Friday, August 28, 2009

Western Science and Acupuncture

According to an article in today's US NEWS & WORLD REPORT, Western science is beginning to understand (at least in terms they can understand) how acupuncture works. The story is actually about a study coming out in the September issue of NeuroImage where positron emission tomography scans of the brain showed changes caused by acupuncture.

This latest study showed that acupuncture increases the binding availability of mu-opioid receptors in regions of the brain that process and weaken pain signal, in other words it reduces pain. Western medicine continues to try and squeeze that square peg of acupuncture into their round hole of science to try and understand how it works. The fact that it's been used by billions of people for 5,000 years doesn't carry any weight with Western medicine.

They're slowing coming along and accepting that acupuncture does work. Better late than never.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Modern Medicine Changes Its Mind ... Again

You've heard the same old story over and over again. One day Modern Medicine says you should eat X or Y and the next day the medical advice is the exact opposite. This time the medical merry-go-round concerns your appendix. About 1 in 20 people have their appendix removed and doctors have said for decades that it was a useless organ, a leftover from our earliest ancestors.

"Maybe it's time to correct the textbooks" according to researcher William Parker, an immunologist at Duke University Medical Center. Along with his colleges they recently suggested that the appendix serves as a warehouse for good bacteria, waiting to repopulate our digestive tract after diarrhea and other illnesses. Sounds like a pretty useful purpose to me.

The research was published in this month's issue of Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cost of Western Medicine

What does it say about the cost of mainstream medicine in America today when even your insurance company wants you to go overseas for surgery? Today the four largest insurers in our country covering nearly 100 million people either have pilot programs offering overseas travel or they've already explored the option.

The Deloitte Center or Health Solutions projects that 1.6 million Americans will make medical tourism trips in 2010, more than double the 750,000 who made trips in 2007. The reason is simple: price. Savings can be 50% to 90% on things like heart bypass surgery or knee replacement surgery.

Best of all, the foreign competition is forcing some doctors and hospitals here at home to reduce prices to compete with medical tourism.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Divorce Health Scars

Half of the marriages in America end in divorce and that's bad news for the health of those involved. A Chicago study found that divorced people have 20% more chronic illnesses such as cancer than those who never marry. The figure drops to 12% for those who are able to remarry. The rate for those couples who stay married is the same for those who never marry.

The study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, involved 8,652 people aged 51 to 61.

It should be noted that people who remarry do tend to be happier they gain little in terms of chronic health conditions.

There are several lessons in this study, the most obvious is that divorce leaves many scars. It also demonstrates again that our emotional health impacts our physical health. One of the advantages of complementary and alternative medicine is that looks at the whole person because these therapies appreciate that the source of health problems can be in your mind or spirit. What's sad is that Western medicine is still doing studies to discover this fundamental human truth.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Health Care Opinion

As articulate as I try to be, sometimes it's just easier to let someone else say what needs to be said. In this case it's an editorial in today's Dallas Morning News by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert on health care "reform" efforts. Business Win/Public Loss

Sunday, August 2, 2009

CAM Report

How could I not comment on the report last week from the National Institutes of Health about the growing popularity of complementary and alternative medicine? The good news is even though the field is often about self-care 38% of adults in this country made 354 million visits to complementary and alternative medicine practitioners in 2007. The bad news is that CAM therapies only make up 1.5% of the $2.2 trillion spent on health care in this country.

It's been estimated that 30% of our health care budget, or about $700 billion, is spent on tests and treatments that provide no value or benefit. Clearly we've got a long way to go to better balance our health care.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Time for Change

Ever so slowly the fact that we need to change our current health care system is beginning to be accepted in America. Costs have doubled in the last ten years and we simply cannot afford to wait and have them double again in the next ten years.

To put the issue in a more personal perspective, the American Journal of Medicine said in its June issue that medical debt was a factor in 62% of personal bankruptcies nationally and that 75% of those people had health insurance. Beginning to get the picture? Personally, and as a nation, we can't afford the current medical system.

We may disagree on what form the change needs to take, but hopefully we can quickly agree that change needs to happen NOW.