Posts Tagged ‘alternative medicine’


February 7, 2011 2 comments

'Mugwort' By, Barry Cornelius

While Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV are not two diseases that we consider epidemic in industrialized countries (the US); they have reached epidemic proportions in other, less developed countries.  In the US, we are fortunate enough to have access to health care, sanitary conditions, education, vaccines & nutrition; and due to our high stress lives we are much more likely to get completely preventable diseases like heart disease & type II diabetes.  So, while we get carried away dealing with the stresses and strains of our busy, overworked lives, there is a huge contingent of people suffering & dying from diseases that can be treated & possibly prevented; but don’t have the means or access to any of it.  Fortunately there are people out there using ‘new’, or in this case, very old treatment modalities to help those in impoverished areas to ease their suffering.

One modality we use in Chinese Medicine is Moxibustion; Moxa for short.  It’s an herb by the name of Mugwort or Artemisia Vulgaris, you may know of it or even see it growing in your yard.  It is a particularly powerful herb and can be used in a number of different ways.  You can take it internally, or topically as a plaster, salve or rub; but most commonly this herb is burned either directly on the skin, just above the skin or on an acupuncture needle.  There are many different kinds of moxa as well, they are generally processed differently; some more pure than others, some more smoky than others.  Like anything, it depends on where you get it, who you get it from and what your intention is for using the herb.  Like most things in Chinese Medicine, I find myself talking about it and think to myself, this sounds a little crazy and weird and possibly barbaric.  Yes, we do burn this herb on your skin, however, it isn’t a burning sensation you feel but a calming & very relaxing warmth over an area of the body or a specific point.  It’s really quite nice and therapeutic in more ways than one.  Some common uses include the treatment of digestive disorders, musculoskeletal disorders (acute trauma and chronic pain), asthma & chronic immune compromising infections to name a few.  In general it has a warming effect on the body and works very well to bring blood supply to the area, increase the healing capacity of the tissue, as well as emit a systemic improvement in your bodies natural immunity.  The power of Moxa (or mugwort ) is much more than a sensation of warmth on the skin (which in itself is nice), it goes much deeper than that and causes a plethora of positive reactions deep to the tissue effecting the whole body and not just one area.  For more information on Moxa and its different uses complete with pictures and video; check out this Facebook page:  Moxibustion:  The Power of Mugwort.

Moxa therapy has been shown to increase immune function, specifically increase white blood cell counts, anti-inflammatory cytokines & anti-body production.  In addition to just improving your immunity and helping when you are simply feeling a bit down, it has proven to be particularly helpful in treating (you guessed it) TB and HIV.  Ever wonder how we treated disease before there were vaccines and pharmaceuticals?   When TB swept the country of Japan back in the 1930’s their primary treatment method was Moxa therapy.  It proved especially helpful in improving life expectancy (of both the sick and the healthy), decreasing the symptoms associated with TB and raising the spirits of those who were afflicted by the disease as well as those who weren’t.

Presently moxa is still used in China & Japan as well as by Acupuncturists and Chinese Medicine practitioners across the United States and the world.  In Japan it is so ‘popular’ that there are many who practice only Moxibustion therapy, (Moxibustionists) and there are many different levels of licensing for practicing Moxa.  In addition to its therapeutic relevance, Moxa therapy is also cost-effective and easy to access; two very important aspects that a developing country, stricken by large numbers of TB and HIV could benefit from.  One organization recognized the benefits of Moxa and is bringing this wealth of knowledge to Africa to help treat those suffering from both TB and HIV.  The organization is called Moxafrica & originated in 2008:

It arose directly from a feasability and fact finding trip last December to Lyantonde, a truck stop town four hours from Kampala on the main route connecting Rwanda and the Eastern Congo to the whole of East Africa. Lyantonde has an unfortunate reputation as a focus for prostitution and HIV/AIDS, the town being home to the first ever officially recorded case of AIDS in Africa.

Our aim was to assess how they would feel about the idea of burning something on the skin, and whether they would consider it an acceptable therapy to try out in their own work places. Additionally we wanted to assess how easy it might be to teach African health workers basic moxa skills.  We soon had them all rolling moxa, both making and burning tiny cones with impressive dexterity.

The following day we were invited to demonstrate moxa treatments on two patients, one of them a very sick man co-infected with TB and HIV. He was terribly wasted by the two diseases, cared for by his sister who was vainly trying to administer his daily medication. After we had finished treating him, using the minimum possible stimulation of moxa because of his dreadful condition, we used a trainee to help us explain to his sister how to use moxa and how to locate a treatment point, leaving her clear instructions on a simple protocol to follow every day, building up dosage if he strengthened.

