Mayo Clinic Complementary and Alternative Medicine Conference

7/11/2013

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Last weekend I attended the Mayo Clinic Complementary and Alternative Medicine Conference. Along with about 29 other major medical centers that include Harvard, Yale, Duke, Cleveland Clinic and Georgetown, Mayo has a department dedicated to Integrative Medicine. A broad range of topics were presented at the conference including Integrative Medicine for Women’s Health, chronic pain, headaches and weight loss. There were sessions on acupuncture, Taiji, Qigong, and Laughter, as well as updates on nutritional supplements and hormone replacement . Although I would like to share all of the conference information with you, I have put just a few facts in the “We already kind of knew that but it’s nice to be reminded category and a “Really? category. The goal of the Mayo physicians was to present e research based information.

“We already kind of knew that” category:

1. Acupuncture has been shown to decrease dysmenorrhoea.

2. Tai Chi improves balance and decreases falls in the elderly.

3. Flaxseed and fish oil lower triglycerides.

4. Probiotics can positively impact gut health

5. The Mediterranean Diet (olive oil, whole grains, fruits and vegetables) can result in a 75% less chance of death over the first 5 years after a myocardial infarction.

 “Really?” category:

1. Metformin (a type II diabetes drug) “results in vitamin B12 deficiency in 30% of patients.” This was of interest to me because many of my infertility patients with PCOS symptoms have been put on metformin by their physicians.

2. 90% of women have inadequate intake of folate and vitamin E from food. This has important implications for women in their reproductive years, as it has been well established that folate and its cousin folic acid are key players in healthy formation of the spinal cord in babies.

3. 73% of women do not eat more than three servings of vegetables per day. Five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables (combined) is considered essential to obtain needed nutrients. My opinion is that women struggling with infertility or who are already pregnant need even more.

4. 55% of people do not tell their physicians what supplements they are taking.

5. Patients electing to have “food allergy testing” should know that most of the companies doing expensive testing look at the blood “Igg” response which is not definitive. Measuring “Ige” response is more accurate. Dr. Larry Bergstrom from the Mayo Clinic said people should simple eat a food, “and see how it makes them feel”.

6. In a study done with Topirimate vs. Yoga for migraines, more patients improved with Yoga. Their anxiety and depression scores improved more also.

7. Laughter makes our bodies relax and the effects can last up to 45 minutes.

Although these “take aways” seem to cover many different topics, the conference was indeed broad in scope. As always, I will be discussing more information from the conference with each of my patients, as indicated.

Fruit for Thought

Fruit For Thought

Fruit For Thought

The benefits of eating organic are obvious: fewer toxic chemicals building up in our bodies. It is a fact that we all have pesticides and plastics in our bodies–babies are born with 232 chemicals in their umbilical cord blood. But the question is how many chemicals can we tolerate before they affect our health.

A recent study  showed that fruit flies who dined on organic bananas and  potatoes were much more fertile, and lived longer than their unlucky cousins who were given non-organic foods.

It’s not always easy to buy organic–it is often more expensive and your nearest grocery store may not stock a lot of items, and one study indicated that organic fruits and vegetable are not necessarily higher in nutrients. However,even though I would like any fruit flies in my kitchen to die young and have few offspring, this study inspires me to think about how vigilant I want to be about buying organic.

Recipe for Best Purple Food You Will Ever Eat!

Best Purple Food You Will Ever Eat !

Purple Glutinous Rice Pudding

(Khao Neow Dum Ptag)

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Similar to the Western Rice Pudding this is a Thai dessert that is very nourishing. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, rice congees are prepared for people when they are recovering from an illness. It is also used to nourish a new mother after she has given birth. Congees are basically overcooked, soupy rice that nourishes because the overcooking of the rice makes it easily digested. Although Thai in origin, this  pudding is similar to a congee.
1 cup purple glutinous rice (not black rice). Ingredients:

Can be found at Asian grocery stores and Larry’s Brown Deer Market.

