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Get Smart About Antibiotics

get-smart-imageIncredible, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that approximately 50% of antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily. Why should we be concerned? According to the CDC, “Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.”

In response the CDC launched a program to educate doctors and the public about the problem, which especially affects kids. “Get Smart: Know When to Use Antibiotics” is a website that helps you evaluate whether you might have a health issue caused by bacteria (antibiotics sometimes necessary so see your doctor), or a virus (antibiotics are not effective). “Get Smart” provides lots of great tips on self-care, such as rest, fluids, pain-relievers and humidifier use for a common cold, for example.

We need to think twice before asking our doctors for antibiotics for upper respiratory infections such as colds, flu, sore throat, cough, earache, and clogged sinuses – most of which are viral. A responsible doctor will rarely write a prescription without an office visit and physical exam. If you do go home empty-handed, don’t worry. Chinese herbal medicine offers many alternatives to antibiotics, such as the herbs isatis, honeysuckle, coptis and forsythia – to name a few. Under the care of a licensed acupuncturist, these herbs can replace antibiotics in certain cases, while also benefiting the immune system. While we can never replace the incredible role that antibiotics have in our world, we definitely need to get a lot smarter in their use.

Top 5 "Bad Excuses" for Avoiding Acupuncture

5 Reasons People Avoid Acupuncture

5 Reasons People Avoid Acupuncture

Curious about acupuncture but just can’t seem to schedule that first appointment? AcuTake, an online publication created to improve acupuncture education and access, has written an informative article that lists (and debunks) these top five excuses that some newbies to acupuncture give for avoiding treatment.

Afraid of needles? Think the sessions are too expensive? Can’t find the time, don’t know who to go to, or don’t “believe” in it? Read their article to get the full scoop on why these five excuses just aren’t good enough anymore!

Acupuncture is great for pain relief, restful sleep, good digestion, better immunity and more. So go ahead and schedule a session — next thing you know you’ll be encouraging your co-workers, friends and family members to jump on the acupuncture bandwagon.

8 Simple Steps to 8 Hours of Sleep

Did you know that the most common symptom of stress is insomnia? Did you also know that people who sleep fewer than seven hours a night are three times more likely to get a cold?

By sleeping longer and more deeply we can protect our health. But how do you do this if you suffer from insomnia? Sleep therapists long ago developed “sleep hygiene,” also known as good sleep habits. I’ve adapted the rules of sleep hygiene into the following eight simple steps to help you get better ZZZZ’s:

(1) Sleep in a cooler room. As night falls and body temperature drops, the brain slows down and drowsiness sets in. Turning down the thermostat can facilitate that.

(2) Make your room completely dark. Cover up all LED lights (even tiny ones) on alarm clocks and any other electronic equipment. If it’s still not dark enough, buy some classic eyeshades available at most drugstores. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, the hormone that signals the body to sleep. Even small amounts of light decrease melatonin production and signal the body to awaken.

(3) Don’t fall asleep to the TV or iPad screen (too stimulating); even better, move all gadgets out of the bedroom.

(4) Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends.

(5) Avoid alcohol and heavy meals at least 3 hours before bedtime.

(6) Exercise regularly but not within 2 hours of retiring. It may take 2-4 months of regular exercise for you to start sleeping longer and more deeply, and better sleep will then help your exercise routines. (See “How Exercise Can Help Us Sleep Better”, NYTimes, 8/21/13.)

(7) Establish a pre-sleep ritual such as a bath, meditation or reading.

(8) Avoid sleeping pills. The so-called Z drugs (Ambien, Sonata and Lunesta) only increase total sleep time by 28 minutes compared to a placebo, according to a 2005 NIH study. They may be habit-forming, cause next-day drowsiness and memory loss, and mask the fact that your underlying cause of sleeplessness could be depression, anxiey or simply poor sleep hygiene.

Of course, acupuncture is well-known as a beneficial treatment for short- and long-term insomnia, and Chinese herbs such as suan zao ren (Zizyphus) are natural and safe alternatives to prescription sleeping pills.

Cold Hands, Warm Heart: How to Deal with Raynaud’s

Some people suffer from severe cold hands or feet caused by blood vessel spasms, termed Raynaud’s syndrome. In this painful but common condition affecting mostly women during episodes of stress and cold weather, the hands turn white at first. As they become deprived of oxygen, they turn blue and numb, then flush red when the vessels again relax.

Acupuncture helps people with Raynaud’s: In one study, acupuncture reduced attacks by 63% (Journal of Internal Medicine, 1997). Certain Chinese herbal formulas containing cinnamon are also beneficial for circulation, and the following home remedies will help you during an attack:

✔ Swing your arms in circles to force blood vessels to relax and open.

✔ Soak hands and feet in warm (not hot) water while massaging them.

✔ Use microwave hand warmers to get blood flowing. You can easily make your own by filling a sock or cloth bag with dried beans or rice and microwaving it for 30 seconds or until toasty.

[Note: Raynaud's disease is a common and mild disorder, while Raynaud's phenomenon is more rare and indicates a serious underlying problem. Read more about the differences at MayoClinic.com.]

My New Acupuncture Video Now on Vimeo!

Acupuncture therapy is growing rapidly here in the U.S. as a preferred and natural family medicine, but many people may be unaware what exactly an acupuncture treatment looks like.

In my new, two-minute video, I try to put into context Chinese medicine’s approach, the single-use needles, how herbal formulas are prescribed, and what a relaxing therapy acupuncture can be. Please share this video with anyone who might be curious about acupuncture or is looking for a qualified practitioner in L.A.! Thank you.