Warning Signs and Prevention

I had another topic planned for this week's blog, but I decided to write about strokes and warning signs. My fellow intern had a stroke this week during our clinic shift at the Lombard campus clinic on Monday afternoon. She was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital and spent 2-3 days in the ICU unit and is now in a rehabilitation center. She is doing much better but the stroke affected the left side of her body.

Signs of Stroke

Even when stroke symptoms only last a few minutes, you should get immediate help. Time is of the essence. Call 911 or rush the person to your local emergency room if they experience any of the following 5 warning signs of stroke:

  1. Sudden confusion or difficulty speaking and understanding;
  2. Sudden numbness or weakness in face, arm or leg (usually on one side);
  3. Sudden blurred vision or trouble seeing with one or both eyes;
  4. Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination;
  5. Sudden severe or unusual headache with no known cause.

Image depicting stroke symptoms
Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T.

Although these 5 warning signs of stroke are the most common, the latest research shows that signs of stroke for a woman can also include the following stroke symptoms:

  • Sudden pain in face, chest, arm or leg;
  • Fainting, seizure or an accidental fall;
  • Sudden feelings of tiredness or nausea;
  • Sudden pounding or racing heartbeat;
  • Sudden hiccups or shortness of breath.

One-third of all stroke victims die and many of the rest end up with major disabilities.

Prevention of Stroke

It's estimated that 80% of all strokes can be prevented according to the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Those are really good odds. So it only makes good sense to structure your life for stroke prevention, especially if you have family history of strokes and hypertension.

  • Image of CT scan of headEat a healthy diet.
  • Monitor and reduce your blood pressure, if you have high blood pressure.
  • Prevent diabetes. Since diabetes and high blood sugar raise your chances of having a stroke, use glycemic index guidelines to help you manage blood sugar levels.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Manage your triglycerides. Elevated triglycerides raise your risk of stroke. Have yours checked and if they're high, follow a diet to lower triglycerides naturally.
  • Keep your cholesterol low. High cholesterol can increase your odds of having a stroke. If yours is higher than normal, it's important to lower cholesterol naturally.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight also raises your risk of strokes.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Lower your stress level.
  • Incorporate exercise into your life style--Tai Qi, Qi Gong, yoga, walking, etc.

I would like to dedicate this blog to my fellow intern and her family. We pray for her speedy recovery. Her body may be broken but her spirit is strong.

Thank you for your continued support of the AOM blog. Have a great week!

Statistics and stroke information cited from livestrong.com, Mayo Clinic, American Heart Association, and American Stroke Association, and class notes.

NUHS AOM Students First Walk for Acupuncture

First, I would like to say welcome back students and faculty at NUHS. I had a wonderful two weeks break. At the end of this trimester, I will graduate with my master's degree in acupuncture. I will still be around campus, though, since I officially dual-enrolled this trimester in the naturopathic medicine program and will be working on second doctorate at Midwestern University in Downers Grove starting in winter quarter.

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This week's blog is about the first Illinois Walk for Acupuncture sponsored by the Illinois Association of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ILaaom).  ILaaom is Illinois' oldest professional organization representing licensed acupuncturists and students, along with oriental medical schools and acupuncture-related businesses. It is registered with the State of Illinois as a nonprofit corporation. ILaaom was formed in 1983 (as the Illinois State Acupuncture Association) to be the unifying force for Illinois acupuncturists to uphold ethical and well-regulated standards of practice and to lobby for legislation to advance the profession. ILaaom acknowledges and respects all traditions of acupuncture and oriental medicine, and believes that cooperation and strength among practitioners and supporters will ensure that this ancient medical art will retain its integrity and achieve the recognition and legal status to which it is entitled, thus enhancing the quality of health care for people in Illinois.

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The first Illinois walk for acupuncture was held this past Saturday, September 7th from 9am to 12pm in downtown Chicago along our beautiful lakefront. We had a great turnout. They coined the phrase "Move your Qi - Walk for Acupuncture." Everyone had a great time!

