Music

Melodies to Mend By

Opinions vary as to why music has such a profound effect on humans. At least some of its therapeutic power comes from its ability to trigger the release of endorphins, the powerful opiate-like chemicals produced in the brain that induce euphoria and relieve pain. In fact, researchers have discovered that if they administer drugs that block the production of endorphins, they significantly blunt a person’s enjoyment of music, according to David S. Sobel, M.D., director of patient education and health promotion for Kaiser Permanente Northern California, a health maintenance organization.

Music triggers other positive changes, too. It reduces levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline. It has a calming effect on the limbic system, a group of structures within the brain that regulates emotions. And it boosts levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), the body’s first line of defense against colds and other infections.

Of course, music is no cure-all. But it can do some very remarkable things for the body and mind. It has been shown to help heart attack and surgical recovery, chronic-pain management, stroke rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s care, and alleviation of depression.

In one study of people who had suffered heart attacks, eighty people-all newly admitted to hospital coronary care units­were divided into three groups. One group listened to a 20-minute audiotape of calming music; another practiced breathing and meditation to invoke a sense of calm, called the relaxation response; and the third received only standard care. The patients in the music and relaxation response groups showed significant reductions in heart rate and levels of stress hormones, compared with the patients in the standard care group. But the folks who listened to music were the least stressed, suggesting that music is even more relaxing than meditation.

Another study showed the effectiveness of using music for management of chronic pain. At the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing in Omaha, Lani Zimmerman, R.N., Ph.D., associate professor of nursing, gave 40 people with chronic pain a collection of ten music audiotapes. She asked each patient to select one tape that was most relaxing. The patients reported significantly less pain while listening to their tapes. Other studies have shown that music can reduce a hospital patient’s need for pain medication by as much as 30 percent.

Music has also been proven beneficial in management of depression. In one study, people with serious depression were separated into three groups. One group received weekly visits from music therapists, who played music and offered instruction in stress management techniques. Another group received weekly phone calls from music therapists and taped music to play independently. The third group received no treatment. All of the patients who listened to music-whether with a therapist or alone-showed significant improvement in mood, compared with the patients who didn’t listen to music.

Music to your Ears

Studies of music therapy have shown that, in general, soothing, slow-tempo tunes work best for relaxation, stress management, and recovery from illness. But if you’re looking to boost your energy level and productivity, or if you want a sound­track for your workout, choose music that has an upbeat tempo but isn’t bombastic.

Most people get the greatest benefit from music that they’ve selected on their own­no matter what it is, notes music therapist Clare O’Callaghan of the University of Melbourne in Australia. That’s because people choose what they like, which helps motivate them and gives them a sense of personal empowerment. If you’d like to give a family member or friend a calming audiotape or CD but you don’t know the person’s tastes, stick with songs that were popular when he was young. This is the time of life when a person’s musical preferences are formed.

Cabbage Soup Diet

With increase in craze for crash diets, new diet plans are emerging all over the world. One such plan is the Lettuce Soup diet. The origin of this diet is still unknown, however one just wants to know whether it is effective and not who formulated it. Some of them found this to be effective and few others found it to be a mere waste.
Overview of the Lettuce Diet

The lettuce diet is a low calorie and low carb diet. As this falls in the category of crash diets, this has to be followed continuously for a week. However, this provides a temporary solution only, by reducing the intake of calories. As the name infers, this diet involves lot of lettuce in your meal. It was framed with an assumption that lettuce has the power to burn fat. This, till date, has remained as an assumption alone and never was proved. Thus no wonder some people don’t get fruitful results out of this.

Who Should Follow This Diet?

Only those who want to drastically come down in weight and above all those who love lettuce can opt for this diet plan. Also this diet plan has to be followed strictly to get the results which means feeding on lettuce for about a week or so. There is no pre-defined recipe for this soup so any lettuce soup would suffice. Other than this, other food items can be taken but in a moderate level and you can drink any amount of water and juices but preferably unsweetened juice.

