By Gretchen Reynolds, NY Times
Recently, researchers in Britain set out to study the heart health of a group of dauntingly fit older athletes. Uninterested in sluggards, the scientists recruited only men who had been part of a British national or Olympic team in distance running or rowing, as well as members of the extremely selective 100 Marathon club, which admits runners who, as you might have guessed, have completed at least a hundred marathons.
All of the men had trained and competed throughout their adult lives and continued to work out strenuously. Twelve were age 50 or older, with the oldest age 67; another 17 were relative striplings, ages 26 to 40. The scientists also gathered a group of 20 healthy men over 50, none of them endurance athletes, for comparison. The different groups underwent a new type of magnetic resonance imaging of their hearts that identifies very early signs of fibrosis, or scarring, within the heart muscle. Fibrosis, if it becomes severe, can lead to stiffening or thickening of portions of the heart, which can contribute to irregular heart function and, eventually, heart failure.
The results, published online a few weeks ago in The Journal of Applied Physiology, were rather disquieting. None of the younger athletes or the older nonathletes had fibrosis in their hearts. But half of the older lifelong athletes showed some heart muscle scarring. The affected men were, in each case, those who’d trained the longest and hardest. Spending more years exercising strenuously or completing more marathon or ultramarathon races was, in this study, associated with a greater likelihood of heart damage.
By Greg Bishop
Stretched out on a massage table in his Long Island City condominium, Jets fullback Tony Richardson closed his eyes. Over the next hour, he groaned and grimaced and eventually fell asleep, as Lisa Ripi, the traveling N.F.L. acupuncturist, went to work.
Ripi poked and prodded Richardson on a recent Tuesday, using blue and pink needles, until his body resembled a road map marked with 120 destinations. “SportsCenter” provided mood music. Afterward, Richardson said his soreness had mostly vanished.
“They always tell me I’m their little secret,” Ripi said. “I feel like the little mouse who takes the thorns out of their feet.”
Professional football players partake in a violent game, and as the season progresses, they spend more time in training rooms than on practice fields. They visit chiropractors and massage therapists, practice yoga, undergo electronic stimulation and nap in hyperbaric chambers.
Yet relatively few receive acupuncture, which brings smiles to the faces of Ripi’s clients. They remain fiercely territorial. They fight over Fridays because it is closest to their games. They accuse one another of hogging, or trying to steal her.
This may seem a bit off-track, but animal studies in acupuncture are interesting because they rule out the placebo effect (feeling better due to simple suggestion or expectation). From the Guardian:
Ever since Chinese doctors first poked their patients with sharp objects 4,000 years ago, and charged them for the pleasure, acupuncture has been shrouded in mystery.
Tradition has it that the procedure works by improving the flow of “qi” along invisible energy channels called meridians, but research published today points to a less mystical explanation for the painkilling claims of acupuncture.
The answer, according to a team of scientists in New York, follows an extraordinary study in which researchers gave regular acupuncture sessions to mice with sore paws.
After each half-hour session the mice felt less discomfort in their paws because the needles triggered the release of a natural painkiller, the researchers say. The needles caused tissue damage that stimulated cells to produce adenosine, an anti-inflammatory chemical, that was effective for up to an hour after the therapy was over.
Just 65 years ago, David Livermore’s paternal grandmother died following an operation to remove her appendix. It didn’t go well, but it was not the surgery that killed her. She succumbed to a series of infections that the pre-penicillin world had no drugs to treat. Welcome to the future.
The era of antibiotics is coming to a close. In just a couple of generations, what once appeared to be miracle medicines have been beaten into ineffectiveness by the bacteria they were designed to knock out. Once, scientists hailed the end of infectious diseases. Now, the post-antibiotic apocalypse is within sight.
Hyperbole? Unfortunately not. The highly serious journal Lancet Infectious Diseases yesterday posed the question itself over a paper revealing the rapid spread of multi-drug-resistant bacteria. “Is this the end of antibiotics?” it asked.
Hurting? If a few needles can help Hill, they can help me
PHOENIX — The needles are about two inches long. The man is grinning like the Cheshire cat as he pushes them into the muscle surrounding my right shoulder, then sticks them into various points around my ankles and right up the center of my stomach and chest.
There’s a twinkle in his eye as he goes about this devilish business. While I’m lying on a narrow table inside a small, windowless room, I can hear him humming a tune.
