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Jul 13
NY Yankee Boasts Relief with Acupuncture
Posted by mbsilbs in Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Live Well Newsletter Articles on 07 13th, 2010| icon3Comments Off on NY Yankee Boasts Relief with Acupuncture

Yankees starter A.J. Burnett credits acupuncture with helping him stay healthy

Marc Carig/The Star-LedgerMarc Carig/The Star-Ledger


A.J. Burnett, to left, has tried to get Yankees manager Joe Girardi to try acupuncture. ‘I don’t think I could take it,’ Girardi says.NEW YORK – Brian Cashman had to be sure.

The Yankees general manager heard the reports out of Toronto, the ones that said that A.J. Burnett had been reformed. Gone was the pitcher who leaned on raw talent and little else to get by, the one with the nasty streak of a bulldog but the durability of a Ming vase. Inspired by the great Roy Halladay, Burnett had learned the virtue of preparation and thus discovered the key to staying healthy.

Still, Cashman had questions for Burnett when he became a free agent. So they talked about preparation, about lifting weights, running and throwing between starts, all the mundane work it takes to do the extraordinary. Then, Burnett told Cashman about the thing that he believed had made all the difference: his devotion to acupuncture.

“Do you guys have something like that?” Burnett asked.

In the winter of 2008, the Yankees did not. However, with the team still stinging from missing the playoffs and in dire need of high-end arms, Cashman told Burnett he was prepared to change that.

“It was a promise I made to him,” Cashman said. “Clearly, we want to keep this asset on the field. We want him right.”

With that, the Yankees closed the book on two signings that shaped the 2009 championship season: Burnett, who helped the Yankees win the World Series; and Gil Chimes, a Connecticut chiropractor and the first acupuncture specialist employed by the Yankees under Cashman’s watch.

“It’s something that’s part of his routine, his structure, his discipline,” Cashman said. “It’s vital to him and his mind. Therefore it’s vital to us.”

It takes only one glance to realize a few important things about Burnett. Tattoos cover his body, growing like ivy over his skin since he got his first ink as a teenager in Arkansas. Clearly, he has no problem with breaking from the mold, and he has no issues with needles. Which leads to another important point about Burnett.

In the past year-and-a-half, he has begun a transformation from one of baseball’s most injury-plagued players into one of its most reliable, a drastic change he attributes to his use of acupuncture.

No one area of Burnett’s body is routinely targeted, he said. The number of needles used and where they are placed varies every time he receives treatment.

“I believe in it,” said Burnett, who starts for the Yankees today against the Twins. “There’s no doubt in my mind that I think it’s helped.”

Since his major league debut in 1999, Burnett has landed on the disabled list with a ruptured ligament in his thumb, a stress fracture of his right foot, a bone bruise, a right shoulder strain and a break-up of scar tissue in his right elbow, ultimately a side-effect of the granddaddy of all pitcher’s injuries, a right elbow ligament that required Tommy John surgery.

For all of Burnett’s ferocity on the mound, he had come to be defined by his fragility.

But for the first time in his career, Burnett strung together back-to-back seasons (2008-2009) in which he threw at least 200 innings and made more than 30 starts.

“A.J. has come to a better understanding of what to do to stay healthy,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Sometimes, when you’re young and have a great arm, you just go out and wing stuff. And he’s kind of a free spirit. But over the years … he’s really learned what he needs to do.”

In 2003, before undergoing Tommy John surgery, Burnett made four starts for the Florida Marlins. So when the Marlins won the World Series, Burnett received a ring he hardly wore because he felt as if he hardly deserved it.

When the Yankees received their championship rings for last year’s World Series title, Burnett said he planned to wear the ring proudly. This time, he had earned that right. On a staff that featured renowned grinders such as CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, Burnett was the only member of the Yankees rotation who didn’t miss a single inning to injury.

“That’s what I’ve tried to do for 10 years but I just haven’t been able to,” Burnett said.

Until recently.

Burnett first tried acupuncture in 2007 while with the Blue Jays. Massage therapists employed by the team suggested the technique. Burnett figured it couldn’t hurt.

“I wasn’t afraid of it,” Burnett said. “I’ve seen people do it before. After a while, I loved it.”

By 2008, Burnett underwent acupuncture treatments as often as three times a week.

“I found that I responded really well to the acupuncture, how that treated my body and my nerves, and the release of stress,” Burnett said. “And I bought into it big time.”


The results made him a believer.

In his final season with the Blue Jays, Burnett made a career-high 34 starts. He also set career-highs in victories (18), innings (221 1/3) and strikeouts (231). It was only the second time that he crossed the 30-start plateau and the first time since 2005, his final season with the Marlins.

