AOMA Blog

Type 3 Diabetes: Sugar-induced Alzheimer’s?

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Mon, Dec 08, 2014 @ 10:50 AM

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Why a poor diet may be contributing to a rise in age-related cognitive problems

We often use the way our body looks as the barometer for health, but what if it was your brain that was suffering the consequences of our sugar addiction? New research suggests that Alzheimer's disease is intrinsically linked to insulin resistance of the brain and may be, in the most simplified terms, diabetes of the brain or Type 3 diabetes.

Millions of Americans with insulin resistance problems like Type 2 diabetes are being ravaged by health concerns, including heart disease, which is still the number-one cause of death in the United States, as well as a host of other maladies like eye problems, kidney disease, and neuropathy, to name a few.

Most of us are familiar to some degree with diabetes, but at times it can be confusing. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to produce insulin and is something one is born with. Type 2 diabetes is acquired and used to be labeled “adult onset” until we saw the spike in childhood cases in recent years. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a breakdown of the body’s insulin receptors and is typically associated with over-consumption of processed carbohydrates and sugar. So what’s Type 3 diabetes? It appears to be an insulin resistance of the brain, causing memory problems and personality changes; in essence, Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease, discovered more than a century ago, is characterized by amyloid plaques building up in the brain, contributing to cognitive problems such as memory loss and personality changes. For as much as is known, it’s still a largely mysterious disease.

In 2005, a neuropathologist from Brown University, Suzanne de la Monte, published her research proposing that for those with Alzheimer's the brain has become insulin resistant and essentially the brain cells are starving to death. This appears to be especially true in the parts of the brain that have to do with memory and personality.

So what does this mean in Traditional Chinese Medicine? A few of AOMA’s most knowledgeable teachers and supervisors weighed in on the issue.

Dr. "Nelson" Song Luo explained some aspects to consider:

“In TCM, insulin resistance is related to stagnation of the Liver qi that begins to over-control the Spleen. Because of this, the Spleen either cannot generate blood, causing poor memory, or phlegm will accumulate which disturbs the memory. We call this phlegm ‘misting the mind.’ Memory issues are the primary early manifestation in Alzheimer’s disease.”

When exploring this further, AOMA’s Dr. Yongxin Fan brought up that in TCM, the brain is called the Sea of Marrow and is controlled by the energetics of the Kidney. If there is chronic Spleen and Kidney qi deficiency, which is what we will often see in Type 2 diabetes, it stands to reason that the Sea of Marrow, the brain, would be impacted by this.

Dr. Qianzhi “Jamie” Wu added that Type 3 diabetes likely involves the energetics of the Heart, Kidney, and Spleen, and is a complex condition involving both excesses and deficiencies in the body.

“We know that memory is supported by blood and essence. Poor memory could be a result of Heart blood and Kidney essence deficiency. To be more specific, the short-term memory is supported by Heart blood, while the remote memory by Kidney essence.”

Wu also suggests that the excess would be seen from phlegm misting the mind, leading to symptoms of forgetfulness and personality change. All of this leads back to the Spleen “as the source of blood, source of phlegm, and the postnatal root of essence.”

Wu notes that some TCM experts believe that what we call the Spleen in Chinese medicine is very similar to the pancreas in biomedicine. “Therefore, the TCM treatment should also focus on these three organs, but the Spleen could be the most important one among these three.”

Additionally, sugar in all its forms—white starches to straight off the cane—can cause dampness and damp retention in the body. Dampness is a result of poor diet and digestion when the energetics of the Spleen is not functioning properly. It’s that heavy feeling you may know so well. Slow to get moving until you mainline a pot of coffee. It can affect the body and the thought process, so theoretically the dampness could accumulate in the brain in a more permanent way with years of neglect. Dampness transforming into invisible phlegm which causes those cognitive changes.

