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Acupuncturist Sarah George does a great job answering that question here:
Worth checking out! 


Flu Season

The country is currently being ravaged by some serious epidemics, including a nasty flu.  Recently the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) labeled the current flu season one of the worst in the last 10 years. Officials in Boston declared a health emergency this week due to the number of flu patients flooding emergency rooms.

There are at least three current flu or flu like epidemics at work: first, the annual flu season got off to an early start with an extraordinarily aggressive virus, secondly there’s a new type of norovirus causing gastrointestinal illness, and as if that weren’t enough we’ve also got a whooping cough outbreak to deal with, the worst in 60 years.

These extraordinary events are happening amid the normal winter cold and flu season.  The major flu strain going around is an H3N2 and is becoming known for causing substantially severe illness, especially in the elderly.  This is in addition to the stomach flu caused by the norovirus, which feels similar to a bad case of food poisoning (severe diarrhea and vomiting) *and* the outbreak of whooping cough (pertussis), which according to the CDC has so far seen 42,000 cases (the highest since 1955).

Now I cannot give medical advice, and nothing in this post is intended to cure, treat or prevent any disease; before making any changes to your health care regimen consult your licensed healthcare professional.  Having said that, here’s what I personally am doing to help protect myself from these illnesses:

(1) I take at least 2,000 IU of vitamin D with a meal containing a good amount of omega 3 oils.  The best available evidence shows that 2-5000 IU of vitamin D does as well or better at preventing flu (and not only the flu but other respiratory illnesses) than flu shots.  I also make sure I’m getting enough vitamin C.

(2) I use alcohol hand sanitizer everywhere I go, and use it before eating and after touching frequently used items like supermarket baskets or  carts.  In addition I add some essential oils, like the famous Thieves’ Oil combination, to the hand sanitizer.  I also wash my hands first thing when I get home.

(3) I have the Chinese herbal formulas Yin Chiao Chieh Tu Pien and Gan Mao Ling on hand and take a dose of each whenever I’ve been exposed to someone sick.  If I know I’m going to be exposed, I use an essential oil rub containing oils such as eucalyptus, basil, oregano, and cinnamon leaf (diluted at least 10:1 with a carrier oil like olive, rapeseed, etc. or mixed with alcohol in a spray bottle) and rub a little into my hands and under my nose.

(4) I take the Chinese herbal formula Jade Windscreen, or other tonic adaptogenic herbs such as Devil’s Club root, Eleuthero, or Reishi mushroom, to help keep my immune system strong.

(5) I add a variety of mushrooms, including shiitake mushrooms, to my diet.

(6) If I’m out of Yin Chiao or Gan Mao Ling, I make and drink what IMHO is a great combination of herbs, ingredients as follows: 1 tbsp fresh basil, 2 tsp fresh oregano, 2 cloves crushed garlic (note: it’s very important the cloves be crushed, not simply chopped), the juice of one lime or half a lemon, 2 tsp fresh ginger, one half cup water; I put in a blender and blend thoroughly.  I try to drink this whenever I start to feel an illness coming on, and every time I’ve tried it it’s stopped the bug in its tracks.   Although these are common kitchen herbs, if you research them you’ll see they all have powerful antibiotic and antiviral properties.  I actually think this mixture is more powerful than the herbal formulas I mentioned above, but it’s easier to take a few tablets than to have to make and drink this impressive-tasting formula 🙂

Best of luck to everyone in staying healthy this winter!

Do you have any special tips or tricks that help you stay healthy?  Please share, I’d love to hear from you!

Heartwarming Story

This WWII veteran, who suffered for years from debilitating pain, has been cured by acupuncture. I always like hearing this kind of story, especially since he was so skeptical to begin with. Skeptics can still try to be curmudgeons and pooh pooh this kind of thing, but after you hear case after case like this they start to look more and more silly 🙂

My former teacher, Stephen Birch, wrote this excellent article on problems with the famous German acupuncture studies that everyone’s still talking about. The problems he discusses are all too common in the field of acupuncture research.

This interesting study: shows one reason why acupuncture is likely to benefit the elderly. I like how the authors are cautious in their conclusions, being careful not to make grandiose statements that go beyond the data.

Starting Saturday, April 21st, we are going to offer a free Veteran’s clinic at OHCA, first and third Saturdays of the month from 1 to 5 pm. Acupuncture can help relieve pain, reduce symptoms of stress and trauma such as PTSD, boost energy, and reawaken the inherent healing processes of the body to restore health and well-being. The acupuncture will be free of charge to veterans. You can make an appointment online (Click here), or by calling (206) 659-9598; walk-ins are also welcome.

OHCA is not officially affiliated with AWB (Acupuncturists Without Borders) or SAVe (Seattle Acupuncture for Veterans), mainly because I don’t want us to be limited to the 5 needle protocol. AWB and SAVe have been doing excellent work with the 5 NP, and veterans going to those clinics “are experiencing benefits such as a full night’s sleep for the first time in years and fewer bad dreams. They are reporting improved mental clarity, less anxiety and a reduction in stress. Acupuncture is currently being investigated by the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C. as a viable treatment modality for PTSD in returning veterans and the military has started using acupuncture in the battlefield to help with pain” (from But I’ve long felt the need to provide a space where veterans can be treated with attention to their individual complaints, so at OHCA we’re going to treat individually, just like regular community acupuncture.

If you know any veteran who could use our services – or practitioner willing to donate their time here – please pass this info on. Thank you!

This article summarizes some of the evidence available showing that vitamin D, especially at the 2,000 IU per day dosage, substantially reduces the incidence of colds or flu. The protective effect is comparable to or superior to that suggested by the best numbers available for the protective effect of flu vaccines (which of course aren’t likely to prevent colds). In addition to having no adverse side effects at that dosage, vitamin D has many other benefits, such as preventing asthma attacks, helping to maintain bone density, and possibly preventing multiple sclerosis. Perhaps that’s why Seattle has such a high incidence of MS: people don’t get enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D can be harmful at high doses – 100,000 IU or more – so one should be careful and know the exact amount contained in whatever supplement you choose to take.

This study,, shows that flax oil can reduce the spread of prostate cancer even when you start taking it after the diagnosis. It seems likely, then, that flax may prevent or delay the onset of prostate cancer if one starts early.

This one shows evidence that acupuncture helps labor and labor pain, while this study shows that acupuncture and ginger likely help morning sickness. A word of warning, though: large amounts of ginger can cause a miscarriage, so be careful.

MRI Study

In this <A HREF="study, an MRI was done on patients in pain, some who were receiving acupuncture and some who weren’t. The results are interesting!