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The Lupus Puzzle

By Sara Calabro

The FDA last week approved the first new drug for lupus in over 50 years.

This is potentially great news for lupus patients, who have not seen an effective treatment advance since steroids and an antimalarial drug were cleared for the disease in 1955.

However, the time it took to get even this far—the new drug, Benlysta, has many imperfections—highlights the inherent challenge of treating chronic, systemic diseases within the biomedical paradigm. Keep reading

Musician Kristin Hersh Returns from Bipolar

By Sara Calabro

Kristin Hersh is the founder, lead singer and guitarist for the popular 1980s rock band Throwing Muses. In addition to her continued work with Throwing Muses, Hersh performs with her other band, 50FOOTWAVE, and as a solo artist. Her latest album, Crooked, is available as a book, CD and app. She also is the author of Rat Girl, a memoir released last year that chronicles the early stages of Hersh’s 20-year battle with bipolar disorder.

After two decades of trying everything from lithium to vitamins to exercise to just succumbing to her symptoms, Hersh had nearly given up on hopes of becoming well. Then she found acupuncture.
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Mind-Body Split Fatigue

By Sara Calabro

Study findings released last week are intensifying the debate over the relationship between emotions and physical health. The new research found that psychotherapy and exercise can “moderately improve outcomes” for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

This is a feather in the cap for people who think CFS is a stress-related, psychological condition. It’s a blow to patients who are awaiting confirmation that CFS is viral in nature, potentially treatable with antiretroviral drugs. And it highlights the ever-growing need for therapies like acupuncture, which are premised on the dynamic interplay between emotions and physical health, to become better understood and more accessible. Keep reading

Hormone Regulation Therapy

By Sara Calabro

HRT is hormone replacement therapy. Acupuncture is hormone regulation therapy—which, in light of last week’s health headlines, is clearly a better option for treating menopause symptoms.

Big news came out of the U.K., where a large study of over one million postmenopausal women took place. The findings, reported on Friday, show that women who took HRT in the early stages of menopause were at higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who took it five or more years after menopause began.

This is a big deal because popular belief was that younger women who began HRT earlier into menopause had little risk of developing side effects. In other words, the women who were thought to be at the lowest risk were found to be at the highest. Keep reading

Needles Trump Butts

By Sara Calabro

The American Lung Association recently released its State of Tobacco Control 2010 report—and the news is not good.

According to the report, most states are “failing miserably when it comes to combating tobacco-caused disease.”

Instead of directing anti-smoking funds toward tobacco regulation, prevention and wellness, and smoke-free laws, most states used the money for general budget deficits. This is ethically and economically foolish, as tobacco-related illnesses and secondhand smoke exposure cost us billions of dollars every year.

The need is greater now than ever for an effective way to help people quit smoking. Acupuncture can help—but there’s a caveat. Keep reading

Think Twice Before IBS Antibiotic

By Sara Calabro

What does irritable bowel syndrome have in common with ear infections and sore throats? All three now represent tempting opportunities for doctors to unnecessarily—and often dangerously—put people on antibiotics.

New research, published last week in The New England Journal of Medicine, shows that a two-week course of antibiotics helped IBS symptoms in 41 percent of patients. Although the findings are neither impressive (30 percent got better with placebo), comprehensive (patients with constipation were not included), nor unbiased (the studies were sponsored by Salix Pharmaceuticals, the drug’s maker), they provide doctors, finally, with something to offer patients.

IBS has proven especially tough for mainstream medicine to gets its arms around. Stress is known to play a significant role, leading many doctors to prescribe anxiety or depression drugs, but a clear physiological explanation remains elusive within biomedical parameters.

Acupuncture, because it considers the interdependent relationships of anatomical structures and how they’re affected by emotional and environmental factors, is a more sensible approach than medication for IBS. Keep reading

Seasonal Affective Not a Disorder

By Sara Calabro

Holidays, whether fun or stressful, are nothing if not distracting. With them now past, people may notice the return of emotional symptoms that surfaced just before the holiday season began. The biomedical community calls this SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, a condition that describes mood shifts associated with changing seasons.

Acupuncturists call it normal. Keep reading

The Deal with Acupuncture for Weight Loss

By Sara Calabro

From diets and support groups to surgically implanted devices, weight-loss solutions abound—and yet consistently leave something to be desired.

For every Weight Watchers success story there’s a case of backfire, in which Points counting becomes so tedious and joyless that it only increases cravings for off-the-charts foods. The same Lap-Band that improves portion control in one person may be nothing but an ineffective and unnecessary surgical procedure for another.

Different weight-loss methods produce unpredictable outcomes because we all gain weight, and struggle to lose it, for different reasons.

Acupuncture by nature is multi-pronged in its approach—it simultaneously addresses physiological and emotional imbalances—making it an especially suitable therapy for complex conditions that are difficult to isolate.

And so, The $64,000 Question: Can acupuncture really help with weight loss? Keep reading

Help for Veterans with PTSD

By Sara Calabro

Acupuncture is an ideal remedy for what a recent CNN article calls a “cookie-cutter” approach to addressing the hidden wounds experienced by many veterans and active military personnel.

The military, in light of the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) among soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been criticized for its handling of non-physical war injuries.

Reportedly, physically wounded soldiers are offered expedient medical care that includes thorough rehabilitation, while those with less visible symptoms—depression, memory loss, panic attacks, and poor concentration, among others—are often left in the lurch.

Acupuncture, because it excels at addressing these more ambiguous, multi-faceted conditions, has a rightful place in the treatment of PTSD in veterans. Keep reading