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The walk helped raised money to continue our work of increasing awareness of the benefits of acupuncture, advancing and defending the practice of acupuncture in Illinois, and improving services and support for practitioners. ILaaom will be having future walks and events. You can visit their website: Support Acupuncture.

A Big Thanks to NUHS students, friends, and family who were able to attend the event.

Thank you for your continued support of the AOM blog! Have a great week!

Herbal Teas - A Healthier Alternative

I made the switch from coffee to tea almost 2 years ago, but I always preferred tea to coffee. I believe that herbal teas do have powerful healing factors to help us stay healthy.  

Herbal teas are specially blended teas that have medicinal properties to maintain health and help prevent illness. In addition, herbal teas are caffeine free. I read several journal articles and studies that support research that the flavonoids are the key health-promoting ingredient in tea. These polyphenol antioxidants are present in many foods and plants, including tealeaves, and have been found to help prevent cell damage. Recent research suggests that teas may protect against heart disease and many types of cancer.

I have three favorite herbal teas that I want to share with you today.

Green Tea

2013-08-05_greentea _100Green tea's antioxidants, called catechins, scavenge for free radicals that can damage DNA and contribute to cancer, blood clots, and atherosclerosis. There is a lot of research about green tea, mostly more lab studies and epidemiological studies. The tea is "green" because of its minimal processing--its leaves are withered and steamed, not fermented like black and oolong teas--and its unique catechins, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), are more concentrated. I personally drink green tea at least 3-4x a week.

Black Tea

2013-08-05_blackteaBlack tea is a product made from the Camellia Sinensis plant. The aged leaves and stems are used to make medicine. Green tea, which is made from fresh leaves of the same plant, has some different properties. According to my research, black tea is used for improving mental alertness as well as learning, memory and information processing skills. I came across some interesting studies that say black tea has been used to help treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease, and it also contains antioxidants and other substances that might help protect the heart and blood vessels. I usually drink black tea 1-2x a week.

White Tea

2013-08-05_whiteteaLike black and green tea, white tea is also derived from Camellia Sinensis. Thus, white tea shares many of the same chemical properties and health effects of tea. However, white tea contains the most antioxidants. The catechins, a group of polyphenol antioxidants found in white tea, have been found to reduce cholesterol, decrease blood pressure, and improve the function of blood vessels, thereby decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. I also read a study that mentioned that white tea has been shown to help antibacterial and antiviral action, but also help with anti-inflammatory properties to help potentially reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. I drink white tea 2x a week as well.

Overall, I enjoy all the three teas. I also drink chamomile and ginger teas. Instead of Starbucks, there are some great alternative teashops like Bello Teas in Downers Grove and Adagio Teas in Naperville. I highly recommend them both.

Brewing Tips: Tap water affects the taste of tea. It is best to use fresh filtered water. To extract the most beneficial compounds from the tealeaves or bags, let them steep for three to five minutes. It is best to drink tea unsweetened and without milk, which can minimize some of the health benefits. Forgo the sugar and try instead honey, stevia products, or a stick of cinnamon.

Thank you for your continued support for AOM blog! Happy Studying! Happy Break! I'll see you again in September!

TBI and Acupuncture

Acupuncture can be used as complementary treatment for stroke, head injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I am currently treating a 29-year-old Marine veteran who suffered a stroke and a traumatic brain injury in 2006.

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While there is no definite evidence that acupuncture treatments can cure severe brain injuries, studies and clinical experience demonstrate that victims of brain injury and stroke have a higher chance of recovery and rehabilitation if acupuncture treatment is used soon after the injury.

My patient case is very complex and unique. His acupuncture treatment focus is on his brain injury, stroke and PTSD. His main objective is to bring back feeling and function to his body, help with vision, speech impairments due to apraxia, spasticity (uncontrolled movements) in both his hands, and regulate stress and anxiety.

