4 Important Facts about Probiotics

Source: drarata.com

The clinical research and trials conducted in the field of probiotics have made it clear that the overall health of a person is solely dependent on the probiotics that reside in the body of the same. This microscopic ecosystem is also known as the microbiome. Further research in the area also revealed that to increase one’s immunity probiotic supplements can also be administered orally via drinks or food items. Among the many benefits one can obtain from including a probiotic supplement in their dietary plan is the boost the supplement offers to the immune system. In the beginning, it was speculated decreasing gut bacteria content is responsible for the sudden rise in obese people in the worldwide population. 

Recent studies proved this speculation to be right and a direct link was found between the gut bacteria content and the chances of a person being obese or not. When a patient is being prescribed antibiotics for some infectious disease, the medication not only removes the ‘bad’ bacteria but also the ‘good’ ones residing within the body that are beneficial to the health in many ways.Maintaining a balance in the population of the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut is crucial for proper absorption of nutrients and digestion of food. They also help in maintaining a strong immune system, a healthy heart/circulatory system and mental health. The following are some facts you should know about probiotics:

1. It’s there with you before your birth

Source: netdoctor.cdnds.net.

In the past, it was the popular opinion among doctors that the newborn baby is sterile of gut bacteria and the same is being collected by the individual over the years into adulthood. A study conducted recently looked into the placental tissue after a child is born and it was found that bacteria found in the gums of the mother is also present in the newborn. This proves beyond doubt that the microbiome is in an individual even before he/she is born.

2. The Mental Health is influenced by Probiotics

A recent study concluded that imbalance in the gut bacteria content often leads to mental conditions like autism, depression and anxiety. It is even proven that autistic children could be cured by administering them with probiotic treatments. Even if the research is still an ongoing process, a link between the brain and gut is already being established.

3. Probiotics Ensures a Healthy Heart 

A balanced diet and an active life are crucial for a strong circulatory system and cardiovascular health, a recent study revealed that the microbiome plays an important role in maintaining the health and well-being of your heart. In today’s world were heart diseases have considerably increased, the need for probiotics is more than ever. 

4. Switching to Probiotics from Antibiotics in the Livestock Industry

The increaseduse of antibiotics in the livestock industry has made the animals immune to more deadly strains of bacteria. This resistance is passed on to the human population when the same is consumed for food. A project is even funded by the governing of Canada to tackle this particular issue. A mixture of probiotics and antioxidants are being fed to the livestock these days with the hope of migrating to the probiotic supplements from the antibiotic ones.

Conclusion

Source: ohsimply.com

Probiotics play an important role in the maintenance of the delicate balance between the good and bad bacteria in the gut. It also helps in boosting the immune system of the human body. The proper manipulation of the microbiome is an essential aspect that can be achieved by including probiotic drinks and food items in the daily diet of an individual.

Daily Exercise Routine and its Role in Natural Healing

Source: stylesatlife.com

When we are feeling tired or on the verge of getting sick, exercise is probably the last thing on our mind.  However, doing some exercise, even a small amount, can have a big effect on our energy level and immune system.  A regular routine of exercise has many positive outcomes for our body, mind, and soul. No caffeine or other stimulant needed. “People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being,” according to Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A

 

ENERGY LEVEL

Frequent exercise can increase your muscle strength and stamina.  Exercise carries oxygen and nutrients throughout your body and improves the function of your cardiovascular system.  More oxygen and a better functioning cardiovascular system give you more energy to accomplish more tasks. You may think that sitting on the couch and watching TV or surfing the Internet would conserve energy, thereby giving the energy to get things done.  It actually has the opposite effect so get on up and take a walk.

 

WEIGHT MAINTENANCE

Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and/or burn more calories in order to lose weight.  The more exercise you do, the more calories you burn. It can be as easy as parking farther away from a store or the front door of work.  It doesn’t have to be a full-blown gym exercise class in order to burn those extra calories. Better yet, take a walk at lunch to a local restaurant that has healthy food choices.  

 

DISEASE PREVENTION

Source: mediclights.com

It was already mentioned that exercise improves the function of the cardiovascular system, therefore, preventing heart disease.  It can also enhance good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol. Other disease risks that exercise diminishes are stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and arthritis. (www.mayoclinic.org) Any way to limit or eliminate any of the diseases is a good thing to put into your daily routine.

