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Mindfulness in the Clinic

27 Nov

Jane Brody writes about the role of contemplative care for both palliative care patients and practitioners in today’s  New York Times.

Chinese Medicine and Cancer Treatment Effectiveness

3 Apr

Shirley Wang writes in today’s Wall Street Journal that “scientists studying a four herb combination discovered some 1,800 years ago by Chinese herbalists have found that the substance enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapy in patients with colon cancer.

Mindfulness, Stress and Eating

15 Mar

How do you eat under stress?  For many, chronic stress gets under the skin, stimulates the appetite and influences what people eat — often leading to the indulgence in sweet, high-fat foods. These foods tend to make you feel better in the short term, but in the long run can cause health issues. Chronic stress, in fact, has been shown to impair immune responses. Elissa Epel, PhD., an Associate Professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry, is testing new strategies to help people cope with stress, including the art of mindfulness.

According to Epel, being in the moment serves like a filter to help people better manage how they react in stressful situations. Epel and her colleagues are teaching mindful eating skills – such as the benefits of noticing each bite, how it tastes and how full one feels. The hope is the more mindful you are and the better you can manage and reduce stress, the less likely you are to overeat.

Here’s a video segment which goes into more detail:

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/gu1M8os9lLEs%2Em4v%5D

Mindfulness Can Make You Healthier and Live Longer

2 Jan

Happy New Year — is it resolution time for you? Alex Williams asked the question in today’s New York Times. Research shows that many people who try to make major lifestyle changes, like losing weight, don’t succeed. Why? They are “hard-wired not to change quickly,” said Dr. Marion Kramer Jacobs. On the other hand, Alan Deutschman, the author of “Change or Die,” says some strategies are more likely than others to bring positive results. Here are Deutschman’s four steps to success:

  1. Start with big changes, not small ones.
  2. Act like the person you are trying to become.
  3. “Reframe” the situation.
  4. Don’t do it alone.

  
Dr. Dean Ornish of UCSF  is more optimistic. He believes that by changing your lifestyle you can change your gene expression. In fact, his studies have shown that people who are motivated to make and maintain bigger, healthier changes in lifestyle also achieve better clinical outcomes and even larger cost savings for the healthcare system.

In his recent interview with Edge-The Third Culture, Ornish says  that if stress reduces telomerase (an enzyme that repairs and lengthens damaged telomeres, which are the ends of our chromosomes that control how long we live) and makes telomeres shorter, then stress management techniques, exercise and good nutrition should be able to increase these. 

Ornish later says that “the more inwardly-defined you are, the more you can quiet down your mind and body and experience more of an inner sense of peace and well being, the more empowered you are… people only have power over you if they have something that you think you need. The more inwardly-defined you are, the less you need, so the more powerful you become”. And healthier too!

For more, check out this video from last year’s TED Conference:

The Healing Power of Music

7 Jun

Can listening to music for an hour each day help make chronic pain go away? I’m intrigued by the healing role music plays to help people relax and just plain feel better.

The other day I read about a small study on this very topic. It was published in June’s Journal of Advanced Nursing, funded by the NIH. Researchers discovered that patients with chronic pain and depression reported less pain and more control over their condition after a week of daily "music therapy."   

Music helps relax patients and distracts them from their discomfort. The study suggests that a daily dose of music is a good complement to standard medical treatments. Participants were split into groups and listened to  music ranging from pop, rock,jazz, and classical to soothing instrumental and nature sounds.

“Listening
to music has already been shown to promote a number of positive
benefits and this research adds to the growing body of evidence that it
has an important role to play in modern healthcare” notes study co-author
Professor Marion Good.

I’ve always considered listening or playing music a wonderful way to
undwind, de-stress, and just chill out. I even have my music collection
categorized by genres and artists, so that I can pop in a tune which
fits every mood.

 

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