Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa's Blog

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Did you know that acupuncture is often used to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy? October 8, 2010

The National Cancer Institute recently compiled numerous studies showing the beneficial effects of acupuncture on chemotherapy patients.  Reduced pain, less fatigue and less nausea are the main effects. Patients who receive acupuncture while undergoing chemotherapy experience reduced pain, less fatigue and less nausea than patients receiving chemotherapy alone. There is also an enhancement of immune function that occurs with those who receive acupuncture.

Here is the link to the National Cancer Institute compilation about acupuncture and chemotherapy:

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/acupuncture/HealthProfessional/page5

In addition to acupuncture, our chemotherapy patients often receive digestive enzyme supplements to help with healing and energy.  We generally do not give herbs while a patient is receiving chemotherapy since there could be some interactions with the chemotherapy and we view our role in cancer treatment as an adjunct to the Western Medicine primary care.  However, once the course of chemotherapy is completed, there are many wonderful herbs that can help patients to recover rapidly.

Of course prevention is always easier and more effective than treatment after an illness has occurred.  The true and higher calling of our medicine is to prevent illnesses from occurring in the first place.  I’ll discuss how this applies to cancer in the next post.

 

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Did you know that very popular heartburn/reflux medications contribute to osteoporosis? October 1, 2010

From an article in Health Daily News on May 25, 2010:  “Blockbuster heartburn medications such as Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium will now carry a warning on their labels linking the drugs to a heightened risk for fractures, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced.”

Here’s a link to the rest of the article:

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=116609

While these heartburn medications are advertised as harmless, in fact long-term use significantly impairs your ability to metabolize proteins and minerals.  The most obvious result we see in our practice is fatigue.  However, it is now apparent that reduced bone mass is another long-term side effect.   You need your stomach acid to digest your foods!

We have a better way.  Acupuncture along with some of our herbs and enzymes can dramatically improve your digestion and eliminate reflux symptoms.  Plus you will feel more relaxed!

 

To Vaccinate or Not Vaccinate? October 16, 2009

Patients have been asking me lately about whether or not they should get the flu vaccinations, both regular seasonal flu vaccination and the H1N1 swine flu vaccination.

I think the short answer for most of my patients is no.  However, this is not a simple question, so I’m going to take a round about way of answering it, and first discuss vaccinations in general.

Even if every bad thing you have ever heard about the effect of vaccinations on individuals is true: (vaccinations contribute to autism in children, they can cause auto-immune disorders, people often get sick immediately after getting vaccinated, some of the additives in vaccines can contribute to cancer or neurological diseases); even then, from a public health perspective, vaccinations are still often beneficial. The benefits to the general public of not getting epidemics outweigh the individual negatives. Over the course of the 20th century vaccinations have apparently helped reduce the incidence of infectious diseases such as smallpox, whooping cough, and polio. At the same time, for most individuals there seems to be very little immediate negative effects from getting vaccinated.

So what we have to do is find a reasonable balance between the severity of the epidemic threat, the effectiveness of the vaccine against the epidemic threat, and the potential harm to the individual from getting vaccinated.

At this time, for the regular seasonal flu vaccine, there is little or no evidence that the flu shot is even effective at reducing the incidence of flu. You can see a very interesting article in this month’s Atlantic magazine, titled “Does the Vaccine Matter?” (Available online at: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200911/brownlee-h1n1 ).  The years that the flu vaccine has been a good match for the seasonal flu have no difference in outcomes from the years in which the flu vaccine has been a poor match. No large scale double blind testing has ever been done. There is a widespread belief that flu shots reduce the incidence of flu, but very little evidence that this is true.

For the H1N1 swine flu vaccination (now just starting to be available) here is the situation: While the virus spreads easily, the sickness itself is so far relatively mild and most people have developed no lasting problems. At the same time, the effectiveness of the vaccine is unknown and the risk of potential harm from a new, relatively untested vaccine is higher than normal.

So it seems that for both seasonal flu and H1N1 swine flu, there is very little benefit from getting the vaccinations and very little risk incurred from not getting the vaccinations.  This is why I have been recommending that patients not get flu shots and that patients instead take other steps to build their immune systems naturally.

Aside from the lack of benefits, there are potential downsides to getting the flu vaccinations. These downsides apply to most other vaccinations as well, and that is why vaccinations should be individually evaluated for benefits and risks.  There is no effective treatment that doesn’t potentially cause some problems.

Here is a partial listing of some of the potential downsides of vaccinations:

Mercury in the form of Thimeresol is used as a preservative in many vaccines. Mercury is a known neurotoxin and can combine with other factors to induce neurological and auto-immune disorders.