 

MOOD IMPROVEMENT

Exercise increases the production of a variety of brain chemicals that make you feel happy and relaxed.  If you are maintaining a healthy weight or lose weight due to your exercise routine, you may feel an increase in self-confidence and self-love.  Also, when exercising, your mind is concentrating on the exercise you are doing so you aren’t thinking or worrying about things that might negatively affect your mood.  

 

BETTER SLEEP

When you expend energy while exercising, you tire the muscles in your body, which will make you fall asleep easier.  Being physically tired can slow down your busy mind which can also help you fall asleep and stay asleep, making for a better night’s sleep.  Who could run a marathon and not have the best night’s sleep they’ve ever had? “Managing stress and ensuring a routine of plentiful, high quality sleep is critical to protecting your health,” says Michael J Breus Ph.D.

 

SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT

Joining a gym, studio, running club, etc gives you a social outlet where you will be surrounded by like-minded people.  Engaging with others whom you have something in common with can give you a feeling of community and belonging. Just being at a class can give you the opening of a conversation that could lead to a lifelong friendship or to someone who you can exercise with, thus keeping you on track.

 

STRESS REDUCTION

“Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress.  Exercise also increases levels of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.”(www.greatist.com/fitness/13-awesome-mental-health-benefits-execise)  Have you ever jumped on an elliptical or gone to a boxing class after a tough day at work?  You feel so much better after that class. That is the pure stress reduction effect of exercise. “Exercise is an excellent outlet for stress, which exacerbates symptoms,” says Marwa Azab Ph.D.

 

BONE STRENGTH

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Weight-bearing exercises can slow down the decrease in bone density.  This includes aerobic and muscle-strengthening workouts. Walking is considered a weight-bearing exercise because you are carrying the weight of your body as you walk.  Any type of class that uses hand weights is also a great addition to any exercise routine.

 

Vitamin Supplements for Natural Healing

source: mskcc.org

There are thousand of supplements available for all types of wellness and ailments.  The goal of supplements is to keep a person well and strong so that they don’t have to rely on pharmaceuticals that only treat symptoms.  Pharmaceuticals can have many unwanted side effects and, while they may take away the symptoms of one ailment, they may cause harm to the body.  If you were to purchase poor quality supplements, the same could hold true. “Relatedly, there are several supplements that have shown evidence of benefit for mood or cognition, as well as for physical health problems that are known to both impact mood and be affected by mood symptoms. These include, but are not limited to, omega-3 fatty acids, l-methylfolate (B9), vitamin B12, and probiotics,” stresses Traci Stein Ph.D.

 

INGREDIENTS TO AVOID IN SUPPLEMENTS

source: cbsnews.com

The first things that you have to look at are the ingredients in the supplement.  Many supplements contain titanium dioxide and silicon dioxide; this is the same thing that is in some paints.  Just the thought that something that is in the paint on your house is something that you could be ingesting should make you want to steer clear.  If the supplement has a pastel color to it, it probably contains titanium dioxide.  

 

That supplement probably also has one of many artificial colors that are added to make them look more appealing.  We don’t take the supplements for what they look like, we take them for the benefits that they give us. Some artificial coloring comes from the same thing house paint is made from…sound familiar.  Avoid these also.

 

Magnesium stearate is used so that the vitamins don’t stick to each other in the bottle.  It has also been shown to repress the immune system and to impede the assimilation of nutrients in the body.  Since many times we are taking the supplements to help our immune system, we should put this ingredient on the do not ingest list.

 

Many vitamins also contain hydrogenated oils.   The same oils that we have been trying to avoid in process foods for quite awhile.  “They encourage heart problems, strokes, nervous system problems, block the absorption of essential fatty acids, upset blood sugar regulation and more” (www.draxe.com/4-dangerous-and-common-vitamin-fillers-you-must-avoid).

 

THE BEST VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS

source: askthetrainer.com 

The best way to get your recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals is from natural food sources.  Sometimes taking a supplement will give you too much of a certain nutrient so if you are feeling well with your current diet, you may not need supplements.  If you eat a lot of processed food or if you are feeling like you may be depleted in a specific nutrient, vitamin supplements may be what you need. Depending upon your needs, these are the supplements that will be most helpful to you.

 

VITAMIN D:  “We are all aware of the recommendations that some of us should produce more vitamin D, take folic acid during pregnancy, take certain B-vitamins for better mental and physical health, and consume additional iron particularly if you’re a woman under 50 years,” says Gary L. Wenk Ph.D. This wonderful nutrient can come from good old sunshine, but that may not be possible in the winter.  There is a spray version that you take under your tongue and, therefore, it is easily absorbed into the body.  This is a good supplement for decreasing the possibility of getting the flu and it can enrich bone health in older folks.