His TCM DX (diagnosis) is shen disturbance with trauma bi. His treatment strategy is to calm the shen and relieve bi pain. I use scalp acupuncture, but I also incorporate Tui Na (Chinese massage) and Sotai. Sotai is a systematic form of exercise using active and passive exercises. It is similar to kinesiology, but the key to Sotai is correct breathing and a natural balancing of one's weight while moving. Sotai treatments are often immediately effective in reducing the effects of the stress on one's body.

2013-07-30_sotai _footEach time he comes in for treatment he responds well overall. His wife has seen the improvement in his conditions over the past 9 months at our Lombard clinic. His progress has been slow and steady, but significant. He also receives chiropractic treatment, speech therapy, cold laser therapy, massage, equestrian therapy, and intense physical therapy. His motto continues to be Semper Fi!

It is an honor and a privilege to treat him. His dedication and determination is inspiring to me and those around him.

Thank you for your continued support of the AOM blog! Have a great week!

Graduating Senior Interview - Meet Lauren Warner

2013-07-23_laurenQ: Why did you decide to come to National University of Health Sciences and dual enroll in both chiropractic and acupuncture?

A: I majored in mass communication and nutrition in undergrad at Miami, and when I graduated, I ended up working in the advertising industry for 4.5 years. It was a great experience, but I really wanted to be involved with health care and wanted to help people on a day-to-day basis. My father is a chiropractor and I've seen what a great influence he's had on his patients and their well-being over the years. I chose NUHS because of the well-rounded curriculum and evidence-based practice program. In my 4th trimester of the DC program, I decided to try acupuncture in the clinic to see what I thought about it, just in case I was going to recommend it to patients in the future. I ended up loving it so much I decided to pursue my master's degree in acupuncture.

Q: What are the pros and cons of dual enrollment?

A: Being dual-enrolled was great because the acupuncture classes are at night, so I was able to do both programs full-time without having to slow down. It was also nice when studying to be able to approach a condition from a western and eastern medicine standpoint. Both chiropractic and acupuncture are awesome treatments on their own, but they are so complementary with each other that it's very beneficial for the patients to have a practitioner that can do both. The downside of being dual-enrolled is that it can be exhausting and it's easy to get burned out. Since I chose to stay full-time with both programs, there were multiple 14-hour days in there that really kicked my butt.  

Q: What are the pros and cons of AOM clinic and DC clinic?

A: The pros are that you get to see a variety of patients and get to use both eastern and western treatments. The clinic experience has been great on both sides, and the clinicians are awesome and have really given me the guidance I needed. The AOM clinic has allowed me to work with veterans here in Lombard and work in a hospital atmosphere downtown as well. However, it can be frustrating, because even as a dual-enrolled student I still had to treat an AOM patient with acupuncture and a DC patient with chiropractic, and I couldn't combine them in the same visit because they are separate shifts and are overseen by separate clinicians. But it's still good experience because it gives me an idea of how I'll operate when I have my own practice.

Q: Where do you see the future of integrative medicine?

A: I think more and more patients are going to be searching for a doctor or health care practice that can provide them with a variety of treatment strategies instead of a single option. I think patients can only benefit from having a plethora of resources available to them that address them as a whole person and take into account all aspects of their lifestyle. Students should really read up on Andrew Weil, MD, who has put out some great material regarding the importance of integrative medicine. A recent article described his treatment strategy as "not being wedded to a particular dogma, western or eastern, only to the get-the-patient-better philosophy," which is the way all practitioners should think.

Q: What are your future plans?

A: I will be opening my own practice in Indiana after I graduate in August. I'll be working out of the same office as my soon-to-be husband, who is also an NUHS graduate, so it will be nice to have a National colleague to bounce ideas off of. He does a lot of ART/DNS/MacKenzie work, where I will focus more on acupuncture, so we'll have a variety of treatment options for our patients. I'd love to get in part-time with a hospital in the area after a few years of private practice, as well as focus on using my advertising background to work with national and state organizations to promote CAM therapies.

A BIG thanks to Lauren! We wish her the best in her future endeavors and upcoming wedding in August.

Thank you for your continued support in the AOM blog!  Have a great week as we count down to finals and graduation.