TCM and Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that disrupts normal function of the epithelial cells in the body.  Epithelial cells line the passageways of many of our vital organs, including the lungs, liver, kidneys, reproductive system and the skin. Those who have cystic fibrosis have a defective gene that impairs epithelial cell function. This can lead to a buildup of sticky mucus throughout the body that may eventually lead to lung damage and chronic coughing, affecting how patients with cystic fibrosis breathe and filter air, digest their food and absorb the nutrients from that food. In the United States alone, there are nearly 12 million people who suffer from this disease. Unfortunately, there is no known cure and most of those affected with the disease only live into their 20s and 30s. Current modern medicine treatments focus on increasing the quality of life by managing symptoms. continue reading »

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Late Summer is a Season All Its Own

 

We have arrived in what Traditional Chinese Medicine terms the season of “Late Summer.”  Here in southern New England, this begins on some unscheduled moment in August, when the winds shift, the humidity clears, and the temperature veers away from the torpid high numbers.  We breathe more easily, and sleep more soundly. We turn our smiling faces again to the afternoon sun, no longer in fear of scorching.

 

The Spleen system, along with its pair the Stomach, is now in control.  The red hot Fire element of the summer’s heat fades into the warm golden glow of the Earth.  Heavier vegetables and fruits ripen, full of sweet flavors which easily charge our bodies with Qi after quick digestion.  This thick density of flesh and easy energy then nourishes our muscles, and builds our immune system against the colder months to come.

 

The Earth is our mother, she grounds and nurtures us.   The harvest fills us with summer’s stored energies, strengthening our bodies; memories from our active summer will entertain for months.  With a hot squash soup and a fresh bread loaf, we are cared for, supported, sustained, sated, and loved.   

 

A wonderful season for activity, exercising now will not only strengthen our muscles, but pump the lymph to clean our bodies.  Too much inactivity now will add fat to our frames and blood, slowing our metabolisms, contributing to ill health through wintertime.

 

The Spleen is in charge of our digestion, and so loves foods that are easily digested: cooked foods: soups, stews, steamed vegetables.  These foods give us quicker energy, or Qi, are often high in carbohydrates, and tend to be earth toned: winter squashes, potato, most grains, seeds, salmon & sardines, poultry & beef, dates & figs.  Other vegetables in full ripeness now also make the list, including eggplant, cucumber, and watercress.

                        

What’s the best way to nourish your Spleen/Stomach system and Earth element?  Get outside and walk. The Chinese suggest walking 1000 steps after each meal to maintain your health.  Consider getting in the habit of an after dinner neighborhood stroll, or a midday lunch break walk in the sun.  Walk with a friend or loved one, and enjoy your time. Joy is the emotion of the season, and the brain its organ, so stop overthinking, let the details go, and appreciate all that’s around you: the beauty, the bounty, the sunshine, and those you love.

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Acupuncture and Autoimmune Diseases

acupuncture for autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases are a collective group of disorders that plague nearly 50 million people in the United States today. When a person suffers from an autoimmune disease it means their own immune system is attacking the body and altering or destroying the tissues. Autoimmune diseases include things like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, pernicious anemia, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel disease and Parkinson’s disease. continue reading »

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Five Reasons to Get Acupuncture for Low Back Pain

Statistics show eight out of 10 people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50 percent. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known in the United States, people are too sedentary and this leads to excess weight gain that can create added pressure on the body, especially the low back. continue reading »

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3 Acupressure Points for Low Back Pain

Statistics show that almost eight out of 10 people experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50 percent. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. This can also be attributed to the fact that many people suffer from low-grade dehydration because they don’t drink enough water and they don’t ingest enough healthy fats that keep the muscles and tendons loose. It is also very well known that in the United States, people are too sedentary, and this leads to excess weight gain that can create added pressure on the body, especially the low back. continue reading »

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Medicare to Cover Acupuncture in Chronic Low Back Pain Study

With the recent opioid epidemic outcry, and associated legislation, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently approved funding  for large-scale trials to evaluate effectiveness, and develop strategies to best implement, acupuncture treatment of older adults (65 years and older) with chronic low back pain.

On July 15, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed covering acupuncture for Medicare patients with chronic low back pain who are enrolled participants either in clinical trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or in CMS-approved studies.  Acupuncture currently is not covered by Medicare.

Over the last couple of decades, numerous studies have been applied to test the efficacy of acupuncture int treating chronic pain, and low back pain in particular.  The evidence is very favorable.  CMS recognized that the evidence base for acupuncture has grown in recent years, but they still have questions.  Under the proposed decision, CMS would continue its collaboration with NIH to further develop evidence to inform future Medicare coverage determinations for acupuncture treatment for beneficiaries with chronic low back pain.  Chronic low back pain impacts innumerable Americans, including Medicare and Medicaid patients, and is a leading reason for opioid prescriptions.

We are on the road for Medicare to cover acupuncture, at least for chronic low back pain.  Acupuncture is currently used by the military, on its bases, and in war zones, though they do not yet insure for it.  The Veteran’s Association now covers acupuncture effective for veterans who suffer from:

  1. Pain associated with an injury or illness
  2. Nausea and vomiting after an operation
  3. Nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy
  4. Knee pain from osteoarthritis
  5. Low back pain
  6. Depression or other mental health concerns
  7. Substance dependency

As a nation, we are beginning to accept that this ancient technique can have far reaching effects for our health.  As usual, insurance lags behind, but the tide is turning.  Numerous insurance companies offer acupuncture coverage, though often only with higher end plans.  More is covered every day.