 

PROBIOTICS:  Our gut contains trillions of bacteria that help with our digestion.  If this bacteria count is off, digestive issues can occur. Taking a probiotic will replace any of the bacteria that are lost due to taking antibiotics and keep them stable when you are healthy.

 

ZINC:  This little wonder “interferes with the replication of rhinoviruses, the microbes that cause the common cold”(www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/five-vitamins-and-suppements-are-actually-worth-taking).

 

GARLIC:  This is probably the easiest one to take naturally.  Garlic is known for its power to reduce blood pressure.

 

NIACIN:  Known as a cure for many ailments, including headaches, this nutrient is especially helpful to those who have heart disease in that, taken daily; it reduces the occurrence of strokes and heart attacks.

 

Although some of these supplements are used for specific ailments or to ward off unwanted diseases and sickness, a daily regimen of taking these in a food or other natural supplement form can be good for everybody. “Vitamins help your body perform optimally and multivitamin supplements can help ensure you are also getting the dosages of each mineral that you need,” says Elizabeth Scott, MS.

 

 

Healing Crystals: Their Role in Natural Healing

Source: healthynatured.com

Many people may think that using crystals is in the realm of magic.  If you want to adopt a more natural healing process, crystals are a great alternative.  If you look at crystals from a strictly scientific standpoint, they make a lot of sense because they are made out of stones that have different vibrations, which have an effect on everything around them. “These acts have a mantra-like effect, like a form of meditation, and that can be relaxing,” said Stuart Vyse, a psychologist. 

 

HOW DO CRYSTALS WORK?

Source: popsugar.com

“Atoms group together to form the essential shapes and qualities of crystals and stones.  The particles of these atoms are basic units of energy that emit subtle vibrations. Because each crystal and stone has its own unique molecular and geometric structure, their vibrations resonate on differing frequencies, which are then felt and/or perceived by us as feelings and qualities” (Mitchell, K, 2016, Change Your Energy:  Healing Crystals for Health, Wealth, Love and Luck). As for Shamanic practitioner Julie Ann Travis, “I place the crystals on the acupuncture points, so it’s the perfect modality for those who are not a fan of needles.” 

 

Since our bodies are made of energy and crystals/stones are also made of energy, they interact when near each other.  “Simple exercises in energy healing can restore normal energy flow in the body and facilitate healing,” says Carolyn C. Ross M.D., M.P.H. Depending on the energy vibration in the crystal and the needs of the body, different crystals are used for healing different ailments.  Just as we need different nutrients to keep our bodies healthy, we can use different crystals to help maintain or improve our bodies’ health.

Source: sagegoddess.com

There are hundreds and thousands of crystals in the world.  What crystals should we obtain at the start of our crystal-healing journey?  Is there a most important crystal or a least important crystal? It all depends on your needs so be sure to think about what ailments need to be addressed first before obtaining any crystals.

 

This is a list of starter crystals and is by no means the end-all and be-all of the crystal lists.  Many of these have multiple uses so they are a good beginning point: selenite, hematite, blue apatite, rose quartz, blue calcite, black tourmaline, malachite, amethyst

 

AILMENTS AND CRYSTAL TREATMENTS

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HEADACHE:  Place blue calcite or selenite as close to the center of the pain as you can and leave it there until the pain goes away.

NAUSEA:  Hold or rub hematite on the inside of the wrist.

APPETITE CONTROL:  Wear blue apatite.

SHOULDER/NECK TENSION:  Tape a flat piece of selenite between your shoulder blades.

FALLING BACK TO SLEEP AFTER WAKING UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT:  Hold rose quartz and concentrate on breathing pattern.

SORE THROAT:  Wear or place a piece of blue calcite on the throat until the pain goes away.

STRESS: Hold selenite in your receptive hand and black tourmaline in your dominant hand for 20 minutes to negate stress.

HASTEN HEALING:  Malachite is used for general speeding up of the body’s natural healing properties.

ANGER:  Hold rose quartz or amethyst to calm angry feelings.

CALM:  Wear black tourmaline, selenite, hematite, blue calcite

RELAXATION:  Wear blue calcite, rose quartz, black tourmaline

DEPRESSION:  Wear amethyst during the day and sleep with rose quartz and black tourmaline at night.