6 cups water

1/2 cup palm sugar

2 cups coconut milk

 

Reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook for 45 minutes, until rice is very soft and soupy. Stir occasionally.

 

Topping:

1/2 cup coconut cream

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup palm sugar

(I sometimes skip making the topping and top with fresh mangoes)

 

Rinse and drain rice. Place rice in medium saucepan, add water, and heat to boiling.

Add the palm sugar and coconut milk. Stir well and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Combine topping ingredients and pour a small amount over each serving.

Serves 4

Note: Use of Palm Sugar is important. When I have substituted regular white sugar, it does not have the same flavor. An added advantage of palm sugar is tht it has a low glycemic index, meaning it will keep your blood sugar and insulin more even.

 

 

YUK

gatoradeMy patients have heard me say that it is OK to count all liquids when assessing whether they have reached a good intake for the day. HOWEVER, if they walk in with a brightly colored “Power Drink”, they will have points deducted and will  get a mini-lecture.

Drinks such as Powerade and some citrus drinks made by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group contain brominated vegetable oil, which is used to keep the fruit flavor evenly distributed in the drink.  Known as “BVO”, it is also used as a flame retardant, in upholstery fabric, and in children’s products. BVO builds up in our tissues and some human studies have linked high levels to neurological impairment, reduced fertility, thyroid changes, and early puberty.

Approximately 10,000 chemicals are used in prepared foods, and only about 3,000 of them have FDA approval. This is because there is a law allowing the FDA to allow use of a chemical based on data from a company’s own “expert”. Brominated vegetable oil is one of the chemicals that lacks adequate testing and is not approved by the FDA. Europe and Japan have banned it already banned its use. So be your own FDA (Fertility Drug Assessor !) and read the labels of your drinks. And since they also contain artificial coloring and often come in plastic bottles, you should pass on them anyway !

Mindful Meditation: Why and How

Mindful meditation, or mindful breathing, is a method for inducing the relaxation response. This relaxation response brings balance and healing to our body by putting the brakes on the sympathetic nervous system — which is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. In the “fight or flight” response, blood pressure and heart rate go up, muscles tense, breathing becomes rapid, and cortisol, or the “stress hormone,” is released from the adrenal gland. During mindful breathing, the parasympathetic system takes over, resulting in muscle relaxation, slower breathing, lower heart rate and blood pressure. This phenomenon has been documented by researchers using brain MRI technology at major medical centers such as Harvard and the University of Wisconsin. Researchers have also noted that levels of nitric oxide in our blood return to healthy levels during mindful breathing exercises. Healthy levels of nitric oxide are associated with  many important body functions, including maintaining healthy blood vessels.

One of the benefits of mindful breathing for women’s health is that it lowers cortisol levels. When levels of cortisol are too high, the system can block the uptake of estrogen. This can lead to hormonal imbalances.

There are many types of meditation, and they are all good. The type I practice and teach to my patients is summarized below.

1. Find a comfortable seated position. Close your eyes, or leave them in a soft gaze.

2. Breathe in through the nose, then out through the nose. Use a pace and deepness that is comfortable for you.

3. Bring your attention and focus to the breath. Focus on the sound of the breath, and the feel of the breath in your nose. Imagine the air going into your lungs, and then out of your lungs.

4. When you find your mind wandering to other thoughts (as it will), just go back to thinking about the breath. Do this as many times as you need to.

5. Do not judge or criticize yourself if you find yourself off in a thought, just let the thought float out, and then bring it back to the breath.

6. At first, practice this for 10 minutes a day. Try to work up to 20 minutes a day on your own schedule.

Remember, it is called a “meditation practice” because it does indeed take practice to do it well — just like playing a sport or learning an instrument. If you would like to find more information on centers where you can learn more about mindfulness meditation, feel free to contact me at [email protected]

Visit my acupuncture website for more information.