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.
This is the season of holiday meals and parties, when indigestion raises its ugly head. There are a variety of causes and patterns, so not everyone will fit the same remedies. If you tend to feel excessive heat in your stomach and upward rising energy, go with cooling herbs like peppermint, gentian and artichoke leaf. If your stomach feels cold, unable to mount the fire to digest, Continue reading…
“Blinded by the fruit, we often ignore the full range of a plant’s possibilities. We’re never more than a stone’s throw away from a cup of coffee, yet few of us have ever tasted amertassa or kuti, the green and black equivalents of coffee leaf tea. Or kish’r, the drink made from the coffee cherry itself. Nor have we simply eaten the coffee cherry, which some say has flavors of watermelon and jasmine.”
Endometriosis is a painful condition where the tissue normally inside of the womb, the endometrium, is found in other parts of the body. The endometrial cells build up blood for pregnancy, which is shed during menstruation. However if this tissue is found outside of the womb, it can cause bleeding in areas where blood is not supposed to be shed and it can cause major pain and inflammation. Typically Continue reading…
This is the time of year when we see a lot of sinusitis. There are several causes, and many things that can get rid of the condition.
It helps to understand how sinuses work. The sinuses form a kind of cup that serves to lubricate our respiratory tract. Sinuses work like an overflowing teacup, filling with a thin liquid that moves up with the cillary action of small hair like cells and drips down your nose and throat, lubricating the tissue and providing mucus, potentially a designer antibiotic fluid that can fight off infection, prevent abrasion and protect tissues. The problem comes when the fluid is cooked down and is too thick to flow. This is considered pathological Phlegm in Chinese medicine. The problem isn’t usually that you make too much mucus, it is that the mucus has cooked down and exerts pressure on your sinuses, nasal tract and lungs. Continue reading…
For vets and others in NYC, CRREW run a clinic by donation that treats PTSD with ear acupuncture. It is on the Lower East Side at the University Settlement House, 184 Eldridge Street (corner of Rivington and Eldridge streets) on Wednesdays at 5:40-7:00 in the conference room. The F train Second Avenue stop is closest to University Settlement House.
Wendy Henry and I run the clinic. We have been working through CRREW (Community Relief and Rebuilding through Education and Wellness) since 9/11 using acupuncture and related techniques to help people suffering from PTSD. We have worked on 9/11 rescue workers, Katrina survivors, residents of Lower Manhattan and veterans. CRREW also has worked in Vietnam and Cambodia. Other notable founders and volunteers include Laura Cooley, Marcella Robinson and Rachel Kaplan. All workers have trained at the Lincoln Hospital drug treatment facility in the NADA technique and are licensed acupuncturists.
Vets who want something besides talk therapy are especially welcome. When events are overwhelming physical treatment can sometimes reach you when words are inadequate. One fireman who spent time being treated with us said that we opened him up to the point that he could discuss and deal with the horrors of digging through the pile at 9/11.
In 2008, 14 times as many US veterans died from a lack of health insurance than the US military death toll in Afghanistan the same year. Even with the VA, 1.5 million veterans lack access to health care. We all need to reach out to veterans in need.
CRREW has been running auricular acupuncture clinics and events since 9/11, working with residents and rescue workers. We extend the invitation to vets who are finding the transition to civilian life to be difficult.
A recent report report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy indicates that 25% of hospitalized H1N1 victims in a California study were morbidly obese versus 4% of the US population and more than half were obese. It did not collect data on whether the heavy patients had other underlying conditions although the analysis found that probable. Now the question is, is obesity an independent risk factor or a proxy for other conditions that make flu infection worse? Continue reading…
Adding herbs to lifestyle changes doubles the likelihood of lowering blood sugar in people with metabolic syndrome and according to the study will prevent progress to Type 2 diabetes unlike lifestyle changes alone. Three proprietary Chinese formulas included Jiangtang Bushen, Xiaoke huaya and Tang Kang yin. The ingredients were not specified but when I searched Pub Med I found that the lead researcher has done positive research on American ginseng saponins, puerarins from kudzu, glucosides from bai shao and berberine from coptis for the problem. Herbs such as rhemannia, jiaogulan and mai men dong are also traditionally used for diabetes, depending upon the Chinese medicine pattern. And I suggest that Continue reading…
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!
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)