There are thousands of ailments that crystals can assist with and this is just a shortlist of the most common ailments people may experience.  It is amazing how just holding or wearing some of these crystals can make someone feel better and there are no side effects or damage to your body like many pharmaceuticals. 

It is important to mention that when you obtain new crystals, they should be cleared and charged before use. There are many resources online and in bookstores to help you with this process.  The suggestions in this post were all referenced from “Change Your Energy: Healing Crystals for Health, Wealth, Love and Luck; 2016; by Krista N. Mitchell.

 

 

Acupuncture for Natural Healing

Source: livingprettynaturally.com

How many times have you been watching television and a commercial comes on for some type of pharmaceutical that treats a specific ailment?  The commercial usually has a positive storyline to it with happy, smiling people. Then they get to the side effects of the pharmaceutical and all that happiness comes to a grinding halt.  The side effects are often worse than the ailment they are treating! There has to be a better way to heal the body.

WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?

Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine that has been used for over 3000 years.  If it has been around that long, it has to be working and helping patients. It is safe and effective when treating an extensive list of ailments.  Acupuncture enhances the body’s operations and encourages the natural healing progression by acupuncture points, or acupoints, throughout the body. The most well-known type of acupuncture is the placing of thin, hygienic needles into the skin. According to Teri Goetz MS, LAC, ACC, “Acupuncture is theorized to work by getting rid of the “roadblocks” on this energy superhighway.”

As a Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture is based on an ancient belief that the body and universe have two opposite forces:  yin and yang. When you feel healthy, these forces are said to be balanced. Qi (chee) is an energy that flows along meridians, or trails, in the body and if any of those trails are blocked, you feel unhealthy.  Acupuncture attempts to unblock this flow so that good health is reinstated. Unblocking restores the natural healing process so that the body can heal itself.

WHAT DOES ACUPUNCTURE TREAT?

Source: barerootsnaturalhealth.com

“Acupuncture and acupressure are widely used to treat anxiety in both Asia and Western countries,” according to James Lake, MD. Acupuncture has been effective in the nervous system, endocrine, and immune systems, cardiovascular system, and the digestive system.  That covers the entire body. It can help to reduce or eliminate pain, enhance good sleep, improve digestive operation and enrich one’s sense of happiness, comfort, and security.  

Specific ailments that have shown improvement with acupuncture treatment are:  “back, neck, dental and other types of pain; nausea; migraines; anxiety; depression; insomnia, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, and infertility” (www.cim.ucsd.edu/clinical-care/acupuncture) to name a few.  All these can be treated with none of the awful side effects that pharmaceutical is known for.  

WHAT TO EXPECT AT AN ACUPUNCTURE APPOINTMENT

Source: prtcm.org

The acupuncture practitioner will first speak to you about your health history and what ailments you are seeking relief from.  They may do some additional physical examinations depending on your current health and ailments. They will explain what their plan of action will be for your specific needs.  You will lay on a comfy table, similar to a massage table, and the practitioner will carefully place the thin, hygienic needles in acupoints that correspond to your ailments/energy pathways that may be blocked.  Needles stay in place from 5 to 30 minutes.  

People describe a feeling of relaxation during and after their treatment.  The few side effects that may occur after acupuncture are soreness or bruising at the needle placement site(s).  As with any type of medical or natural treatment, ask questions and do research before the appointment so that you know what to expect and what questions to ask.  Also, make sure that your acupuncture practitioner is licensed in the state where you live.

DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?

Source: onhealth.com

You can find skeptics of all types of medical and /or natural treatments.  One medical treatment may be glorified for one person and lambasted by another.  The same goes for natural treatments. You can try a medical treatment and the doctors may want you to take one of those pharmaceuticals that have a myriad of awful side effects or they may want to do major surgery.  If you try a natural treatment like acupuncture and you don’t feel like it was effective, you may have a little soreness. If it does work, perfect! Which would you choose?

“We have provided evidence that acupuncture versus usual care and counseling versus usual care are both associated with a significant reduction in symptoms of depression in the short to medium term, and are not associated with serious adverse events,” said the investigators, led by Hugh MacPherson, Ph.D., University of York in the United Kingdom.

 

 

Meditation Techniques for Calming the Mind

Source: chopra.com

Stress plays a major role in each of our lives. We feel it at home when we are pressured to meet our financial obligations. At work, the nagging boss gets to our nerves when he’s looking for the report from two days ago. Our kids, no matter how much we love them, annoy us when they insist on doing what’s not to be done. When we want so much to relax and unwind but the nanny just couldn’t make it tonight, we just raise our hands in desperation because we’re going to be watching the baby instead of the movie. 