There are myriad reasons to moderate our consumption of processed foods, and this is just another in a long list. For now, listen to your body and talk with your healthcare team, including your acupuncturist, if you have concerns about poor memory, lack of mental clarity, and insulin resistance.

acupuncture appointments in Austin

About the author:

lauren_st_pierre_acupunctureLauren St. Pierre-Mehrens, MAcOM, L.Ac

A recent graduate of AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, Lauren is in the process of setting up her practice, earthspring | acupuncture.

Lauren has begun working with the Texas Center for Reproductive Acupuncture to support their staff, and she continues to work with The American Cancer Society as a cancer information specialist.  

She has lived in Austin since 2006 by way of Lake Tahoe, California, and counts Austin as her home with her husband and two Boston terriers.

Topics: Dr. Yongxin Fan, Dr. Qianzhi Wu, Dr. Song Luo, alzheimer's

Chinese Medicine for Stress Relief

Posted by Yongxin Fan on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 @ 12:06 PM

 

Chinese Medicine for Stress Relief

How Stress Affects the Body

Our bodies are hardwired to handle stress, but over time too much stress takes a toll on the body.  When we feel threatened the sympathetic nervous system is activated causing the heart rate to increase, the pupils to dilate, and blood to be directed towards the extremities. Digestion can temporarily shut down. This is also known as the "fight or flight" response and is why when we are stressed, we may feel agitated or want to run away from our problems. Cortisol, sometimes called “the stress hormone”, is also released, causing increases in both blood pressure and inflammation while suppressing the immune system. If our bodies continue to experience high amounts of cortisol, symptoms can evolve into anxiety, depression, fatigue, digestive issues and tension headaches.

Stress is defined as an organism's total response to environmental demands or pressures. In a medical or biological context stress  is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure).

Chinese Medicine for Stress Relief

acupuncture for stress

In Chinese medical theory, strong emotions like stress interrupt the body’s energy flowing smoothly. When these strong emotions are present for long periods of time they create a blockage in the body’s “road” system creating an energetic “traffic jam.” Acupuncture increases the circulation of blood and oxygenates the tissues throughout the body while cycling out cortisol and releasing natural pain-killers called endorphins. Other benefits of acupuncture include decreasing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and relaxing the muscles to help the body feel less stressed.

The traditional Chinese medicine approach is to focus on restoring the balance of energy in the body, such as soothing the liver Qi, tonifying the liver blood and spleen Qi, clearing the heat in the heart and liver, etc. A combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are generally applied and combined to treat stress; diet therapy and exercise is suggested as well.

Case Studies from AOMA professor, Dr.Yongxin Fan

Yongxin Fan acupuncturist

Dr. Yongxin Fan has over 20 years of clinical experience in treating muscular-skeletal disorders, pain, digestive disorders, and psycho-emotional disorders including stress.

“One patient had intense stress from her job and was having insomnia. I treated her with acupuncture and the herbal formula wen dan tang. After the first treatment she was sleeping much better and after two weeks the stress was much reduced.

A patient with more severe stress symptoms (anxiety, panic attack, insomnia, and heart palpitations) recovered in 3 weeks after receiving acupuncture and taking the herbal formulas gui pi tang & huang lain e jiao tang.

Sometimes the symptoms are less severe but still can be debilitating. I had a patient who complained that ever since childhood she cried very easily, making her uncomfortable. I gave her acupuncture and Chinese herbs (xiao yao wan & gan mai da zao tang), and after 2 months she is much better.”

Chinese Herbs for Stress

Chinese herbsThe most commonly prescribed Chinese herbal formulas for stress are xiao yao wan (also known as “Free and Easy Wanderer”), gan mai da zao tang, chai hu shu gan san, yi guan jian, yue ju wan, and gui pi tang. To find out the right herbs for you, make an appointment with a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. The practitioner will take a full medical history and do pulse and tongue diagnosis to determine the best acupuncture plan and herbal prescription.

Exercise and Diet for Stress

Exercise should be a part of everyone’s stress management plan, as it helps the body produce more endorphins, also known as the “runner’s high”. Many types of physical activity can stimulate this response and each person must find the right type of exercise for him or herself. For some, walking is enough, but others will want to get more of a workout to get their blood pumping and break a sweat.

