Chinese Herbal Therapy Offers Many Benefits
By Jamie Starkey, LAc
For centuries, herbs have been considered fundamental therapy for many acute and chronic conditions in China. Chinese herbal therapy is a major aspect of traditional Chinese medicine. Like acupuncture, it addresses unhealthy patterns of the body that manifest in a various symptoms and complaints.
Restoring balance in the body
Herbalists in our Chinese Herbal Clinic draw from “Materia Medica,” a traditional Chinese medicine text that covers thousands of herbs, minerals and other extracts.
A variety of herbs — such as ginseng, reishi mushroom or astragalus — can be combined to create hundreds of formulas. These formulas are used to regain homeostasis, or balance, in the body and strengthen resistance to disease. This can:
- Decrease cold/flu symptoms
- Increase energy
- Improve breathing
- Improve digestion
- Improve sleep
- Control menopausal symptoms
- Regulate menstrual cycles
Chinese herbal therapy is also a valuable adjunct after cancer treatment. Chinese herbs are useful in rehabilitation of other chronic diseases too.
What herbalists do
Herbalists in our center prescribe Chinese herbs as primary therapy and as a complement to acupuncture. They will take a detailed health history and consider your past and current illnesses, and medication use. Most importantly, they will work closely with your physician to manage your care and monitor your progress on Chinese herbal therapy.
We advise all patients to consult their physician before starting any Chinese herbal treatment. The first appointment in our Chinese Herbal Clinic lasts 60 minutes and costs $100; follow-up appointments last 30 minutes and cost $60. Call the Center for Integrative Medicine at 216.986.HEAL (4325) for an appointment with our herbalists.
Wellness Approaches to Relieving Chronic Pain
Complementary therapies can enhance the pain relief that mainstream medical therapies provide. They can also minimize the need for pain medications and the risk for becoming dependent on them, says Tanya Edwards, MD , Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine.
Below, she and William Welches, DO, PhD, an osteopathic physician in Cleveland Clinic’s Pain Management Department, share tips on managing chronic pain using wellness approaches:
1. Avoid inflammatory foods
Because inflammation is associated with pain, “an anti-inflammatory diet should be part of any treatment plan,” says Dr. Edwards. Start by eliminating meat and dairy products. For protein, choose foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, like flaxseed, walnuts and cold water fish. Increase your daily fruit and vegetable intake. Cook with turmeric, ginger, rosemary and basil. Opt for tea instead of coffee.
2. Supplement your diet
Dr. Edwards recommends taking Omega-3 fish oil and alpha lipoic acid (ALA) supplements because they reduce inflammation and therefore pain. She also finds magnesium supplements to be helpful when taken at bedtime. They help relieve pain, along with fatigue and depression, related to low magnesium stores in the body.
3. Consider acupuncture
Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese technique, uses hair-thin needles to relieve pain. More than 500 research articles support its effectiveness in pain relief, says Dr. Edwards. “Acupuncture can treat just about any condition you can think of,” Dr. Welches points out. :With 4,000 years of history, Chinese physicians had to treat everything we see today.”
4. Ask about an osteopath
Osteopathic manipulation can realign the neck and head to restore good body mechanics. This can relieve neck pain and headache. “Cranial-sacral therapy is a gentle, hands-on technique that releases compression in the bones of the head, spine and lower back,” says Dr. Welches.
5. Relax and meditate
Multiple studies show that achieving a state of deep relaxation provides some freedom from pain. “These trials include research on hypnosis, guided imagery, cognitive behavioral therapy, support groups, meditation and breath work,” says Dr. Edwards. Dr. Welches adds that “meditation techniques vary, and so far I haven't run into a bad one.”
Other complementary therapies to consider include massage, chiropractic manipulation and Reiki (energy healing).
What if you don’t feel better?
If you’ve tried a complementary therapy for a reasonable amount of time and it hasn’t helped, don’t be afraid to try a different provider, says Dr. Welches.
No matter which type of therapy you choose, exercising, eating a healthy diet and minimizing stress are critical.