Here at Acupuncture & Herbal Answers, we are a provider for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Rhode Island, through which we can submit to all other Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies, including our Federal program.  We also offer a standard HICF form to our patients who are covered by other companies.  We hope to soon be able to offer direct coverage for our veterans.

Check with your insurance company to see if you are covered, how many yearly visits are allowed, and what your copay is: you may be delightfully surprised to see how affordable it is for you.

 

https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/nca-tracking-sheet.aspx?NCAId=295

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3 AcuPoints for Anxiety

One of the most wonderful things about being an acupuncturist is the ability to stimulate points on my own body when I need to. If I get a headache, or feel a cold coming on, I can always hop up on my table for a quick tune-up with some needles. Even when I’m not at the office, the magic of acupuncture can still work for me – as long as I know where the points are and what they do, I can press on them and get results. continue reading »

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Seven Ways to Set and Achieve Your Goals

No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, setting goals is one way to help you get there. Often, when people have no goals, they lack motivation, focus and direction.  Setting goals also provides a benchmark to determine whether or not you are succeeding. But how do you set goals if you’ve never done so before? Or what if you have set goals in the past, but you didn’t achieve them? Do you just give up and tell yourself that goal setting doesn’t work? That’s one option, but let’s put things into perspective. continue reading »

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4 Tips for an Energizing, Joyful Summer

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season is associated with one of the elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Perhaps unsurprisingly, summertime is associated with the element fire. Fire represents maximum activity. In nature, everything is at its peak growth during the summer, so TCM sees our energy as its most active and exuberant. Summer is the time of year with the most yang energy, which is all about excitement and assertiveness. continue reading »

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Take Action Now to Require Insurance to Cover Acupuncture!

Recent attention on the Opioid Crisis has highlighted the incredible numbers of people suffering from chronic pain.  Changes in national and state laws are being made.  Here in Rhode Island, we are nearing votes on bills in our general assembly:

http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText19/SenateText19/S0068.pdf

http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText19/HouseText19/H5120.pdf

These would require insurance companies pay for non-opioid pain treatments including acupuncture, massage therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy.  If you value acupuncture, and wish to assure its coverage by your health insurance, please consider contacting one or more of our state senators or representatives.  Here are some easy ways, including a sample letter from our Rhode Island Society of Acupuncture:

It’s time to take action.

The bills requiring insurance coverage for acupuncture and other non-opioid treatment modalities are at a crossroads.  We need your help.  Please copy and past this form letter below, modify it to personalize, and send to the Representatives and Senators on this list ASAP.

Urge your friends, and family to do the same!

House Bill H5120

The Honorable Nicholas A. Mattiello, Speaker of the House of Representatives     Rep-mattiello@rilegislature.gov
The Honorable Joseph M. McNamara, Chairman of House HEW                                rep-mcnamara@rilegislature.gov
The Honorable Michael A. Morin, Primary Sponsor of 2019 H5120                           rep-morin@rilegislature.gov

Senate Bill S0068

The Honorable Dominick J. Ruggerio, President of the Senate          sen-ruggerio@rilegislature.gov
The Honorable Joshua Miller, Chairman of Senate HHS                     sen-miller@rilegislature.gov
The Honorable Roger A. Picard, Primary Sponsor of 2019 S0068     sen-picard@rilegislature.gov

The fate of this legislation will be decided in the next week or two, so time is of the essence!  The suggested email to these House and Senate leaders is below:

Please title the email: “Please Support the Non-Opioid Pain Treatment Bill (bill # – insert H5120 or S0068)”

Dear (insert name of legislator)

My name is (insert name). I am writing to request your support for bill # – (insert H5120 or S0068).  This legislation is important because it will help address the opioid crisis by requiring that the safe, conservative, non-opioid pain treatments of massage therapy, acupuncture, occupational therapy, and physical therapy are fully covered by insurance.  Patients must have affordable access to all these therapies to prevent further individuals from becoming addicted to prescription opioids.

This bill is an issue of fairness.  Rhode Islanders of all financial means deserve fuller access to non-opioid pain treatments.  Opioid deaths in the United States continue to increase.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), opioid prescriptions were involved in more than 35% of all opioid related deaths in 2017.1
A research study from Washington State found that patients using non-opioid pain treatments had lower insurance costs than those patients not using such treatments. (If you can reference an insurance claim with costs of prescription or treatment related to opioid use, put your example here).

In 2016, the CDC issued guidelines on chronic pain that recommended that “nonpharmacologic therapy and nonopioid pharmacologic therapy are preferred for chronic pain”3 and that non-opioid therapies are less expensive than opioids due in part to the high costs of opioid addiction and overdose.  Importantly, the Governor’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force states “It’s time to change how we treat pain—opioids don’t need to be the first line of defense”.4

(Insert personal story here if applicable)

By voting to pass this bill, you will increase access to better healthcare overall and will help reduce the number of addictions and deaths resulting from opioid prescription use.

Thank you for your support!
(Your name and address)

https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/prescribing.htmld
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110809/
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6501e1.htm.
4
 https://preventoverdoseri.org/our-action-plan/.

 
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