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Acupuncture improves quality of life of patients exhausted by chemotherapy

People exhausted by chemotherapy felt better and had the energy to walk to the shops and to socialise, so their quality of life improved significantly after six sessions of acupuncture in a study conducted by Alex Molassiotis, professor of cancer and supportive care at the University of Manchester.

In this randomised placebo-controlled trial, the chemotherapy patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups to receive either (1) acupuncture or (2) acupressure or (3) sham acupressure.

The acupuncture group (1) received six 20 minute sessions spread over three weeks.

Patients in the acupressure group (2) were taught to massage the same acupuncture points.

The sham acupressure (3) patients were taught the same massage technique, but were told to massage points on not associated with energy and fatigue.

Patients receiving acupuncture (1) reported a 36% improvement in fatigue, whilst those in the acupressure group (2) improved by 19%. The sham acupressure group (3) reported a mere 0.6% improvement.

Reference: Complementary Therapies in Medicine (DOI: 10.1016/j.ctim.2006.09.009)

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Diabetes – bitter melon increases insulin secretion by 160%

Bitter melon, a delicacy, which I enjoyed so much, when I lived in China has many healing properties. It is known to lower blood sugar it is also known for its’ anti-cancer properties.

Now a team of Chinese scientists discovered that prepared in traditional way extract can increase the insulin production by 160% and has repairing effects on pancreatic ?-cells, responsible for insulin production. Good news for diabetes sufferers. But don’t necessarily expect these effects from fresh bitter melon. To have these properties the melon has to be dried and decocted (cooked) traditional way.

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Chinese herbs may ease chemotherapy

Chinese herbal medicine can protect the immune systems of breast cancer patients and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy,  a group of Cochrane Collaboration scientists said yesterday.

Scientists analysed data from seven studies involving 542 women with breast cancer.

They concluded that Chinese medicines may safely reduce the immuno-suppressive side effects of powerful anti-cancer drugs.

A number of Chinese medicinal herbal mixtures and compounds are prescribed to counteract the unwanted effects of chemotherapy.

Three of the studies showed improvements to white blood cells, key elements of the immune system. Two appeared to have had a general positive effect on quality of life.

In their paper published by the Cochrane Library, the researchers said: “The results suggest that using Chinese herbs in conjunction with chemotherapy or CHM alone may be beneficial in terms of improvements in bone marrow suppression and immune system, and may improve overall state of quality of life.”

The researchers also said further trials were needed before the effects of traditional Chinese medicines on women with breast cancer could be evaluated with any confidence.

In a separate study, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that an extract of triphala, the dried and powdered fruits of three plants, caused pancreatic tumours to die in mice.

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Acupuncture meets antibiotics – “All the doctors told us he was going to die”

Mar. 27- Two years ago, Ivan Toirac was admitted to Mercy Hospital in a coma following a drug overdose.

“All the doctors told us he was going to die, or was going to be like a vegetable for the rest of his life,” recalled his father, Arturo Toirac.

Then Patty Hutchison began working with the hospital’s doctors. Founder of Mercy’s holistic care program, she began acupuncture therapy on him.

“The first thing that happened was his kidneys, which were totally closed according to the doctors, opened up,” Arturo says. “My son is alive, talking to us and recognizes us.”

“Patty, she’s all right,” adds Ivan, his voice labored but clear.

What makes Mercy’s program unusual is that Hutchison practices on site, integrating her primary treatments — acupuncture, homeopathy and cupping — with that of the hospital’s 700 doctors.

“There is not just one way of doing things . . . we integrate,” Hutchison says. “If you need an antibiotic, that is fine. But after you take the antibiotic, there are probiotics to put the intestinal flora back in so you don’t catch something else.”

The medical community is starting to take notice.

“It’s growing because our medical knowledge only takes us so far,” says Dr. Hugo Gonzalez, chief medical officer for Sister Emmanuel Hospital, a Coconut Grove facility that treats long-term care patients, in stays of 25 days or more. “Holistic offers an additional way to help people.”

The University of Miami’s medical school, for example, has provided alternative medical care through its Complementary Medicine Program for a decade. The program is housed in a building on the grounds of the Jackson Memorial Hospital campus.

“It’s an important program for patients,” says Dr. Pascal Goldschmidt, dean of the UM’s Miller School of Medicine.

“With the patient population I work with . . . cancer therapy . . . Patty works on relaxation and to ease nausea and some of the vomiting,” says registered nurse Karen Stephenson, oncology clinical specialist coordinator at Mercy.

Hutchison says she has treated approximately 300 patients since 2005. Each patient is visited an average of five times. Doctors are coming along, too. “It’s tough to accept something new; most doctors are not educated about this in medical school. I would like to see it grow. It’s a good tool to have here,” Stephenson says.

Teaching hospitals, such as UM’s medical school, now require courses in complementary alternative medicine (CAM). In fact, 78 percent of medical schools required courses in CAM in 2004, up from 26 percent in 2001, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Some studies on acupuncture have shown promise (…) There is no evidence, however, that acupuncture can be directly linked to bringing someone like Ivan Toirac out of a coma, says substance abuse expert Dr. Lauren Williams, assistant professor of psychiatry for the University of Miami.

“Acupuncture has been used in the treatment of addiction, but it’s always been an adjunct to psychosocial programs. Proponents say acupuncture works for them, but it’s not mainstream and not a stand-alone treatment by any means,” Williams says.

“Cancer, in particular, is a multidisciplinary disease,” says Dr. Jorge Antunez De Mayolo, a hematologist oncologist at Mercy. “It requires multiple medical specialties to handle each aspect. Patty does Oriental medicines, helps with massage, acupuncture, the control of pain. Physical therapists help us keep patients ambulatory. Nutritionists regulate caloric intake to help patients overcome the side effects of medicines. Psychologists help with coping. None of us has a predominant role.”

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A study: acupuncture and massage significantly improve the well-being of cancer patients

A new Perth study has found acupuncture and massage significantly improve the well-being of cancer patients.

More than 500 patients in the study began using complementary treatments in addition to traditional medicine like chemotherapy and morphine over a 17-month period.

The researchers at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital found the therapies relieved physical symptoms such as nausea and pain, while improving the patient’s overall quality of life.

The director of the Cancer Support Centre, David Joske, says the treatments worked extremely well but more research needs to be done “to start to ask how can we get the best out of these two worlds which in the past really have been mutually exclusive in our society”.

He says he hopes the study gives greater credibility to the benefits of complementary medicine.

source: www.abc.net.au