What we suspect we witnessed at this moment was something we had not even considered previously – that teaching the carer of such a sick person a simple moxa protocol fundamentally offered her something meaningful to do for her brother, and was offering her something maybe even more important as well – hope.  We’re not sure yet how significant this might turn out to be.

To our knowledge this was the first time that a moxa protocol for TB from the 1930’s has ever been used to treat anyone co-infected both with TB and AIDS anywhere in the world. Two weeks after we got back we got the following extraordinary feedback:  “Frank’s response was truly fantastic. I wish you had seen the joy in his sister/attendant as she explained to us how he had improved. I think everyone was just so excited, as he seemed so ill.”

Two days after the treatment began, it transpired that Frank was out of bed, walking tentatively in the ward, and eating.

Cautiously, we found ourselves asking whether this simple treatment might really be able to make the sort of difference we hope it might (, Feb. 6, 2011).

And thus, the project began and continues to inspire those afflicted by disease in an impoverished community.  To continue reading about the program & additional studies regarding Moxa, please check out their website and if you feel so inclined, please donate to the cause.


In addition to this organization there are a number of others up and running in Africa as well as other countries including our own (the US) that I’ve written of in previous posts:

The Flying Needle: An organization also based in South Africa, helping those with HIV/AIDS

Acupuncturists Without Borders: An organization set up to help with traumatic events; i.e. Katrina and the 911 incidence

The Acupuncture Relief Project:  A project stationed out of Nepal which was founded by a fellow OCOM graduate

Until next time, ask your Acupuncturist about Moxa treatment & as always…

~Be well~



Moxibustion: the power of mugwort fire. (2010, February 6). Retrieved from

Moxafrica. (2010, February 6). Retrieved from

Wilson, Carla, Breaking the Silence in South Africa,, Dec. 1st, 2009The Flying Needle Project, Dec. 1st 2009


It’s a BIG weekend!

February 13, 2010 Leave a comment

By, Renny18 on


So, here I sit, just spent another 10 hours in school knocking down midterms fighting off an inevitable headache, but I’m still at it!  In case you didn’t already know, this weekend is kind of a big deal!  For one it’s Valentine’s Day for all you romantics out there, for another it’s Chinese New Year… which is pretty exciting.  It is the year of the Tiger this year which means the year is sure to be filled with boldness; more on that later.  But, most importantly, starting tonight… it is the start of the Olympic Winter Games!  I can’t believe it is already here!  I have a special place in my heart for games like these, I just LOVE the competition and the awesomeness of it all; athletes uniting an otherwise divided country, the feats of pure strength, heart and athleticism and the fact that these athletes bring such inspiration and hope to us all!  Good luck to all the competitors from all countries… but especially my favorite snowboarder; Graham Watanabe (we’ve pretty much known eachother since before we could stand on two legs, let alone rip down a mountain on a board as fast as you can; a good ol’ hometown Hailey, ID boy)… you rock Grahambo!  Kick butt out there!  You can watch Graham on Monday he’ll be competing in the Men’s Snowboarder Cross!  Also, be sure to check out Women’s and Men’s Freestyle Moguls this weekend (I use to ski with these guys!!  I’m rooting for them all!)  & check out the Aerialists too!  If you didn’t see it already, my buddy Jeret Peterson (also an Idaho native – Boise, ID) otherwise known as Speedy was on The Biggest Loser this week and will be sure to kick some serious butt out there this year! So check out the schedule on & see what these guys can do!

Click here:  NBC Olympic Schedule

In the spirit of the Winter Games and since we’re on the topic of Winter sports and more specifically Skiing.  I wanted to also include this article that I just read from  

Skiing Injuries and The Power of TCM

The article discusses the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine as a treatment modality for injury prevention and as an essential treatment protocol for skiing injuries and post surgery rehab in high level athletes.   One common injury that many skiers, regardless of their abilities are afflicted with, is an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) tear; meaning one of the four major ligaments in the knee has been compromised, either partially or completely torn.  In general ski injuries usually involve the knees & possibly back.  If you are familiar with skiing, this shouldn’t surprise you. 

TCM and other Chinese Medical modalities have proven to be quite successful in treating post-surgical procedures by reducing recovery time, strengthening tendon and ligaments, reducing inflammation and getting these athletes back on the hill stronger and more healthy than before.  In addition to Acupuncture, herbal remedies, both internal and topical may be used, as well as cupping, gua sha and moxa to increase blood flow, relieve stagnation and inflammation in the area of injury; and improve range of motion and overall joint health to get the athlete back on snow.  It can also be used as a preventative modality with functional training regimens and strength exercise.  In order to prevent injury and illness, you need to build up your body to overcome any adversity that it may be exposed to; the trick is being prepared and correcting your deficiencies & weaknesses before they are exposed!