His timing couldn’t have been better. Heading into his free-agent year, Burnett had plenty of financial motivation to show that he could stay healthy. The pitching-starved Yankees were convinced, signing the right-hander to a five-year contract for $82.5 million – and a team-employed acupuncture specialist.

“(Cashman) basically told me, ‘Hey, we want you to have the exact same program that you have,’ ” Burnett said. “In a sense, I live by it in a way. I love it because I really feel like it helps.”

In the days leading up to his starts, it’s not uncommon to see Burnett return to the clubhouse, still trying to fully emerge from his slumber.

“I try to pass out every time,” he said. “It’s a different kind of sleep. It’s like a heavy coma.”

He can be out for as much as half an hour at a time while undergoing treatment, occasionally remaining asleep even after the needles have been removed from his body. Sometimes, however, Burnett has been seen sound asleep, with needles sticking out of his body.

“Yeah, it’s bizarre,” Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey said. “It’s a thing he’s been doing for a while now. He trusts it, he enjoys it, and he seems to think he gets results from it. That’s all that matters.”

Sometimes, Girardi walks by the trainers and catches glimpses of Burnett in the middle of an acupuncture session. The manager can barely stand the sight.

“I cringe because there’s no way I could do it,” said Girardi, who recalls a few teammates through the years giving acupuncture a chance. “He’s always trying to get me to do some, but I don’t think I could take it.”

Indeed, acupuncture may not be for everyone. But what’s most important for the Yankees is that Burnett knows it’s for him.

“The bottom line is that I was on the field for 35 starts,” he said. “That’s my main goal.”

Marc Carig may be reached at

Jul 13
Acupuncture and Allergy Relief
Posted by mbsilbs in Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Live Well Newsletter Articles on 07 13th, 2010| icon3Comments Off on Acupuncture and Allergy Relief

Acupuncture Pins Down Allergy Relief

Tuesday, April 03, 2007
By Dr. Manny Alvarez

drmanny managing health editor Dr. Manuel Alvarez

Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, was a firm believer in the body’s ability to heal itself, saying, “the natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well.”

But long before Hippocrates, the ancient Chinese were already practicing what he would later preach, through the art of acupuncture.

With seasonal allergies torturing one-third of Americans, ancient acupuncture can provide a new kind of relief. While over-the-counter medications often come with unwanted side-effects, acupuncture does not. This makes it a welcome alternative for people looking for a new way to combat allergies this season.

Acupuncture is defined as a method of preventing and treating disease, illness, injury or pain by allowing the body to heal naturally and improve the way it functions. This is done by stimulating biologically significant points on the surface of the body.

In traditional Chinese medicine, these strategic points are usually stimulated by the insertion of acupuncture needles. However, in the current Westernized version of acupuncture, they can be stimulated through non-invasive techniques such as lasers.

No matter what type of stimulation is used, there is never any introduction of chemical substances into the body.

Getting to Know Acupuncture

The traditional Chinese medicine approach to acupuncture treatment is predicated on eight principles:

  • Qi (sometimes spelled “chi”) – This is the energy that gives life to all living matter. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qi typically refers to the functions of the internal organs as well as life force or energy.
  • Yin and Yang – These two opposites make up the whole. To be healthy involves balancing Yin and Yang. Illness occurs when one of the two is either too strong or too weak.
  • The Five Phases of Transformation (also known as the Five Elements) – The five elements are Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. They are related to the various organs in the body and to one another in a complex manner.
  • Channels – Qi flows through a system of ducts. These ducts form a network of main channels, minor capillaries and collaterals. There are 14 main interconnected channels called “meridians” through which Qi flows. Each meridian is named for the organ it is related to e.g. Heart channel.
  • Points (also known as acupuncture points) – More than 400 locations on the skin connect to the 14 main meridians or channels. The stimulation of different acupuncture points can influence the activity of the corresponding meridian in a specific manner.
  • Diagnosis – It is believed that the pathological changes of the internal organs are reflected on the body surface. That is why a diagnosis is made by observation of the skin, eyes, tongue, and pulse.
  • Zang-Fu Theory – This explains the physiological function, pathological changes, and inter-relationships of internal organs. The five Zang organs are the Lungs, Heart, Spleen, Liver, and Kidney. The six Fu organs are the Gall Bladder, Stomach, Large Intestine, Small Intestine, Urinary Bladder and “Triple Warmer” (three areas of the body cavity).
  • Chinese Syndrome – There are eight general principles that are used to differentiate among syndromes:- Yin and Yang- Exterior (Biao) and Interior (Li)- Xu (deficiency) and Shi (excess)- Cold and Heat.