According to this, the first day plays a vital role and only lettuce has to be taken that day and you should not take banana for sure. No proper explanation has been given for this. On the second day, some more lettuce soup can be taken along with some vegetables. When it comes to potato, only one is permitted. On the third day, the lettuce soup quantity is increased comparatively. Added to this are fruits and vegetables except bananas and potatoes. Again for this no explanation has been given. There is a slight improvement in your diet on the fourth day. Bananas are allowed along with the lettuce soup and also you can take skimmed milk. On the fifth and sixth days, along with soup you can take beef and vegetables but no potatoes. And on the final day, soup with vegetables and brown rice is permitted. At last, you come to an end of the diet process.

Net Result of This Diet

You can find a severe change in your weight but this loss will be gained once you tune back to your regular diet. The faster you shed pound, the faster you gain them. Thus this is exclusively for temporary basis and is advantageous if you want to shed pounds for a special event. If you prefer this diet, see that you make your soup tastier so that the seven days aren’t hard for you.

Hellerwork

Hellerwork is based on the bodywork methods of Ida Rolf, adding the elements of manipulation and movement coaching using video feedback. It also specifically involves dialogue between client and practitioner to explore the mind-body connection.

Designed to realign and balance the body systematically, therapy thus normally consists of a series of 11 sessions of deep-tissue bodywork and movement “education.” Each session lasts for 90 minutes. Hellerwork practitioners claim that the method can relieve aches and pains, improve posture, dissipate tension, increase relaxation, extend overall flexibility and sporting ability, and enhance body awareness.

Eastern Traditions

Drawing on ancient traditions said to go back at least 3,000 years, Oriental movement and balance therapies aim to affect the flow of life energy, or chi. They encourage sensitivity and flexibility in the body while at the same time utilizing breath control and an inner focus to free up energy blockages and increase energy levels. T’ ai chi and chi kung, for example, are practiced on a daily basis by hundreds of millions of people in China, where they also form part of normal hospital therapy.

Cancer

Cancer is our nation’s most feared diagnosis. It’s also the second leading cause of death (after heart disease), claiming more than 550,000 lives a year.

Cancer is not one disease. Rather, it’s one name for more than 200 diseases, all of which develop similarly. Initially, something goes wrong with cell reproduction. Instead of dividing normally, cells that become cancerous reproduce wildly, producing abnormal growths-what we call tumors. Tumor cells spread (metastasize) around the body, forming more tumors. If tumor growth can’t be stopped, it interferes with vital body processes.

Often, cancer can be detected early, when tumors are tiny and have not spread. Doctors agree that early diagnosis is best because small, local tumors tend to be most treatable. But no matter how early it’s caught, no one wants to hear a doctor say, “I’m sorry, it’s cancer.”

Because cancer is not one disease but many, survival depends to a great extent on the type of cancer you have. When diagnosed early, cervical cancer, testicular cancer, skin cancers, and most childhood cancers are very treatable-in fact, curable. But other cancers-including those of the pancreas, liver, and lungs-usually don’t respond as well to treatment.

“A cancer diagnosis is like being pushed out of a helicopter into a jungle war with no training, no maps, and no idea how to survive,” says Michael Lerner, Ph.D., cofounder of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program, an organization based in Bolinas, California, which hosts weeklong educational retreats for people with cancer.

In 1981, Dr. Lerner, a former Yale professor, learned that his father, Max Lerner, had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the same cancer that killed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Though the doctors predicted that Max Lerner had only a short time to live, the prediction was in error. Using only mainstream chemotherapy, Dr. Lerner’s father survived for 11 years.

During his father’s illness, the younger Lerner became fascinated by the then-acrimonious war of words between mainstream oncology and the alternative cancer therapies. He used the money from a MacArthur Foundation genius grant to travel around the world exploring alternative cancer centers. He became convinced that both conventional and alternative approaches have value. The best results, he concluded, usually emerge from a blending of conventional and alternative medicine.

As a result of his research, Dr. Lerner helped launch the Commonweal Cancer Help Program, which teaches people with cancer how to deal with the disease.

In the Cancer Help Program, training includes a vegetarian diet, daily exercise, daily meetings with a support group, and massage and other relaxation therapies. For more information, contact the Commonweal Cancer Help Program. P. O. Box 316, Bolinas, CA 94924.