 Now since I brought it up, you will all have to go knock on wood because I’m sure to have just broken a few rules as far as starting my post out wishing Olympic athletes good luck this year and ending it by discussing the treatment protocol for knee injuries!


Source: Feb., 12th 2010; Feb., 12th 2010; Feb., 12th 2010

Help Haiti Heal!

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment


     On Wednesday February 3rd, Acupuncturists Without Borders will be sending a group of practitioners to the Dominican Republic!  They will be there to help the victims of the recent earthquake, assist other health organizations, street clinics, The Dominican Republic Red Cross, local hospitals etc.  I just received an email with all the details & so far they’ve managed to raise just over $10,000 in monetary donations as well as $2,400 in Acupuncture supplies.  Please help out with whatever you can, our goal is to raise about $7,500 more!  Please click on the Poster and the Website links below to find out how to donate and help! 

Acupuncture is such a wonderful medicine during traumatic times like these, it’s cheap, easy, effective and travels well! 

Website:  Acupuncturists Without Borders

Poster:  Haiti Poster color

~be well~


New Years Resolutions…

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

by, janoid

Happy New Year and post Holidays!  I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I’ve been busy on vacation & getting refreshed for the new year and the ominous winter quarter that is upon us at OCOM (Oregon College of Oriental Medicine).   Winter quarter has just about every student dreading the next few months, you may think this is due to the gloomy skies and dark rainy days but it’s not.  Every winter quarter is packed full with extra classes and more time spent in books; it makes methink that they do this on purpose since the days are so short and generally gloomy or way or they are just sadistic.  Either way, it’s a rough few months ahead of us which makes it all the more necessary to work on balance, relaxation and ways to de-stress. 

And, since it is the new year, I thought I’d share at least one of my many new years resolutions: Do more Qi-Gong… and more specifically, Do Qi-Gong twice a week outside of class (Qi-Gong is an elective class that we can take once a week).  I just was reading one of my favorite websites, and there was an article about Meditation and how it’s been shown to lower blood pressure & reduce a persons affinity towards hypertension in the future.  So one could extrapolate that it could reduce your chances of developing heart disease as well?!  There have been many studies on the effects of Meditation practices on our health, a regular practice has been shown to have positive effects on stress management, blood pressure, diabetes, sleeping habits, pain management, memory, gastro-intestinal disorders & the list goes on. 

A just-published study suggests the practice of meditation may bring cardiovascular and mental-health benefits.

The research, followed close to 300 students, half of whom practiced transcendental meditation for 20 minutes once or twice daily over three months. A subgroup of subjects in the meditation group who were at increased risk for hypertension significantly lowered their blood pressure and psychological distress, and also bolstered their coping ability.

The average reduction in blood pressure in this group — a 6.3-mm Hg decrease in the top (systolic) number of a blood pressure reading and a 4-mm Hg decrease in the lower (diastolic) number — was associated with a 52 percent reduction in the risk of developing hypertension in the future.

Meditators who were not at increased risk for hypertension saw a reduction in psychological distress, depression, and anxiety as well as increased coping ability.

QiGong is a Chinese practice of energy healing and exercise.  It means to work (Gong) with the life energy (Qi).  It is the practice of learning how to control the flow and distribution of qi to improve the health and harmony of mind and body.  The aim is to eliminate the impure by using the breathe and specific movements and to inspire the pure to enhance ones health.  There are many different forms of Qi-Gong, many of which are passed down through families and used for different reasons.  Many Chinese Medical Doctors prescribe Qi-Gong to their patients as a means of self healing; it’s something their patients (not to mention themselves) can do everyday to maintain a healthy body and mind.  (Cohen, 3-5).

This study is a great reminder for me, that yes, I NEED to commit to my new year’s resolution and do as much Qi-Gong as I can this quarter and every quarter (let alone for the rest of my life).  If there are this many health benefits associated with something so easy, cheap and non-time consuming, shouldn’t we all just take 20 minutes out of our days and find our own way to meditate, whether it be through Qi-Gong, Meditation, or Yoga (just to name a few).  With this post, I am holding myself accountable for my resolution and I hope it sparks some inspiration in you to learn how to de-stress, relax and improve your health from the inside out.

If you are in the Portland, Oregon area, and want to try some Qi-Gong classes, there are classes available to the public through OCOM, if you are interested please let me know or visit the school website or contact the school for more information. 

