Acupuncture is Effective for Sepsis and Inflammatory Diseases in Nature Medicine

As I'm sure you are aware, scientific research practically doesn't count until it's been published in a peer-reviewed academic journal.  You can do tons of interesting experiments, but if no one will publish your data, it doesn't matter.  Go home.  Your research is lame.

Unfortunately, this by no means implies that all published research is good.  There is an enormous hierarchy to journals.  The journals at the top of the hierarchy are incredibly competitive to get published in and they demand a higher quality of work with more compelling evidence, while Research Journal of West TooDaLoo will pretty much publish that you observed your cereal getting soggy when it sat in milk too long.  Accordingly, scientist generally value research from better journals as being more compelling because it meets a more rigorous standard. 

If you're interested in knowing more about how journals are ranked, we use something called an "impact factor" which you can read about here.

I want to preface the research I'm about to show you, by emphasizing that it was published in Nature Medicine. Nature Medicine is.....a really really good journal.  When my lab published data in Nature we all did a little dance and ceased referring to the paper by it's name, only calling it "The Nature Paper."

So this research is a pretty big deal.

Researches are Rutgers demonstrated that acupuncture could drastically decrease death from sepsis by modulating immune function in mice.  Sepsis is one of the major causes of death in hospitals, and has essentially no treatment. The researches performed electro-acupuncture on mice with sepsis and found that while there was zero survival in mice who did not receive acupuncture, half of the mice that did receive acupuncture lived.  Additionally, they went on to characterize how this was happening biochemically, and came up with physical evidence to support the use of acupuncture not just for sepsis, but for other inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and Crohn's disease.

Here is a link to the pubmed listing if you have access (unfortunately it's not free online), and here is a link to a more detailed article summarizing the paper's results.

Acupressure for Nausea and Motion Sickness

When I was little, I would get horribly horribly motion sick in cars.  On long road trips with my family I'd pop a Dramamine and pass out in the backseat, but on school trips it was a problem.  As I'm sure you remember, at ten years old there is only one place that is socially acceptable seating on a school bus, and it is the very back row.  This is also haaaands down the most bumpy part of the bus to sit in.

As an adult I may value being comfortable over being "cool" but as a sixth grader I certainly did not, so I spent the vast majority of field trip time pretty uncomfortable.

One particularly rough bus ride, no doubt on a very bumpy Vermont dirt road, one of the chaperones saw green faced little me in the back seat and took pity. She gave me these blue elastic wrist bands with a little plastic ball that she swore were the only thing that helped for her motion sickness.  These wrist bands were decidedly not "cool," but I was way too sick to care, so I tried them. Surprisingly, they worked!  Within a few minutes I was feeling better and back to playing MASH and making fortune tellers with my friends.

I had no idea at the time, but the little plastic ball in the wrist bands was putting pressure at an acupuncture point we call Pericardium-6.  This point is the #1 point used for nausea and motion sickness, and is very easy to find on yourself and press if you're feeling a little queasy.

To quickly find it, start by looking at the inside of your forearm, and measure up from your wrist using the width of your index and middle finger of the opposite hand. Poke around a little and you should feel two hard tendons running along the length of your arm (if you need help finding them, flex your hand up and they should pop right out) the acupuncture point is nestled right in between them.

Just give it a little pressure, and feel your nausea start to slowly go away!

8 Awesome Uses for Coconut Oil

My friend Jess and I met in our sophomore year of college. She knows the deepest darkest places of my soul, every single one of my idiosyncrasies, and we've practically perfected the eyeball conversation a la "How I Met Your Mother."  This is why it came as such a shock the other night when,  during a party, she pulled me aside, and whispered in hushed tones, "I saw coconut oil in your your bathroom..."

The truth is, I have been nuts (pun intended) about coconut oil for about 3 months and it never occurred to me that such an enormous obsession could go un-noticed by her.

"I....I've been using coconut oil too..." she continued in tones that up until now, I assumed would be reserved for phrases like I need you to help me hide a body, "but...what do you use it for?  I feel weird telling you what I use it for."

I used my eyeballs to say, you know you look like a total wacko right now, and she used her eyeballs to say but oil pulling sounds so WEIRD!