First he attaches a spider web of leads to the end of each needle. The wires are running from a battery about the size of a brick. Then he flips on the juice.
“Let me know,” he says in a soft, low voice, “when you can feel the charge.”
Ba-DUM! Ba-DUM! Ba-DUM! Cut to commercial? I feel like Jack Bauer on an episode of 24.
I’m in the offices of Guoliang Cao, L.Ac., Doctor of Chinese Medicine, where in the next room, Suns forward Grant Hill — like me — has his body covered in acupuncture needles as he prepares for his next battle against the Lakers.
Source: Huffington Post
Here’s some depressing recent medical news: Antidepressants don’t work. What’s even more depressing is that the pharmaceutical industry and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have deliberately deceived us into believing that they DO work. As a physician, this is frightening to me. Depression is among the most common problems seen in primary-care medicine and soon will be the second leading cause of disability in this country.
The study I’m talking about was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. It found that drug companies selectively publish studies on antidepressants. They have published nearly all the studies that show benefit — but almost none of the studies that show these drugs are ineffective.
That warps our view of antidepressants, leading us to think that they do work. And it has fueled the tremendous growth in the use of psychiatric medications, which are now the second leading class of drugs sold, after cholesterol-lowering drugs.
The problem is even worse than it sounds, because the positive studies hardly showed benefit in the first place.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently published an article about the link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. It was actually a meta-analysis, which is a compilation and statistical analysis of different studies conducted on the same topic, in order to look for broader trends than a single study alone can provide.
The premise of the meta-analysis was to explore the commonly held idea that “a reduction in dietary saturated fat has generally been thought to improve cardiovascular health.”
Twenty-one studies involving almost 350,000 people were compiled, among which 11,000 developed coronary heart disease or stroke.
And what was the conclusion? Read the full post
Read the full post
This is an exciting technological development, unrelated to Chinese medicine but fascinating nonetheless.
It’s also worthy of note that medical qigong techniques can reduce the amount of time it takes for bone fractures to heal. So Western and Chinese medicine can go hand in hand.
Scientists in Italy have developed a way of turning rattan wood into bone that is almost identical to the human tissue.
At the Istec laboratory of bioceramics in Faenza near Bologna, a herd of sheep have already been implanted with the bones.
The process starts by cutting the long tubular rattan wood up into manageable pieces.
It is then snipped into even smaller chunks, ready for the complex chemical process to begin.
The pieces are put in a furnace and heated.
In simple terms, carbon and calcium are added.
The wood is then further heated under intense pressure in another oven-like machine and a phosphate solution is introduced.
Here’s a relatively straightforward article reviewing a recent study confirming that acupuncture has beneficial effects on hot flashes and other symptoms accompanying breast cancer, on par with standard medications.
Acupuncture is just as good as standard medication to ease hot flashes and other uncomfortable symptoms in women undergoing breast cancer treatment.
And as an added bonus, the needle treatment may boost the patient’s sex drive and contribute to clearer thinking.
“I think the data shows you that acupuncture is a good option for these patients [and] it has no side effects,” added Dr. Eleanor Walker, division director of breast services in the department of radiation oncology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and lead author of a study appearing online Dec. 28 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
In the lineage of Chinese medicine I follow, the concept of trauma stands out as a significant, and unfortunately pervasive, block to proper treatment and improvement of health. Trauma can impede the flow of energy and circulation of blood on a systemic level, whether this trauma is physical or emotional. Unresolved, this stagnation can accumulate and cause ever-increasing problems.
A recent Sports Illustrated article shows that fitness and excellence in a sport and long-term health are two different things, especially if the sport is one in which physical trauma is embedded. This highlights the importance of resolving trauma and restoring the smooth flow of energy and blood, something that acupuncture and herbal medicine both excel in doing.
Dave Pear has a message for you.
“Don’t let your kids play football,” he says. “Never.”
It is an odd thing, hearing these sort of words from a man like David Louis Pear, University of Washington standout, Pro Bowl defensive lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Super Bowl champion with the Oakland Raiders. His five-year NFL career was one thousands of high school and college athletes would envy — charging out of a darkened stadium tunnel, 70,000 fans screaming for you, loving you, praising you, idolizing you.
“You wanna know the truth?” says Pear.
The question lingers — the 56-year-old ex-athlete preparing to unload one more skull-splitting hit.
“I wish I never played football. I wish that more than anything. Every single day, I want to take back those years of my life …”