Oftentimes, we fail to keep our cool at the biggest and the slightest things, and we want to blow up in anger and shout to release that heavy feeling in our chest. It seems that no matter how many times we’ve dealt with stress and anxiety, we just couldn’t get used to it.  Could there be something we can do to maintain our inner balance consistently? Can we possibly find an effective strategy to keep it together – mind, body, and spirit – harmoniously? 

Meditation Defined
“Relaxation techniques can be an effective way to calm anxious thinking and direct your mind to a more positive place,” says Kathleen Smith, Ph.D., LPC. The practice of meditation has long been proven to provide many benefits, the most popular of which is relaxation and inner peace. The Buddhists meditate to improve their concentration and achieve the feeling of true happiness and ecstasy. Simply stating, meditation is a method of transforming the mind. It is done by practicing the mind to be more aware of what’s happening within yourself, to be able to focus on your goal whether it be relaxation, concentration, induced sleep or literally some peace and quiet. It is also one of the best ways to calm the mind and develop inner peace. Physiologically, the benefits include lowered blood pressure, weight loss, and increased energy and exercise tolerance levels.

Source: fresher.ru

On the other hand, meditation has more psychological benefits than you can imagine. You become less reactive to pressure and more able to set aside minor and unimportant concerns. With a clearer mind, an individual who learns how to meditate is often more creative, more self-confident and more resilient to tough situations. According to Tom Corboy, MFT, “meditation, yoga, or other calming practices can help minimize anxiety in both the short and long term.”

Meditation Techniques that Calm the Mind

Progressive muscle relaxation

This is done by intermittently tensing and relaxing the muscles of your body, usually starting from the feet and upward to the hands. Contracting the muscles for about ten seconds works the muscle groups, tiring them and consequently producing more relaxation. This technique produces awesome calming benefits. 

Guided Visualization

This technique follows the concept of Buddha, that a person becomes what he thinks he can become. If you want to be happy, you only need to think you are, in your mind, and you achieve it. You make it true by believing in it before it has happened. 

 

Qi Gong

A more familiar method, Qi Gong promotes good posture and relaxation. Proper breathing is key here, as it is utilized to carry and provide energy to all parts of the body. Originally, it means ‘being revived.’ 

Mindfulness

“When you practice things like gratitude or mindfulness, your brain creates shortcuts for these skills, making it easier and easier each time you do it (like riding a bike!),” says Tchiki Davis, Ph.D.

Mindfulness meditation is one of the most popular techniques that is used by many Buddhists to gain more wisdom on something. It is also used to get over a traumatic event that happened in the past. It promotes self-awareness and wisdom. Mindfulness meditation is effective in treating depression and anxiety.

Whatever technique you may have chosen, the goal should be relaxation, happiness, acceptance and inner peace. Once you’ve decided which technique to use daily, you may now practice and integrate it into your daily activities – where you are focused, happy, and successful in finding the inner balance needed to thrive in this stressful and chaotic world. If you need help finding that balance in life, try reaching out to a licensed therapist online. 

Source: poetseers.org

 

On Acupuncture

Source: sa1s3.patientpop.com

It’s difficult to understand how a supposedly beneficial technique can be both hotly defended as useful by some people, while others spend a great deal of effort trying to dismiss it. Surely, something that has been in widespread use for a century or more should by now have been either confirmed to be effective, or discarded as useless? Considering the enormous cost of medical care today, such a cheap treatment could easily benefit millions, so why don’t we know one way or the other?

 

Scientific Controversy

One thing to keep in mind when exploring the results of medical trials is that there is likely to be a great deal of money involved, careers at stake and reputations to maintain. This may not be in the purest scientific spirit of impartial inquiry, but it does play a role. It is just one of the possible reasons for scientists disagreeing with each other over the proper interpretation of the same data. 

 

There is rarely a case of actual corruption involved: researchers, like other professionals, tend to see what they want to see, which is often the same thing the organization paying the bills is most interested in proving. In fairness, competition for academic research positions is extremely fierce, so research funding is very much a career lifeline, whatever its source. For an example of how this can work, the connection between tobacco smoke and lung cancer had been suspected since the 1920’s and proved to a high degree of certainty by 1950, yet a decade later only a third of doctors in the United States considered the case clear-cut. By contrast, a medical researcher who tries to deny this link today will at best face a controversy, and quite possibly be accused of falsifying his evidence. 

