Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Massachusetts Bill to Mandate Acupuncture Coverage

Most all of us can agree we have been operating under the model of disease care, not health care, for the past several decades.  Prevention is the best medicine and acupuncture is one of several modalities that help individualizes make lifestyle choices to benefit their health and well-being. While passing national legislation as proposed in HD 1593 would be a boon to my practice (I would have to hire someone to run the office - yeah, an excuse for an annual Christmas party!),  mandating coverage for procedures not commonly used by the majority of the people bothers me on a personal (and self-insured) level.  Since KY is still fighting for "license" instead of "certification" and none of the large insurance companies will accept acupuncturists directly into their network, I do not see this state leaping on the bandwagon without an angel lobbyist trumpeting the cause. The argument is pretty compelling, in any event:

Acupuncture Insurance Legislation
● Under Massachusetts’ mandated universal healthcare and insurance system very few insurers
cover acupuncture services.
● Bill HD 1593 makes acupuncture services accessible to all families in every income bracket.
● Bill HD 1593 requires that all individual or group accident or health insurance policies, issued
by an insurer or non-profit health service corporation, provide benefits for services rendered by a
licensed acupuncturist in the state of Massachusetts.
● The consumer should have equal choice among all professionals licensed to practice acupuncture.
Acupuncture Training:
● Acupuncturists licensed in Massachusetts are regulated by the Board of Medicine .
Acupuncturists take a minimum of 2050 hours of training in acupuncture in addition to required
basic science and western biomedical courses. This is the equivalent of 3 to 4 years of study to
achieve an entry level degree of Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Cost-effectiveness of Acupuncture:
● According to a study in Washington state, the addition of mandated insurance coverage for
acupuncture and other complementary medicine did not significantly escalate healthcare costs.
● Costs actually decreased for acupuncture and complementary medicine users in high disease
burden groups due to a reduction of more expensive conventional care.
● The carpal tunnel syndrome study by Naeser et al. 2002 showed a significant cost savings with
the use of acupuncture compared to conventional treatment. A case of CTS medically treated
without surgery costs $5246 compared to $1000 for 15 laser acupuncture treatments at $65 per
treatment. This represents a saving of $4246 per patient with acupuncture treatment. The cost for
CTS surgery was $21,000 per patient and some patients were able to avoid surgery with 15 laser
acupuncture treatments totaling $1000.

Clinical Efficacy:
● In 1997 the NIH approved acupuncture as an adjunctive treatment for several conditions
including pain, nausea,asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome and paralysis from stroke.
● Over 500 positive clinical trials, measuring the efficacy of acupuncture, have been conducted in
the past three decades.
● There are 50 systematic reviews of acupuncture in the Cochrane databases. Overall, the trend has
been favorable, advocating the use of acupuncture in a clinical setting as an adjunct treatment
with conventional therapies, where suitable (Witt et al. 2006).
● Positive studies include acupuncture treatment for low back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis of the
knee and hip, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, TMJ, headaches, infertility, pain and nausea in
cancer patients.

Safety of Acupuncture:
● Acupuncture is a safe and cost-effective form of medicine that has been practiced and refined for
more than 2500 years. Acupuncture uses ultra-thin needles to balance and increase energy and
stimulate the nervous system to release brain chemicals for relaxation and well being.
● As of 2008 the Committee on Acupuncture shows 679 acupuncturists licensed in Massachusetts.
● From 2004-2008 the total number of complaints lodged against acupuncturists in Massachusetts
numbered 14, with 2 of those leading to disciplinary action and 2 to denial of license. This
reflects the general safety of the practice of acupuncture and this is true nationwide as well.
● Studies in Europe and Japan showed that less than 0.2% of all individuals treated with
acupuncture experienced adverse effects.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spring Cleanse

I just encountered a press release selling a Chinese Medicine-Based 21-day Cleanse developed by an acupuncturist, Reiki practitioner, yoga instructor, feng shui expert, and behavioral neuroscience something-or-other.  Off the top of my head, there are half-a-dozen excellent Chinese Medicine diet books on the market that contain guidelines for cleanses - most notably The Tao of Healthy Eating and Healing with Whole Foods. Perhaps this program offers something new and revolutionary and  am not going to knock it unless I try it. In the meantime, here are the instructions to a similar cleanse program I give to my clients for a lovely 3-day spring detox.

Why Cleanse? Clearing your schedule for a cleanse allows you to watch, moment to moment, the cause and effect of food and lifestyle choices that often remain unnoticed. It also provides a time for reflection and fresh insights into how diet and lifestyle habits are serving to support or undermine our health.

5 Herbs for Cleansing

* Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), known for centuries as a liver cleanser, has been clinically shown to increase levels of glutathione, the amino-acid compound that's necessary for toxin removal.

* Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) supports the liver, the adrenals, and the immune system. It also acts as a gentle laxative. Licorice may not be appropriate for patients with high blood pressure, so consult your doctor before using it if you are at risk.

* Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) stimulates the gallbladder, the kidneys, and the liver.

* Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis), a Chinese tonic herb, is a multitasker. "It's an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, and a liver protector. Talk to your doctor if you have high blood pressure.

* Burdock (Arctium lappa), helps protect the liver and clears toxins that lead to skin eruptions like eczema and acne.

