate form of self acupuncture, however. It was developed a few years ago by a Dr. Zu De Ye while he was at the University of Arizona. It has since spread and is being offered in clinics in several countries. It is founded on a theory known as the “fractal theory.” This theory was developed using the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, but taking some of them a step further. To understand exactly how it works, one must be able to accept the concept that the Universe is made up of parts that are microcosms of the whole.

For example, the human body is a microcosm of the Universe itself. The forces that are at play in the Universe are also at play inside the human body. When the human body is out of harmony with this cosmic oneness, illness occurs. When the body is in harmony, wellness occurs. The fractal theory takes this a step further. Parts of the body can also represent the whole. This idea is behind such things as ear acupuncture where the ear is seen as representing a human form curled into a fetal position. It also appears in Korean Hand acupuncture where all of the points and Meridians of the body are located in the hand.

The fully developed fractal theory has led to the discovery of certain points on the human body that are actually microcosms of entire organ systems. Results can be obtained by stimulation of these points with very small needles. It involves only one needle placed in certain very specific and easily located key points on the body. Dr. Ye’s treatment regime has allowed patients to practice this form of self acupuncture. The needles are small, and the points in safe locations, so the danger is minimal. The advantages of self acupuncture is that no practitioner is needed for the treatments and time and money are saved. Although much more research needs to be done here, there is some indication that the self acupuncture following principles of fractal theory might one day become another tool in the healer’s arsenal.