 

A second thing to keep in mind is that medical research actually tends to be extremely rigorous, and just understanding papers published in the field requires a working knowledge of statistics, diagnostic and treatment procedures, microbiology and several other sciences. This is another, more legitimate reason for disagreements in the scientific community: some things are just not known for certain, and certain issues are too complex to allow simple answers. 

 

When some research study contradicts the results of another, experimental designs can be combed over to find errors, data can be compared to that of prior trials, or new research can be done if someone is sufficiently interested. Through this slightly competitive process of peer review, good science eventually drives out the bad. The problem when it comes to determining the efficacy of acupuncture is that few people are sufficiently interested in funding research on the large scale required. Drug manufacturers are extremely profitable, and they stay that way by funding research on the curative properties of new chemicals, not blue-sky ideas which won’t ever turn a profit.

 

The Detractors’ View

Source: dfranks.com

It would be a very bad idea to first assert that a new course of medicine is safe and effective, then start selling it to see if the claims are true. For this reason, scientific hypotheses are almost invariably framed in a way that assumes that what most informed people believe in is true, and the heavier burden of proof placed on any new theory. Expressed at its most basic, this proof consists of two numbers: a performance metric such as the average decrease in blood pressure measured during a trial, and the level of significanceor statistical certainty that some aspect of a new theory is true. The latter is why it’s not uncommon for important medical studies to be performed on thousands of subjects over a period of years, leading to their high expense.

 

If such a performance metric or significance level is too low to support the new theory, technically speaking the old theory is not proved true, but is not rejected at the present time. While this may seem like a backwards way to go about searching for knowledge, numerous very smart people over the years have found this to be the best approach in terms of guarding against both conceptual and experimental errors. Both are unfortunately prevalent in the existing scientific literature on acupuncture, which means that studies can’t be compared one with another, nor are the data they yield necessarily subject to statistical analysis.

 

So, the most scientific view based on currently available peer reviewed data is that, if acupuncture is indeed effective, its effects are too small to be detected experimentally. Put another way, its curative properties can be compared to giving someone a pill filled with sugar and chalk dust: some patients will indeed get better on their own, but the “treatment” has nothing to do with it.

 

More research may change this view, but this is unlikely to happen any time soon. Although there are formal courses in acupuncture, it’s much more difficult to assess whether a practitioner is well-qualified in the same way as an M.D. is required to be, which makes research more difficult to carry out. In addition, any such study requires a huge amount of skilled labor, volunteers who have faith in the technique as well as an equal number who don’t, and piles of cash.Based on the existing evidence,this will be better spent elsewhere. 

 

The Supporters’ View

Source: smartyhotel.it

Within the scientific community, there are still a large number of doctors and researchers who believe that the evidence for acupuncture being a useful form of treatment is quite strong for particular conditions such as pain management, clinical depression and arthritis. In some cases and countries, it is offered much like nutritional advice: not as a replacement for proven methods of care, but as a supplement to it – this way, if it does not work for a particular patient, there’s no real harm done.

 

Similarly to those who are skeptical about acupuncture, its supporters also point out that it’s very difficult to do research on. There are several different forms of it, which makes comparing their results statistically very difficult. Also, nobody really knows how it works. In conventional medical studies, some intervening variable linked to disease symptoms can often be measured directly and precisely, for example through chemical blood analysis. Without some insight into acupuncture’s working mechanism, these intervening variables can’t even be identified.

 

Unlike scientists, who tend to be more guarded in their opinions in the absence of proof, numerous people ascribe their recovery from a huge range of conditions to traditional Chinese medicine, of which acupuncture forms part. This kind of evidence can’t be processed scientifically (for instance, how would a researcher go about finding a proportional number of people who didn’t notice any benefit?), but it’s also difficult to ignore when there’s a huge amount of it.

***

While the controversy over the effectiveness of acupuncture and other alternative remedies continues, the average man in the street can make little sense of the science regarding such a polarizing issue. For hard facts, the statistics gathered by accepted scientific methods remain the gold standard, but what about the large amount of anecdotal evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture? Perhaps there is some unknown factor that causes it to be effective for some but not for all. Perhaps this is only an example of the placebo effect. In either case, it’s cheap enough and harmless enough to make it possible for all of us to conduct our own experiments and act accordingly. As far as your own health is concerned, you’re really welcome to do whatever makes you happiest.