Dr. Darshan S. Khalsa's Blog

THOUGHTS ON WHOLEHEALTH WELLNESS…..VISIT US AT WWW.KHALSAMEDICINE.COM TO LEARN MORE

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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BATTLEFIELD ACUPUNCTURE AND THE ARC OF ACCEPTANCE September 5, 2010

My previous blog post was about a pain reduction technique  called Battlefield Acupuncture.  At Khalsa Integrative Medicine we utilize both the beginning and the advanced Battlefield Acupuncture techniques and the pain reduction results have been outstanding! I believe that this technique will move much closer to mainstream acceptance within the next few years.

New ideas or medical therapies typically go through a three-step process as they move into mainstream acceptance.

The first step is to be ignored; the second step is strong opposition from mainstream medicine, and the third step is acceptance.

In the first step, therapies are often ignored when they don’t fit into the mainstream ways of thinking (It couldn’t possibly work, so why bother investigating?)

In the second step, there is some acceptance or success with the new idea, so the entrenched way of thinking begins to strongly oppose the idea. (The idea couldn’t possibly work and here are all the reasons why it couldn’t possibly work, the results must be phony, etc…, etc…)

The third step begins when there is enough success with the new idea or therapy that people many people want to use it regardless of whether it fits into mainstream medical thought. (We know it works, even if we don’t yet understand all the reasons why it works.)

An article last week in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes about Battlefield Acupuncture illustrates this three-step process very well.

Here’s the link:  http://www.stripes.com/military-turns-to-acupuncture-as-alternative-to-prescription-painkillers-1.116167

Here’s some of the article:

“As the number of prescriptions for opiate painkillers skyrockets — and more troops admit abusing those drugs — the military has been forced to look beyond conventional ways to treat pain.

“This is a nationwide problem,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Thomas, assistant Army surgeon general. “We’ve got a culture of a pill for every ill.”

In June, the Army surgeon general released a report addressing the lack of a comprehensive pain-management strategy, suggesting alternative treatments including meditation and yoga.

Even though some in the medical field maintain that acupuncture has never been proved effective, the Air Force sees it as one of the more promising alternatives to combat pain.”

The article goes on to quote many patients and doctors saying what great results they are getting with alternative techniques in general and Battlefield Acupuncture in particular, and other doctors saying it can’t possibly work and therefore it doesn’t work.

It looks like we are somewhere between steps two and three in the arc of acceptance—the technique has had enough success that it is no longer ignored, and it is now accepted by some and strongly rejected by others.

Over the years, I have seen the same arc occur with acupuncture in general, organic foods, yoga, meditation, herbal medicine, energetic medicine, kinesiology, and many other modalities.  This gradual acceptance is part of the process we go through individually and collectively when we are exposed to new ideas.

I am very gratified to see such a conservative and traditional institution as the military begin to embrace alternative therapies.  In this the military is beginning to exemplify the highest form of conservatism:  a practical examination of what works and what doesn’t work.  Then, if it works let’s use it more, if it doesn’t work let’s try something else.

 

PAIN, SUFFERING, AND THE ROAD BACK TO HEALTH July 23, 2010

Pain is one of the major reasons that people seek medical attention, and physical pain is responsible for about 25% of patient visits to our practice.  Pain is very mysterious… sometimes a small stimulus can lead to great pain and likewise, very simple treatments can often lead to great pain reduction.

For physical pain, I often use a technique called “Battlefield Acupuncture”; we insert small gold plated needles into the outer ears and pain intensity usually drops dramatically in a matter of minutes. We see this happening over and over again, even with people who have been in pain for months or years….how can this possibly work?  Read on for our explanation…

What is pain?  We know it when we feel it.   Pain is often defined as an unpleasant sensory or emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.  In a larger sense, pain can include emotional suffering not specifically tied to tissue damage, but to damage of any sort.  Pain may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable.  Duration and frequency of occurrence can increase our feelings of pain or suffering.

Pain can serve a very useful purpose to motivate us to withdraw from damaging or potentially damaging situations, protect ourselves while healing occurs, and to avoid the causes of pain in the future. Most pain resolves promptly once the painful stimulus is removed and the body/mind has healed, but sometimes pain persists despite removal of the stimulus and apparent healing of the body; and sometimes pain arises in the absence of any detectable cause.

The Western medical view is that physical pain is initiated by stimulation of nociceptors in the peripheral nervous system, or by damage/malfunction of the peripheral or central nervous systems. Traditional Chinese Medicine and other forms of Energy Medicine take a very different view:  We view pain as being primarily caused by a blockage of energy. There is an energetic network underlying our physical bodies. When this flow of energy is blocked or constricted for any reason, the body/mind senses this as pain. This applies to emotional suffering as well as physical pain.   (A classic statement of this concept for emotional pain is that attachment leads to suffering, but that is a topic for another day.)

On a physical level, pain causes our muscles to tighten, which in turn compresses the nerves and decreases blood flow.  The nerve compression can increase the feeling of pain, while the reduction in blood flow prevents tissue healing.  Pain caused by trauma is a little different since there is also an inflammatory component; in that case the swollen tissues can also reduce blood flow and compress the nerve endings.

Whatever the cause, reducing or eliminating the energy blockages reduces pain and speeds healing by increasing blood flow.  Emotional pain is more complicated, but restoring energy flow results in much the same results and reduces emotional suffering as well.

We use many techniques to remove blockages and restore energy flow in our practice: body acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy, electrical stimulation, yogic breathing, ear acupuncture,  and more.  We try to select the specific modalities that will result in the most rapid improvement for each individual.  For physical pain, I like Battlefield Acupuncture because of the often immediate and dramatic pain reduction it brings….please see our previous blog post about Battlefield Acupuncture for more specific information about this wonderful technique.

While no medical treatment works on everyone all the time, it seems clear to me that people are enduring far more pain and suffering than they need to.  Simple acupuncture techniques that restore energy flow can often dramatically reduce pain and speed recovery times.  Our own clinical results and twenty-five centuries of acupuncture history have demonstrated this over and over.