Welcome to Acupuncture and Herbs by Karen Vaughan, L.Ac., Registered Herbalist (AHG)
Karen VaughanKaren Vaughan Acupuncture and Herbs253 Garfield Pl Apt 1RBrooklyn
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I have been concerned about electromagnetic radiation for some time, long before the cell towers and cordless phones invaded our lives. I live in an old house with unshielded wiring. I have been using MRET technology and tubular cell phone headsets to shield my family and clients.
I’ve been in California this week and after kayaking, fellow acupuncturist Bob Linde noticed that the guide was suffering from back pain and put zaccaria seeds in her ear on the auricular points dealing with back pain. She felt changes immediately and claimed it was the best tip she’d received yet.
As someone who was around in the ’50s and ’60s when there was less obesity, I have to tell you that diets were not that good. TV dinners, Wonder bread, instant mashed potatoes, fish-sticks and whole milk predominated and vegetables tended towards the overcooked. Food was cooked in Crisco, full of trans fats, and cotton seed oils. Fresh vegetables came in during the late 60s, but predominated on the coasts. There was less soda and no high fructose corn syrup, and portion sizes were somewhat smaller, but the caloric difference may not be enough to explain why we have an epidemic of infant obesity today that we didn’t then. And I doubt that the babies today are doing any less exercise, although their older siblings may be indoors on computers more instead of riding bikes. Continue reading…
This is fresh fig season, and it is a good idea to spend a week, and a baker’s dozen of figs to protect your breasts from lumps. Poulticing the breasts with fresh figs can make a dramatic Continue reading…
Hypertension is a silent disease which can be lethal. An estimated 60 million Americans suffer from the disease. It causes strokes, heart attacks,heart failure, kidney disease, arterial aneurysm and varicosities, headaches, vision problems and has many secondary effects.
In 90-95% of high blood pressure, the American Heart Association says there is no one identifiable cause. This kind of high blood pressure is called primary hypertension or essential hypertension. It is usually a combination of factors, such as: Continue reading…
T. Colin Campbell came out with his book, The China Study which purports to be the most comprehensive study of diet and disease. However Campbell is so intent on promoting a vegan data that he misrepresents the data in the real China Study and cherry picks anti-animal food data. The book distorts the data generated by Junshi Chen in Mortality, Biochemistry, Diet and Lifestyle in Rural China and in no way supports Campbell’s subtitle “The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health” or his thesis that a vegan diet is superior. Continue reading…
In the 1920s, when electricity was not nearly as prevalent (but sources of artificial light were common), Americans were surveyed on sleep habits. The average American slept 9 hours a night, which meant that many slept more. Today the average American is believed to sleep 6 1/2 hours a night. We have not biologically evolved to need less sleep.
There are many types of insomnia: trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, waking too early and sleeping at too superficial a level. People with sleep apnea may believe they sleep like a log, but they have hundreds of micro-awakenings from not being able to breathe, which send their adrenals into fight or flight mode and which leave them exhausted throughout the day. Sleep problems can be occasional, transitory (for short periods of time) or chronic. But the problem I see the most in practice is that people aren’t spending enough time in bed.
Why is this a problem? In a nutshell, it makes you fat, stupid and sick. Continue reading…
Several studies in different parts of the world have shown that there is a benefit to a baby when the mother takes Vitamin D in excess of the amount in prenatal vitamins. This shows that there is a benefit to pregnant mothers in reducing the complications of pregnancy. While the study only looked at a fairly low dose of Vitamin D, probably from cod liver oil and diet, it indicates that supplementation reduced pre-eclampsia by 25%. Based upon Finish studies, I wonder how much less pre-eclampsia would be found if blood levels were raised to 50. Continue reading…
It looks like last year’s rather mild flu may turn more virulent this season. It already is killing large numbers of people in unusual ways, especially those of Asian or Native American descent. The most vulnerable seem to be not the aged or the young, but healthy young adults. And it has killed people during the summer, a time when influenza deaths are all but unheard of. The 1918 flu pandemic which killed millions worldwide started out mild too.