Acupuncture and Allergies

How do all of these elements fit together in the treatment of seasonal allergies? Kath Bartlett, owner of the Asheville Center for Chinese Medicine in Asheville, N.C., noted that they are used in a two pronged, “root and branch” approach. Kath has an M.S. in traditional Chinese medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, San Diego campus. She is also Board Certified in Oriental Medicine by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

She explained that during allergy season, when a patient comes in with a runny nose, watery eyes, and uncontrollable sneezing, the treatment emphasis is on the symptoms, or the “branch.” In between allergy seasons, the patient would continue to receive treatments, but this time the emphasis is on strengthening the immune system, or the “root,” also refered to as “The Righteous Qi.”

Diagnosing an allergy using traditional Chinese medicine is far more individualized than it would be with Western medicine. Allergies are analyzed by the pattern of symptoms seen in the specific patient, and the treatment is designed to relieve these particular symptoms.

The diagnosis begins with the basic belief that all allergies contain an element of dampness, which is a pathological accumulation of water. At this point, Kath explained, the acupuncturist looks at the symptoms to differentiate the nature of the allergy by determining heat and cold conditions.

In a heat condition, the phlegm or expectorant is green; there is a redness or yellow coat on the tongue, and the patient has a rapid pulse. In a cold condition, the phlegm or expectorant is white or clear and the tongue has a white coating. Once this determination has been made, the acupuncturist can target the specific acupuncture points that will alleviate symptoms.

Another technique used in addition to needle insertion is what’s known as “cupping.” This methodology is used to help Qi circulate. “In traditional Chinese medicine, a glass glass cup is usually used. There are also bamboo and plastic ones. A flame is put in and out of the cup, which causes the air inside to evaporate. This creates a vacuum effect. I put the cup on the lungs to pull out the phlegm,” described Kath.

Some acupuncturists also have herbal training, like Kath; and they incorporate herbs into the allergy treatment. She uses raw herbs or parts of the plants that are cut and dried and can be brewed into the strong-flavored teas that most people associated with herbal remedies. For patients who are turned off by the pungent flavors, granulated herbs can be mixed with water and drunk that way.

Is Acupuncture Effective?

How effective is traditional Chinese medicine in the treatment of seasonal allergies? In a study published in the September 2004 issue of Allergy magazine, the researchers concluded that a combination of Chinese herbs and weekly acupuncture sessions showed promise as a treatment for relieving the symptoms of seasonal allergies. The authors of the study recommended that future research investigate the effectiveness of an acupuncture and herb combination in the treatment of other conditions.

The study was done with 52 participants, between ages 20 and 58. The first group received a 20-minute acupuncture treatment weekly for six weeks, with points on the Large Intestine, Gallbladder, Lung and Liver meridians stimulated. Additional points were selected based on each patient’s individual symptoms. They were also given an herbal blend of schizonepeta, chrysanthemum, cassia seed, plantago seed and tribulus.

Patients in the control group were given acupuncture, but at the same non-acupuncture points, which were away from meridians. They were treated with needles smaller than those used on the traditional Chinese medicine patients. Control patients also received a non-specific herbal formula comprised of coix seed, licorice, poria, hops, oryza, barley, hawthorn fruit, and medicated leaven.

At the end of the study period, participants in both groups were rated on their level of improvement. The first group treated with traditional Chinese medicine patients demonstrated improvements in allergy symptoms in the eyes and nose, higher levels of physical activity, and an improved psychological condition compared to patients in the control group.

For seasonal allergy sufferers still suffering with traditional Western medical treatments, or weighed down by unwanted side effects like drowsiness, may find relief in acupuncture. In fact, these patients may discover what Hippocrates learned centuries ago, the body has its own incredible power to heal.

Click here to visit’s Allergy Center health writer Maria Esposito contributed to this report.

For more great information on living healthy through every decade of life, click here to check out Dr. Manny’s book The Check List (Harper Collins, 2007).

Dr. Manny Alvarez is the managing editor of health news at, and is a regular medical contributor on the FOX News Channel. He is chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Additionally, Alvarez is Adjunct Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York University School of Medicine in New York City.

Jul 13
Andropause-The “Change of Life” for Men
Posted by mbsilbs in Chiropractic, Diet and Nutrition, Live Well Newsletter Articles on 07 13th, 2010| icon3Comments Off on Andropause-The “Change of Life” for Men

Andropause-The “Change of Life” for Men – By Liz Johnson


Andropause is the slow change that occurs with age in men’s bodies. Some men age gracefully, others get caught in hormonal shifts that effect mood, memory, thinking, sex drive, weight, and more. It is not just testosterone levels that change-thyroid hormones, melatonin, DHEA, DHT, estrogen, 5-alpha reductase, and other hormones shift with age. Just when these shifts occur, and how strongly they affect the body, varies from person to person. It is believed that diet, environment, and genetics all play a role in how andropause affects individual men. The age range for the onset of andropause is pretty wide-anywhere from 35 to 60. So, this is not normally a disorder of rapid changes, but rather a series of slow changes that may go unnoticed for years.