Till next time,

~be well~


Sources:, Jan. 12th 10; Cohen, Kenneth S. The Way of QiGong New York, Ballantine Books 1997

Alternative Medical Therapy Works?!

December 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Echinacea Flower By, Roddh

So I subscribe to a bunch of email list-serves and end up getting tons in my email inbox, tending to just pick some out at random and read them every once in a while.  Today, I decided to read one and came across this article that I just had to share with you.  If you are at all interested in Alternative Medicine of any kind, or (& especially) if you consider it all a bunch of ‘hocus pocus’ I highly recommend you continue reading.

A few times throughout the article I found myself going “right on… take that you skeptics”… but in my more appropriate, non-partisan mind, I’m thinking “this is just a good heads up to everyone that we should always remember to consider the source; the person’s intention, background, and underlying benefactors or motivations when reading any kind of information or research”.

Dear Reader,

Marilynn Marchione got it exactly right.

This Associated Press medical writer has been working on a series of articles about alternative medical treatments. Each piece begins with this note: “Ten years and $2.5 billion in research have found no cures from alternative medicine.”

She’s talking about the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. And I agree completely. For the most part, NCCAM has been cranking out lame studies that test absurdly low doses of herbs or supplements, or use poor forms of these treatments.

For instance, a 2003 study showed that Echinacea was ineffective in treating upper respiratory infections. One problem: Researchers used Echinacea mostly extracted from the flower of the plant. As any herbalist will tell you, roots contain the most potent concentration of medicinal agents, while flowers tend to be the least potent.

So that $2.5 billion that was largely wasted by NCCAM turns out to be a pretty sweet gift for people like Marilynn who take great delight in alt med “failures.”

In the most recent article in her series she spotlights the placebo effect. You can just imagine how she applies this to alt medicine.

Marilynn: “The placebo effect looms large in alternative medicine, which has many therapies and herbal remedies based on beliefs versus science.”

{and… here it comes, my favorite part…}

Well…not really. Those beliefs are based on centuries of trial and error conducted by generations of doctors and scientists. That’s how they did it back then. And it’s both naïve and arrogant to dismiss all that knowledge just because it doesn’t conform to a modern idea of “gold standard” research.

Marilynn also enlightens us with this note: “Many alternative medicine studies have not included a placebo group…”

Here’s my note to Marilynn: This isn’t 1980. You MUST be aware of the thousands of randomized, double blind, placebo controlled alt med studies over the past decade. And you must also be aware that sometimes a study’s design just doesn’t require a placebo group.

For instance, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine tested a supplement of niacin (vitamin B-3) against Merck’s Zetia, a drug that reduces cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract. More than 200 patients with heart disease or heart disease risk were randomly selected to receive either the supplement or the drug for 14 months.

Results: LDL cholesterol and triglycerides were reduced in both groups. HDL cholesterol increased in both groups (mostly in the niacin group). But two important things happened in the niacin group that DID NOT happen in the Zetia group: 1) Thickness of the carotid artery walls was reduced in the niacin group, and 2) Incidence of major cardiovascular events was lower in the niacin group.

Fewer heart attacks and a reversal of arteriosclerosis. Not too shabby! We may not have enough evidence yet to actually say that niacin might “cure” arteriosclerosis. But it’s not too soon at all to point out to Marilynn that as placebo effects go, the reversing of narrowed arteries and prevention of heart attacks is pretty impressive.

In fact, it’s almost too impressive. Why…it’s almost as if this alternative medical therapy actually works!

Hopefully you’ve taken the time to read through this article and taken a little insight into the ability of some to misconstrue information if that’s what they intend to do.  Be smart, get all the facts, expand your reading material (read information from people you don’t necessarily agree with).  There is always something more to be learned, and gained from a different perspective and arming yourself with the information is crucial especially when it comes to your health!

~Be Well~


Source:  The Health Sciences Institute, Dec. 2nd 2009 *This article was taken from an email subscription sent to me*

World AIDS Day

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment


by, Sully Pixel

During my Western Pathology Class this year, we had a very emotional day when discussing the topic of HIV and AIDS… it’s truly a heartbreaking disease, and if only I could I would heal the whole world!  Since it is World AIDS Awareness Day, I figured I better post something and raise awareness not only of the disease but of the potential for Acupuncture to be beneficial in its treatment.  This is an excerpt on an article in Acupuncture Today reporting on the 13th Internation Conference on AIDS by Carla Wilson.  It is from October, 2000 but, it will give you a little peek into the AIDS epidemic that is still alive and growing.