If the flu acts like the 1918 pandemic, it will cause a cytokine storm, where your immune system can overreact, rapidly killing you. In cases like this you do not want to use immune system stimulants like echinacea. You are better off with Vitamin D and immune modulators which will not hype up your system if you don’t need it. Continue reading…
The application of biofilm science to the study and control of chronic bacterial infections William Costerton, Richard Veeh, Mark Shirtliff, Mark Pasmore, Christopher Post, Garth Ehrlich Published in Volume 112, Issue 10 J Clin Invest. 2003; 112(10):1466–1477 doi:10.1172/JCI20365
Anyone who has felt plaque on their teeth, seen films at the edge of a pond, found thick slimy glop when cleaning out a sink or fountain or suffered a respiratory infection has come into contact with biofilms. When certain bacteria are in wet environments, they attach and send out signals to attract other bacteria called “quorum sensing” molecules. When the other bacteria start congregating, they start differentiating into bacteria that attach, that transport nutrients, that digest, that form protective films or crusts, adjust resistance and become far more formidable than any bacterium alone. The biofilms are made of the bacteria, the water and the proteins, sugars and DNA that the bacteria exude.
Source: The Antibiotic Paradox (Stuart B. Levy, M.D.)
For instance, when you get a respiratory virus, your bronchi are moist sites for bacterial complications. When a bacteria lands, it calls others and makes a biofilm that blocks oxygen intake, causing you to cough. The biofilm protects the most interior bacteria. When you take antibiotics, the surface bacteria adapt by taking in samples of the antibiotics, “tasting” them with tiny efflux pumps and figuring out how to adapt. They communicate this information to other bacteria in the biofilm. This is how bacteria get resistant to the antibiotics. They are even able to recombine with dead bacteria from other diseases to learn chemically how to protect themselves. This is why our antibiotics have become less effective and why we have resistant “superbacteria”.
Bacteria take on different functions.
There are herbs that being weaker than antibiotics, sneak in under the radar of the bacteria and disable their efflux pumps, which is why you ought to take those herbs together with antibiotics. This is a direct attack on bacterial resistance. But new biosignal technology based on plant compounds called furanones disrupts the biofilm in different ways.
Biosignal technology prevents or disrupts resistant biofilms without killing bacteria. Instead it blocks the quorum sensing molecules that allow the bacteria to congregate and other signaling molecules that affect virulence and resistance. This approach to bacterial control is aimed at delivering treatment while sidestepping bacterial resistance.
There is a red seaweed, Delisea pulchra, that is not colonized by bacterial films, unlike most. This is used by the Australian firm Biosignals which has synthesized the chemicals and uses them for medical equipment and contact lenses. The scientists found that the seaweed was rarely covered in bacterial biofilm colonies. They established that the seaweed uses natural chemicals, furanones, to keep it free of biofilms. The furanones jam cell-to-cell signaling systems that are pivotal to the ability of bacteria to form and maintain biofilms.
Delisea japonica may contain biofilm-inhibiting substances. http://www.biol.tsukuba.ac.jp/~inouye/ino/r/Nemaliales.html
Preventing bacterial communication suggests that furanones may be effective against a wide range of bacteria. In vitro studies have found that many furanones are useful against cholera, penumonia, cystic fibrosis-related infections, food poisoning, golden staph infections and tuberculosis. Some of these bacteria have become resistant to current antibiotics. Now, in vitro studies bathe the bacteria in a solution with the furanones, which is not the way your body works, so there isn’t direct oral administration evidence yet. More research needs to be done.
Furanones are found in a variety of herbs. Andrographis, for instance, and members of the parsley family. There may be other seaweeds that have not been identified. A colleague who is studying biofilms suggested putting vanillin into my fountain to stop the biofilm formation and it has probably slowed it down (as well as making the waiting room smell like vanilla.)
The class of furanones is large enough however that we should first look at the traditional uses of the plants, rather than looking first for constituents in the plants. The traditional use has thousands of years of trial and error, while new drugs are unproven in the long term.
Not all biofilms are bad. The probiotic bacteria that forms a living wallpaper along your gut, protecting you from disease, heavy metals and allergens, is one you want. The appendix stores a biofilm of probiotic bacteria in its cul de sac, to protect the body from potential pathogens in the GI tract that might wipe them out. It allows us to be re-colonized by our symbionts. We have good bacteria, most likely in thin films all over out bodies.