A number of herbs have been used over the years to combat aging and the effects of andropause, from sarsaparilla to he shou wu, Devil’s club to tulsi. Some of these herbs seem to be especially useful for many men with andropause today, and some have lost popularity over the decades but deserve a second look.

Sarsaparilla is one of those herbs that was popular among men a long time ago when it was treated the way ginseng is treated today, as an energy booster. Sarsaparilla contains steroids that the body can convert into other steroids it needs, including estrogen or testosterone, and has been popular as a muscle builder. It makes a tasty addition to a tea and is easy to use.

Saw Palmetto-perhaps best known for helping men with enlarged prostates-also has a place in treatment for andropause as it acts to balance estrogen and testosterone levels in the body. All people make estrogen, just as we all make testosterone. Men make very little estrogen, but when that little bit is out of balance with testosterone levels, it can make a big difference in how men feel, think, and behave. Not only does estrogen affect how we think, but it also inhibits the breakdown of DHT. This is one reason it is useful in fighting prostate enlargement.

What is DHT? DHT, or dihydrostestosterone, is a form of testosterone that makes boys, boys-and men, men. Its levels in the body increase with age, and when the body feels it is getting too much DHT, andropause can set in. There are two ways that the body can think it is getting too much DHT. The level of DHT can be normal, but the other hormones it needs to balance with can be off, making the body feel as though there is too much DHT. Alternately, there can just be too much DHT!

DHT can do some wonderful things, like making men, men. It can also have a positive effect on certain cancers, create hairy chests and strong beards. It also encourages baldness, prostate enlargement, possibly prostate cancers, and more. So it has its good points and its bad points. The key is to keep production and reception of DHT at healthy levels and to keep DHT in a good balance with other hormones, like testosterone and estrogen.

One more little chemical the body produces also affects andropause: 5-alpha reductase. As we age, men produce more 5-alpha reductase, a chemical that gets the body to convert testosterone to DHT. As the level of 5-alpha reductase increases, so does the amount of DHT in the body. Saw Palmetto inhibits the production of 5-alpha reductase, keeps what DHT is made of from binding with all of the cells it can, and encourages the breakdown of DHT. This is yet another reason for Saw Palmetto in men’s health.

An herb that is often associated with women also deserves a place here: Black Cohosh. It is useful in andropause, in part, for the same reason it is useful to women. Black Cohosh inhibits luteinizing hormone, or LH. LH rises as we age. This hormone has an effect on estrogen, which brings us back to the importance of healthy estrogen levels and a healthy balance of estrogen to testosterone. This is where Black Cohosh has an important role to play in men’s health.

Pumpkin seeds are also a wonderful food and herb for men. Known for their high zinc content, pumpkin seeds go a long way in feeding healthy drives in men as well as women. Zinc is another fighter of 5-alpha reductase, so it brings testosterone levels up and DHT levels down.

Milk thistle, a classic liver booster, can play an important role in helping the liver deal with changing hormone levels and the demands that this can place on the liver. Milk thistle also helps to repair liver from damage that can be done over the years by poor diet, drinking, medications, and other stressors.

Herbs that are popular for helping the body maintain a healthy hormone balance include ginseng. Ginseng may not be the best choice for all men. Many an amateur has used it to boost energy levels, but there are other, easier-to-use herbs. These herbs can often be used for longer periods of time and are not as easy to overdo. They include Fo Ti, or He Shou Wu, also Gotu Cola, Eleuthero, Angelica, Muira Puma, Maca, Ashwagandha, Tulsi, and more. Each has its own unique effects, but all are classified as adaptogens, like ginseng. Adaptogens help the body deal with stress-a major contributor to andropause. Finding the right adaptogen, or the right blend of adaptogens, can be done by trial and error, or with the help of a professional herbalist.

Occasional use of Tribulus can be a good way to achieve a romantic evening and is often recommended for andropause. The catch with this herb is that its cumulative effect is much like the boy who cried, “Wolf!” Eventually the body doesn’t believe the Tribulus and allows the testosterone levels to sink even lower than they were before. Despite the promotion that this herb gets, this is not a good herb for daily use for most men. It has its place in infertility treatments and impotence treatments, but professional help is advisable before using Tribulus.

So many wonderful herbs help us to stay happy and healthy that there simply is not enough space in an article to cover all of the possibilities. Cautious exploration, with safety in mind, can bring great rewards. Check with experts qualified in the use of herbs before use.

Liz Johnson is a local herbalist with nearly twenty years experience. Visit for more information about her practice and classes. Or reach Liz at 952-846-7464.