7 Detox Foods These foods harbor healing promise for those looking to detox--and they're safe to consume every day. Apples and grapes are high in fiber to cleanse the colon. The pectin present in apples helps detoxify the gut, while the phytonutrients in grapes support the immune system, which in turn addresses toxins in the body. Artichokes are a source of antioxidants and liver-supporting cynarin. Artichoke not only cleanses this organ, but also helps convert the inactive T4 thyroid hormone to an active T3, which helps to increase metabolism and weight loss. Artichoke also helps the liver decongest fats. Cranberries kill bacteria in the urinary tract and contain digestive enzymes that cleanse the lymphatic system. Leafy greens like chard, kale, spinach, dandelions, chickweed, and salad leaves not only are among the most nutrient-rich vegetables, they help purify the GI tract. Lemons contain antioxidant, antiseptic, and cleansing substances. Once ingested, lemon's alkaline effect helps counter excess acid, while its high vitamin-C content bolsters the immune system. Whey, a milk protein that's rich in amino acids, offers immune-system and bone support. Research has shown it also helps the body produce more glutathione, facilitating toxin removal.

The following is a recipe for a basic cleanse; you can follow it exactly or adjust it to meet your personal needs. It calls for a light diet, herbs to support organ function, and beneficial yoga poses. This cleanse provides the benefits of fasting without the hardships. When toxins are released from fat reserves during a fast, the body has insufficient nutrient support to rid itself of toxins. This may result in headache, fatigue, and other problems, so anyone tempted to fast should consult a physician.

As you cleanse your inner dwelling, take time to purge your outer environment as well. Do you slather yourself with lotion containing artificial colors? Fill your shopping cart with only non-organic foods? Bit by bit, you can lessen your body's toxic load, leaving more energy for battling factors you can't control.

We are creatures of habit, and can get into familiar patterns of eating, moving, resting, thinking, and feeling that aren't necessarily optimal. Spring cleansing challenges those bad habits and sets a standard for a healthier lifestyle.

8 ounces filtered water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoons maple syrup
Dash cayenne pepper powder/concentrate 

2 teaspoons green superfood
1 ounce unsweetened cranberry juice
8 ounces water
Three Day Cleanse
Drink plenty of filtered water each day, take a multivitamin, and allow time for extra sleep. Each day include 8 ounces of lean protein, fresh or steamed vegetables, and 4 servings of fruit, including 2 organic apples for fiber.

Morning: Drink 8 ounces each of Master cleanser and Cranberry Elixir. Take one tablespoon of cod liver oil and/or Omega complex oil, and 50 drops Schisandra tincture.                                                  
Yoga Pose: Cobra pose Lie on your stomach with legs outstretched. Place your palms on the floor near your rib cage. Inhale as you press your hands into the floor and lift your chest, keeping your hips anchored on the floor and pressing down with your pubic bone. Hold for 3 to 5 smooth breaths, then lower to the floor. Repeat 3 times. Cobra Pose puts pressure on the abdomen, assisting elimination. 
Afternoon: Take 2 packets of whey protein, 2 heaping teaspoons of ground milk thistle seed, and 1 cup of dandelion tea.                               
Clean up your environment. Swap your household glass cleaner, bathroom scrub, and floor wax for natural alternatives from the health-food store. Or save money by making your own greener cleaners with natural ingredients such as vinegar and borax.   
Evening: Drink 8 ounces of Cranberry Elixir., one tablespoon of organic flaxseed oil, and 50 drops of schisandra tincture.                        
Yoga Pose: Corpse: Lie on your back, feet and arms extended and comfortably relaxed. Let your weight sink into the floor, and relax everywhere. This pose keeps bringing attention back to the sensations of the body, so we get glimpses of where we're holding tension. Releasing nervous, mental, and emotional stress is of utmost importance when we cleanse.  

Morning: Repeat day one routine. Yoga Pose: Lying Twist. Lie on your back, your arms stretched out to the sides, in line with your shoulders. Bring your knees to your chest. Slowly let both knees fall to your left side; turn your neck and look to the right. Breathe for a few moments, then return your knees to center and repeat on the opposite side. Twists massage the internal organs, encouraging sound digestion, improving circulation, and helping to detoxify the organs.  
Afternoon: Repeat day one routine.  Commit to whole foods. Start with one or two packaged foods you consume most, or those most likely to be contaminated with pesticides (peaches, strawberries, apples, spinach, nectarines, celery, pears, cherries, potatoes, and sweet bell peppers).  
Evening: Repeat day one routine and Corpse Pose. 

Morning: Repeat day one routine.  Yoga Pose: Seated Forward Fold. Sit with your legs crossed, back straight. Slowly lean forward, relaxing your neck, shoulders, and spine into a  rounded position. Remain folded for 5 to 10 smooth breaths, rise up, switch the cross of your legs, and repeat. Forward folds put pressure on the legs, triggering the liver, gallbladder, and lymph channels and promoting proper elimination patterns  
Afternoon: Repeat day one routine. Reassess your beauty routine. Pick one or two products to swap for natural options. Start by assessing your skin cream, since the ingredients end up in your bloodstream.   
Evening: Repeat day one routine and Corpse Pose.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Jing Office News

Since April showers brought May . . . . showers, it seemed the perfect time to rearrange the office for a fresh perspective. We are excited about the new layout, upcoming extra touches, and expansion of hours and products. A quick reminder that Jing will be closed next week while I am in Memphis finishing up my doctoral work for this semester. It is going to be a great Summer!