More than 12,000 delegates and observers from 180 countries gathered in Durban, South Africa this July to break the stigma, indifference and ignorance surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

South Africa currently has the highest concentration of HIV cases in the world, with an estimated 4.2 million HIV-positive people. Six thousand people in Africa die of AIDS every day, while the rate of infection increases by 1,600 daily.


This year, I provided acupuncture treatment every afternoon in the conference’s exhibitors hall. I arranged chairs “detox style” and provided a “treatment on demand” clinic in the center of the NGO (non-goverment organization) community. My little “four-chair clinic” was never empty, and people waited in line for a chance to try acupuncture. I found that several of the conference participants were very interested in the possibility of acupuncture treatment to help manage HIV infection. Many languages were spoken, but frequently it was the universal language of gentleness and reassuring touch that mattered most, as countless people were able to have their first experience of the marvelous effects of acupuncture….

To read more please click on this link:  Breaking the Silence in South Africa

Somewhere in my archives of emails I also have a link to a blog about an acupuncture clinic in South Africa that treats victims of the AIDS virus… I’m going to try and find it, because it’s a great blog and when I do, you can bet I’ll post it for you!

… and here it is!  The Flying Needle Project!  A graduate from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine set this Acupuncture clinic up in South Africa in August of this year.  Here is a little taste of what they are all about:

The Flying Needle Project is born out of the need for a form of HIV/AIDS healthcare that is affordable, effective, mobile, supportive and widespread. It is founded on the principle that health care is a right, and not a privilege.  The vision of FNP is to offer complementary health care to anyone who requires it in order to bolster the strained national health system.

In August 2009 the project opened a clinic at the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, where it utilizes a revolving door of health care professionals specializing in Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Reiki, Massage and Holistic Medicine.  In order to reach the townships and more rural areas, FNP hopes to create a mobile clinic within the first year of operation. FNP will either partner with an existing mobile clinic or purchase and design its own. This step will bring the medicine to those in need who cannot afford transportation to the city.

FNP’s vision relies of four key principles that will drive it to meet its mission:

No cost to every patient

Mobile and widespread

Effective and efficient

Educational and Empowering

Each of these goals works in conjunction with one another and foster sustainable results that reduce suffering, increase health and vitality and improve the quality of life for the HIV populations in South Africa.

Please check out this blog, and donate to the cause!  The Flying Needle Project

~Be Well~


Source:  Wilson, Carla, Breaking the Silence in South Africa,, Dec. 1st, 2009, The Flying Needle Project, Dec. 1st 2009

An Integrative Approach

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment



This is one of the reasons that I love Portland so much!  It is an absolute mecca for anyone in the alternative health care business; and not just alternative but anyone in health care.  I may be a bit partial but I believe Portland is at the forefront of all things progressive in Medicine, intent on collaborating all types of Medicine to achieve the best possible outcomes for everyone.  If you are in the area check out this new lecture series that the Oregon Collaborative for Integrative Medicine is putting on.  They have already held two seminars; one of which you can view on their website. 

Did you know that Portland, Oregon might be the only city in the world to house a medical school, a naturopathic college, a chiropractic college and a college of oriental medicine? We are committed to enhancing health and health care by building upon this unique opportunity.

The Oregon Collaborative for Integrative Medicine or OCIM is a collaborative formed between the National College of Natural Medicine, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University and Western States Chiropractic College that aims to promote integrative health through education, research and patient care.

It feels really special to be so close to all these great minds in the Alternative and Complementary Medicine world of Oregon, and to be a part of a such an amazing paradigm shift in the health care arena.  On their website, OCIM has resources for patients, practitioners and students and it looks like they will be expanding in the future.  In October they started a lecture series which is open & free to the public.  You can even access the video link to a lecture on the Swine Flu (their first integrative lecture) on their website.  I haven’t been able to make one due to school constraints but hope to attend one soon!  If you are in the Portland area, I highly recommend checking it out and seeing where the future of our Medicine is headed.  If you are a student, they are in the process of setting up a grassroots platform for change; if you would like to be a part of it, there is a link to email them for more information!  From the homepage click the ‘For Students’ link.

The next lecture will be held on January 13th, 2010 from 12 – 1:05 on the OHSU campus.  The topic will be Hypothyroidism; for more information please visit the website:  Other topics coming up include:  ‘Managing Side Effects of Common Cancer Therapies’ & ‘Sports Medicine’ which will be held after the new year as well.

If you are on Facebook or Twitter, you can keep watch there too!  Just scroll down to the bottom of the page here.

Stay tuned… this is only the beginning of an amazing collaboration between great minds in the health industry working together to promote healthy living and progress in the industry! 

~be well~


Source:  Oregon Collaboration for Integrative Medicine, Dec. 1st 2009

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