If you are already sick, getting a vaccination may throw your immune system further out of balance and cause long lasting problems. Never get a vaccination when you are feeling sick. This is a particular problem with young children since their immune systems are not fully developed. Likewise, receiving multiple vaccinations at once is not a good idea. Children in this country receive far more vaccinations than in other countries with some evidence that their overall health is worse.

Introducing an infectious agent directly into the blood stream means that it is not mediated by the normal immune protections. In addition, some vaccines contain aluminum, formaldehyde and other toxic substances. These substances can cause allergic reactions that can lead to auto immune disorders in those who already have compromised health. Even non-toxic vaccine additives such as squalene or egg whites can induce allergic reactions when introduced directly into the blood.

There are many more potential downsides. Some people will develop either immediate or long term problems after getting vaccinated. Of course, most relatively healthy people will have no problems whatsoever with the vaccines.

In the case of the seasonal flu or H1N1 flu vaccinations, the risks of getting the vaccine are not balanced by the potential rewards.

The answer for other diseases or for future pandemic diseases could be different.

 

Chinese Herbal Medicine August 7, 2009

One of the most effective modalities within WholeHealth WellnessTM is the use of Chinese Herbal Medicine.  The term “Chinese Herbal Medicine” describes formulas which are made mostly from plants but can sometimes include mineral or animal products.  Depending on the herb, the roots, stems, bark, leaves, seeds, or flowers of plants both wild and cultivated may be used.  There are many hundreds of herbs and other medicinal substances that have been commonly used for almost two thousand years.  In school we learned about 400 of the most commonly used, but there are hundreds more. 

Chinese Herbal Medicine is very safe when properly applied, and usually much gentler in action than most pharmaceuticals.   When the right formula is used in the right way to correct imbalances, good results are often felt in days.  However, as with anything else, care must be taken.  For instance, a powerful purgative formula used on someone with a weak constitution would probably do more harm than good.  One of the great strengths of Chinese Herbal Medicine when properly applied is that the formula is individually fitted to the patient’s constitution as well as to their symptoms.

Herbs are generally decocted into teas or prepared in pill form.  For some conditions, they may also be used on the skin in the form of liniments, ointments or plasters.   For convenience, I mostly dispense herbs in pill form.  A few people receive bulk herbs to be prepared into teas.  Preparing herbal teas is actually the most effective way to take herbs and a way to tune the formula to a person’s very individual condition.  This is the traditional way that the formulas were prepared.   Ask to see some of the herbs we use the next time you are in the practice for an appointment.

While single herbs are sometimes used, usually an herbal formula will be composed of ten or more herbs carefully blended together to synergistically combine for very specific purposes.  One herb may be the principal herb, and other herbs may help guide that herb to specific areas of the body.  Over the two thousand year written history of Chinese Herbal Medicine some formulas have been used so often that they have been named and are commonly available in ready made pill form.   These are what we usually dispense. 

Some of these have very colorful names and poetic names.   Here are some of my favorites:

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang — Tonify the Middle, Increase the Qi Decoction

Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan — Kidney Qi Pills from the Golden Cabinet

Xiao Yao Wan — Free and Easy Wanderer Pills  

Tian Wang Bu Xin Tang — Heavenly Emperor’s Formula to Tonify the Heart

Shi Quan Da Bu Tang — Ten Flavors Great Tonification Decoction

Si Jun Zi Tang — Soup of the Four Gentlemen

Yu Ping Feng San — Jade Windscreen Powder

More on each of these and many other formulas in future postings.

 

Do Blood Pressure Medications Lead to Diabetes? August 4, 2009

Do Blood Pressure Medications Lead to Diabetes?

I saw an interesting short article about a Johns Hopkins University study the other day in the May 2009 issue of the Townsend Letter:  “Potassium Loss from Blood Pressure Drugs May Explain Higher Risk of Adult Diabetes”.  Here is a link to the article:

 http://www.jhu.edu/~gazette/2008/15dec08/15potassium.html

Basically, one of the side effects of taking diuretics over the long term to control blood pressure may be mineral imbalances and consequent creation of other health problems.  This Johns Hopkins study identified a problem with type 2 diabetes; however blood pressure medications could be creating many other problems that were not searched for in this study. 

This is yet another example of how treating one system without considering the effects on the whole system can lead to many unforeseen problems.  From our standpoint it is much better to deal with the root causes of the problem.  Stress is almost always a contributing factor in high blood pressure and Long Deep Breathing can almost always reduce stress and lower blood pressure readings.   Five minutes of Long Deep Breathing almost always produces a ten to fifteen point reduction in blood pressure readings.   With repeated practice of Long Deep Breathing, the lowered blood pressure readings become more stable; the blood pressure is permanently lowered.  And the other side effects of Long Deep Breathing are all good! 

Pharmaceuticals may sometimes be needed, but they should be used primarily in acute cases where more benign therapies have not worked.