So for all you closeted coconut oil addicts, I want to say that you are not alone.  Coconut oil is awesome and you should use it with pride!  And for everyone who has not yet tried it, you should ABSOLUTELY go buy a jar - it will be the hardest working $5 purchase you ever make.

So what can you use coconut oil for?  Everything.

#1 Moisturizing

3 months ago I met coconut oil in a Chinese bodywork class at NESA.  It was my instructor's massage lotion of choice because it's solid at room temperature but liquid on the skin so it's very easy to work with.  I started noticing that my skin was sooooo silky smooth after using it, and now I use the stuff on literally every inch of my body daily.  Bonus points if you whip it up with vitamin E and essential oils into a body butter!

#2 Makeup Remover

This stuff is pure genius on eye makeup.  Just rub a little bit on, check out those awesome raccoon eyes you just created, and gently wipe it off with a cotton round.

#3 Oil Pulling (Jess's personal favorite)

Take a teaspoon of oil, stick it in your mouth, swish for about 20 minutes, then spit out. That's it.  Really.  This is supposed to whiten teeth, be good for general gum health, and strength jaw muscles - if you don't believe me, check out these cool research studies demonstrating its efficacy.

#4 Hair Conditioner

Use it like a mask - comb liberally though hair, put on a shower cap, and let sit as long as you have the patience for.  Rinse it out and then bask in the pantene pro-V commercial your hair has become.

#5 Frizz Fighter

With hair that falls somewhere between curly and wavy, I have been battling the frizz fight since the age of 10.  I know my frizz products, and coconut oil is definitely one of the best. Warm up about half a teaspoon in your hands and rake it through your hair with your fingers (this stuff goes a long way, so start with less than you think you'll need).  Run through with a comb, and then style as usual.

#6 Stir Fries

Coconut oil has an amazing flavor - try using it as your base oil in a stir fry with pineapples, snow peas, bell pepper, tofu, and maybe just a tooouch of thai curry....yummm

#7 Sugar Scrubbing

Mix coconut oil 1:1 with sugar and use it in the shower on every rough surface of your body.  You'll come out sparkling head to toe and soft as a baby's tush.

*be careful though! The shower may get slippery

#8 Cuticles

Coconut Oil is anti-fungal and has an emollient nature making it perfect for keeping cuticles soft and helping nails to grow stronger.

Auricular Acupuncture For Weight Loss

Yes you read that right!

Have you ever had ear acupuncture?

We frequently discuss auricular acupuncture as being a small but powerful form of acupuncture.  So powerful, in fact, lots of acupuncturists refuse to do it on pregnant women for fear that it will move too much qi (move that baby right out!), and entire treatments can be done with just your ears.  This is why it came as no surprise to me when I read this research paper (link here, additional study here) touting the weight loss benefits of auricular acupuncture.

In a randomized controlled clinical trial, 91 subjects were divided into 3 groups.  One group received sham acupuncture, one received a one acupuncture point treatment, and one received a complete weight loss acupuncture protocol with 5 points. After 8 weeks the two groups that received acupuncture had an overall reduction in BMI (5.7% for those receiving the 1 point treatment, and 6.1% for those receiving 5 points) over the control group.

Auricular acupuncture works by helping to control cravings and stabilize metabolism. If you're looking to lose a few pounds be sure to mention it to your acupuncturist!

Chinese Herbal Compound Relieves Inflammatory, Neuropathic Pain

A group of researchers at UC Irvine have identified the active ingredient in the Chinese herb Yan Hu Suo (the root of the plant Corydalis yanhusuo) which has been used for centuries to treat menstrual, abdominal, and hernia pain.  The active compound is dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB), and they found that it is effective at decreasing pain from both tissue damage as well as pain from damage to the nervous system.

This may sound only kind of cool, but it becomes really cool when you realize that there are currently no adequate treatments for pain from damage to the nervous system!  Moreover, DHCB does not generate tolerance over prolonged use. Way to go Chinese herbs!

Of course they're hoping this leads to the development of future pharmaceuticals so keep your eyes peeled know...just go see your local licensed herbalist.

Fun Fact: "Yan Hu Suo" is translated in English to "Extended Barbarian Rope"  

The research is published in today's issue of Current Biology.