Specialists in Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine and Department of Pain Management work together to help people with chronic pain improve their lives. To make an appointment with one of our Integrative Medicine physicians, call 216.986.HEAL (4325). To see Dr. Welches or another pain management physician, call 216.444.PAIN (7246).
Acupuncture: An Effective Treatment for Severe Headaches
By Jamie Starkey, LAc
Chances are you know someone who suffers from migraines or other severe headaches. A 2011 National Health Interview Survey by The Centers for Disease Control found that nearly 17 percent of adults 18 and older had had such headaches in the past three months.
Severe headaches and migraines take a significant toll on quality of life. The pain can be disabling and require bed rest. It can become difficult to think or function, causing lost days at work or school, and missed family events.
Start with your doctor
If you suffer from severe tension headaches, cluster headaches or migraines, a visit to your doctor is a crucial first step. You want to be certain there is no underlying cause for your headache that may require immediate medical care.
Medication is the most common treatment doctors recommend, and it is effective. However, some people have trouble with medication side effects. And others do not respond to medication at all.
When medication has not helped or side effects have become a problem, then integrative therapy — and acupuncture in particular — is a good option.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of several fine hair-thin needles into the skin by a skilled and licensed acupuncturist. For headache treatment, needles are usually inserted in the limbs and head.
Studies reveal acupuncture’s benefit
The National Institutes of Health accepted acupuncture as a viable alternative treatment for headaches in 1998. Since then, data from several studies have shown the positive impact acupuncture can have. Here are two examples:
- A systematic review of 31 studies by Duke University researchers. The studies compared acupuncture, a sham procedure and medication therapy for chronic headache. Acupuncture was found to be best at reducing headache intensity and frequency, and at improving the treatment response rate.
- A study comparing acupuncture to medication for headache prevention. Published in Cephalalgia in 2011, this study looked at Topomax® (topirimate) and acupuncture. Researchers found that acupuncture was better than topirimate at decreasing headache frequency and had fewer side effects.
To see an acupuncturist for severe headaches that do not respond to traditional medical treatment, call the Center for Integrative Medicine at 216.986.HEAL (4325).
Don't Miss These Wellness Events
Live Web Chat: Ask the Chiropractor
Tuesday, March 18, 2014: Noon ET
Chat with wellness chiropractor Andrew Bang, DC, an expert on relieving pain in the back, neck, pelvis and other joints. Learn how our chiropractic physicians treat the whole patient — not just the area that hurts. Dr. Bang has advanced training in exercise prescriptions, corrective exercises, nutrition, muscle work, extremity manipulation, and dietary and lifestyle intervention. Dr. Bang sees patients at Lyndhurst Specialty Center and now at Cleveland Clinic main campus.
Ask the Integrative Medicine Experts: Nutrition & Supplements
Monday, March 10, 2014: 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Lyndhurst Specialty Center, 1950 Richmond Road, Lyndhurst OH 44124
Join us for this inaugural Center for Integrative Medicine Health Talk. Enjoy an overview on nutrition from Christine Spiroch, PhD, PA-C. Learn about the benefits of dietary supplements from Melissa Young, MD. Ask questions in a Q&A session moderated by Tanya Edwards, MD, MEd. Then tour our new Wellness Store.
Mark Your Calendar for Women's Wellness Week 2014
Nov. 9 – 16, 2014
‘Tween Waters Inn, Captiva Island, Florida
Renew, replenish and rediscover yourself during this week of restorative, healthy living on the Gulf of Mexico. Learn the latest from our experts on women’s fitness, nutrition, stress reduction and life management in a tranquil setting. Enjoy Mediterranean-style cuisine featuring anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting foods.
Enjoy Shopping in Our New Wellness Store
Now you can browse quality health and wellness products — vitamins, supplements, healthy snacks, apparel and more — before or after your appointment in the Center for Integrative Medicine. The store is on the second floor by the West Elevators in our Lyndhurst Specialty Center. The hours are Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Wellness points and Payroll Deduction are not yet available.)