Taiji, qigong, and meditation are forms of mind-body exercise and have been shown to help induce the “relaxation response.” The relaxation response makes the heart beat slower, muscles relax, breathing become slower, and blood pressure decrease.

As far as dietary therapy, most vegetables and fruits that are rich in color can help the body deal with stress. For example, in Chinese nutrition, blueberries, purple cabbage, beets, tomatoes, and eggplant are believed to be stress reducing. A diet high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins B & E is recommended, as these nutrients are easily depleted by stress.

Fruits and vegetables such as apricots, asparagus, avocados, bananas, and broccoli, brown rice, dried fruit, figs, salmon, green leafy vegetables, and most rich colored fruits are high in vitamin B. Even if you eat a healthy diet, vitamin B complex is a good supplement to consider if you suffer for chronic stress.

 Download our  Intro to Chinese Medicine  eBook

Sources:

Topics: Dr. Yongxin Fan, stress relief, stress management, acupuncture for stress relief

Pediatric Tuina – Ancient Chinese Massage for Kids

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, Jan 11, 2012 @ 02:10 PM

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I have twin boys, Daniel and Jack. While my smaller one, Jack, was 3 months old, he suffered from colic after breastfeeding almost once a day. When he was in pain, he would cry and his belly would be very tight to the touch. I began to massage his abdomen beside the belly button three to five times on both sides; after a minute or so of loud crying, he would gradually calm down and then immediately fall in sleep. I found this ancient massage technique to be very helpful and after about two weeks of massage combined with Chinese herbs, the colic never returned.

This technique is called “Na Du Jiao” which means “Grasping Belly Corner”, and it is one of the numerous massage techniques of Chinese Pediatric Tuina (traditional massage). Chinese Pediatric Tuina has been applied for over one thousand years in China. Its popularity has grown in the last three to four hundred years.  

pediatric tuinaPediatric massage is applied on specific points of various parts of the body, such as the face, abdomen, back and extremities depending on the disorders. Lotion can be used to protect the skin and ease the treatment. Each session lasts about 20 – 30 minutes. In most cases, the treatment should be given once a day or every other day. Since the pediatric tuina technique is very simple, parents are encouraged to learn and practice some of the major techniques, so they can repeat the treatments at home.  

In Chinese medicine, children are regarded with “pure Yang constitution” which means they grow and develop fast in physique and intelligence. At the same time, they are also “young Yang and Yin constitution” meaning they have imperfect organic function and physical bodies, which is why they get sick easily, especially with digestive and respiratory problems. As a parent, it often seems that stomach aches (bloating, vomiting, nausea, constipation, diarrhea) or colds (coughing, asthma, allergies) as well as bed wetting & night time crying are ubiquitous during childhood.  

Pediatric tuina is a safe manual therapy; it is gentle without side effects and great to relieve most discomforts experienced during childhood. Besides that, it is also excellent at preventing other diseases. Providing regular and simple pediatric tuina for your kids can strengthen their digestive and immune systems and support their natural body constitution. Children who have picky appetites or easily catch colds are great candidates for pediatric tuina. It is most effective for children from birth to seven years old. For older kids, acupuncture is a good combination as well.   A lot of times, a Chinese herbal formula is suggested to be combined to provide even better and faster results. 

Tips for a successful tuina or acupuncture treatment for your child:
  • It’s best if your child doesn’t come to his/her appointment on an empty or full stomach.
  • Plan for your child to take it easy after his/her treatment.
  • Sometimes after receiving an acupuncture treatment your child may feel a little lightheaded or “woozy.” If that is the case, please have him/her sit for a while in our waiting area. In a few minutes he/she will be relaxed and clear-headed.

Request an Appointment

Yongxin Fan, LAc has over 20 years of clinical experience in treating muscular-skeletal disorders, pain, digestive disorders, and psycho-emotional disorders.

Topics: pediatrics, Dr. Yongxin Fan, tunia, tcm

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