The appendix is a reservoir of microbiota. Source: NY Times Illustration by Bryan Christie Design
We evolved as clusters of bacteria, which differentiated into a superstructure housing lots of partially incorporated microorganisms like mitochondria and independent microorganisms like the lactobacilli in our gut. We do need to be sure that strategies we use in preventing disease will not disrupt our own biological processes.
As those of you who read my blog are aware, I am not a big fan of statins. The first reason is that cholesterol is not really the problem. The second is that statins depress the body’s own anti-inflammatory compound CoQ10. But recent research shows that, against our logical assumptions, Vitamin D levels may rise when statins are taken. Continue reading…
In most states a medical doctor can practice what is called “Medical Acupuncture” with a couple of hundred hours in a video course. And in others, Chiropractors and sometimes Podiatrists can practice with a 300 hour course. Compare this to the at least 1250 hour training with clinical practice and continuing education of a real Licensed Acupuncturist. Most real acupuncturists study considerably more: my Masters in Oriental Medicine took 4500 hours postgraduate and I have continuing education requirements that an MD or Chiropractor who needles does not. In some states a MD can practice “acupuncture” with no educational requirement!
As a heavy person, I often find that places which measure blood pressure do not use the proper cuff size. Using too small a cuff will show hypertension, where none exists. Given the obesity epidemic, this can be a serious problem. Many overweight people have hypotension, which may interfere with their exercise, it is important that they be measured carefully, especially when medication is involved. And this is also very important during pregnancy when fluids can cause swelling but do not always raise blood pressure or cause pre-eclampsia.
Here is a piece written by a colleague who shall remain anonymous:
I can tell you that a frightening number of practitioners do not use protocol as stated. It Continue reading…
I am an herbalist, and that is where I turn first, in most cases. But Vitamin D is an exception. It is a hormone used by most of our cells in over 2000 functions,. As humans ranged north of the African savannah where we evolved and started wearing more clothing, we started lowering our D levels.
Vitamin D has the ability to kill off bacteria and that property has been so important that we have retained that property as primates for over 60 million years
Vitamin D also prevents the over stimulation of our immune system which could cause it to attack ourselves. This is important for the Swine Flu which can be dangerous if there is an excessive inflammatory response, called a cytokine storm.
Most deaths in the 1918 flu pandemic and more recently from SARS, happened when young healthy people who had a strong immune response provoked a cytokine storm which allowed an excessive response that quickly killed them off. We speculate that with higher levels of Vitamin D, the regulatory function that caused the excessive inflammation might not have occurred.
This article tells how the process works, but the takeaway is to keep your Vitamin D levels high (blood level around 60) which may require 10,000 iu or more daily and if you get the flu increase it. Continue reading…
Richard Wrangham a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard and the author of “Catching
Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human” was interviewed on NPR. He worked with Jane Goodall, and is director of the Kibale Chimpanzee Project in Uganda. According to Wrangham, great apes prefer cooked food to raw food or they have no preference. They prefer cooked meat to the raw meat that they occasionally form hunting parties to obtain, but are hampered by not controlling fire. Great apes, when given a choice, never prefer raw food to cooked food. Chimps will go into areas of wildfires and eat foods that they would never eat raw. Meat (at least wild meat) is tough when raw, but is much more easily assimilated when cooked.
Cooked food increases the proportion of nutrients that you actually digest. This was not widely appreciated for many years because scientists sampled the food going into the mouth then compared it to fecal output. But fecal digestibility does not really look at assimilation. We can only assimilate proteins in the small intestine, not the large intestine.
While I used to think otherwise, I firmly believe that nursing mothers should supplement both themselves and their babies with Vitamin D. The exceptions to this are mothers who live south of Atlanta, who together with their babies are out of doors without sunscreen between 11:00 am and 1:00pm and who don’t use soap when they wash (because it washes away the D2 oil involved in the process of making D3.) We used to have government programs to encourage parents to take children out into the sun. See this informative and entertaining video from UCSD.
In Finland, babies were routinely given cod liver oil providing 4500 iu of D (and modern cod liver oil is NOT recommended for it due to lower D/A ratios). Then, since research showed that rickets could be prevented at 400 iu, the recommended daily amount was lowered. As a result, Type 1 Diabetes skyrocketed. We have very good data showing that 90% of Type 1 Childhood Diabetes can be eliminated by Vitamin D supplementation.
How do you get enough Vitamin D from the sun? If you can fulfill the following, you might get enough:
You live south of Atlanta in the winter.
You are in the sun from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.
Your body is mostly uncovered.
You go without sunscreen for at least 15-20 minutes.
You don’t use soap for 48 hours.
You repeat the process in 72 hours.
Your skin is not dark, either from genetics or suntanning. (You may need six times as much exposure if your skin is dark.)
Unless you fit all of these conditions, you need to supplement. And a multi-vitamin or calcium plus D supplement will NOT have enough Vitamin D, nor will your milk. You need to supplement with high iu Vitamin D3, preferably above 4000 iu. If your blood 25 hydroxy D test is below 70 (ignore “high”, “medium” and “low” because that is based on the averages of a D-deficient population,) then supplement it. The exception is if you have scleroderma or similar abnormal calcium metabolism.
Other ways to supplement: frequent consumption of liver, preferably from organic animals. Shitake or other mushrooms dried gill side up in the sun on a daily dose of about one ounce dry weight, cooked long and low.
Calculations from studies on Vitamin D show that, for every person who dies of skin cancer from UV overexposure, more than two hundred will die from other cancers, like lung, breast, prostate and colon, as a result of low vitamin D levels.
This study only looks at one mechanism, but it is quite interesting, and found that Chinese herbal patents (OTC herbal formulas, confusingly referred to as “TCMs”) helped produce nitric oxide to widen blood vessels. All of the herbal patents tested reveal nitric oxide bioactivity. Many of the TCM extracts contain a nitrite reductase activity greater by 1000 times that of biological tissues.
Scientists help explain effects of ancient Chinese herbal formulas on heart health
New research at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston suggests that ancient Chinese herbal formulas used primarily for cardiovascular indications including heart disease may produce large amounts of artery-widening nitric oxide. Findings of the preclinical study by scientists in the university’s Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases (IMM) appear in the Sept. 15 print issue of the journal Free Radical Biology & Medicine. Continue reading…
I got a phone call this morning from a woman who had been bitten by an insect and was swelling up. Fortunately I had a picture of broad leaf plantain on my website so was able to tell her how to make a spit poultice to draw it out.
Broadleaf plantain -Plantago major
I first learned about plantain poultices when Wisconsin ethnobotanist and Anishinaabeg medicine woman Keewaydinoquay Peschel during her last trip to the east coast. She had used plantain to draw out all kinds of things from insect bites to glass during her years as tribal medicine woman. One year she was lecturing to her class on plantain while a student’s visiting mother sat in on the class. Three years later a package arrived for her from Florida, a thank-you gift from the student’s mother. It seems that the woman and two friends were gardening in Florida and had been bitten by a spider. They didn’t think too much of it, insect bites being fairly common, but on her way home she saw some plantain growing, remembered the lecture and made a spit poultice to draw out the venom. The next morning her friends were dead and she was well. Continue reading…
This study is quite important because it explains one way that acupuncture works to regulate pain at a cellular level. While those of us who have experienced acupuncture need no proof that it works for pain, it is still useful to have a mainstream university explaining the mechanism for doctors and (dare I say it) insurance companies who restrict coverage to one or two codes.
Pain is regulated in a variety of ways by acupuncture. Like all medicine there is the reassuring placebo effect. But gate theory explains how the presence of a little pain drives out great pain which is why lancing or electrostimulation works. And when a needle is inserted, blood rushes to the site with all of its hormones and immunological constituents. Here is one other way acupuncture helps:
1. Pasture raised or wild meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and any natural animal fat
2. Vegetables, including leaves, stems, bulbs, roots
3. Fruits and berries (includes avocados and olives)
4. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, coconut, etc.
5. Herbs and spices
(in order of importance)
1. Sweeteners, including sugar (white, brown, organic, whatever), maple syrup, rice or agave syrup, etc.
2. Vegetable oils other than extra virgin olive, avocado, palm, and coconut.
3. Cereal grains and flour or grain products (bread, pasta, pastries, etc.) Especially avoid glutinous grains like wheat, barley, rye or triticale.
4. Dry legumes (beans and peas, including soy and peanuts)
5. Dairy products. If you take them, use goat or raw or both
(thanks to Rachel and Donald Matsez, authors of The Garden of Eating)