Treating cancer also involves a big dose of hope. Expectations for long-term cancer survival have increased dramatically in recent decades. Before World War II, surviving with cancer 5 years after diagnosis was considered the exception. Today, it’s the rule. About 60 percent of people who have been diagnosed with cancer survive at least 5 years, and many live much longer.

About 40 percent of Americans are diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, but only about 20 percent die from it. In fact, some 8.2 million living Americans are cancer survivors. If you walk into a room of 33 people, chances are that one of them is a cancer survivor.

“After decades of frustration, we’ve flllally turned the corner,” says James Dougherty, M.D., deputy physician in chief for clinical affairs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

What has turned things around? “Not a miracle cure-at least not yet,” Dr. Dougherty says. “But little by little, we’ve made incremental progress against the disease. We’ve learned more about how it works, and we’ve gotten better at preventing it, detecting it early, and treating it. We still have a long way to go, of course. But the death rate is falling, which is very good news.”

Since 1990, hundreds of studies have been published supporting the value of alternative therapies for cancer treatment. The evidence clearly shows that the best results-longer cancer-free survival and improved quality of life-come from blending mainstream oncology and alternative therapies. As a result, blended cancer therapy is on the rise. By some estimates, up to 64 percent of cancer patients try at least one alternative approach.

No matter what kind of cancer you have, the experts agree that a step-by-step approach is the way to go.

Ayurvedic Medicine

Diagnoses and Therapies

In the United States, some Ayurvedic physicians adhere to very traditional Ayurvedic philosophy and practices. Others practice Maharishi Ayurveda, an Americanized discipline created in the 1980s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Traditional and Maharishi Ayurveda are quite similar, with the latter relying a bit more heavily on transcendental meditation.

Regardless of which school they espouse, all Ayurvedic physicians follow pretty much the same protocol for diagnosing disease. They shun most mainstream diagnostic tools in favor of alternative evaluation procedures, such as the following:

Questionnaire. An Ayurvedic physician has each patient complete a simple questionnaire. By evaluating the patient’s responses, the physician can determine that person’s dominant dosha, or constitution (Vata, Pitta, or Kapha).

Physical examination. Both mainstream and Ayurvedic physicians rely on the physical exam as a diagnostic tool. But an Ayurvedic physician pays particular attention to a patient’s skin, nails, tongue, and other physical features. In these features, the practitioner can detect patterns that reveal the influence of each of the three doshas.

Pulse examination. Pulse examination is a subtle art that takes years to master. The physician usually monitors the pulse at the radial artery, located on the inner wrist at the base of the thumb. Certain patterns in the pulse indicate specific imbalances among the doshas. A pulse that resembles the movement of a snake, for example, suggests excessive Vata dosha.

Urine examination. First, the physician examines the color of the urine sample. Pale yellow urine signifies excessive Vata; bright yellow urine, excessive Pitta; and foamy white urine, excessive Kapha. Next, the physician adds a few drops of sesame oil to the sample and examines it in sunlight, monitoring the dispersal and movement of the oil through the urine. Based on his observations, the physician can detect imbalances among the doshas.

Once they’ve made a diagnosis, Ayurvedic physicians combine a number of different therapies in a comprehensive treatment program. Those therapies include diet, exercise, meditation, massage, and herbal medicine. In addition, the Ayurvedic physician may recommend various amounts of sun exposure, depending on their patients’ dosha profiles.

Acupuncture

An Accidental Discovery

According to legend, an ancient Chinese soldier developed an illness that his physicians could not cure. The soldier was later struck with an arrow in battle, receiving a superficial wound. The wound healed, and oddly, so did his illness.

Intrigued, Chinese medicine doctors began recording the places where stabbing wounds produced improbable healing. Their observations became the basis of acupuncture and its offshoots: acupressure, which uses finger pressure instead of needles; shiatsu, a Japanese massage therapy; and reflexology, acupressure massage of the feet or hands.

Not surprisingly, qi is central to acupuncture. It circulates around the body along meandering pathways called meridians, each linked to a particular organ network like qi itself, the meridians are invisible and cannot be found by dissection.

Oriental medicine doctors recognize 12 meridians that pass close to the surface of the skin at tender spots called men, meaning “gates” but translated as “points.” At these spots, insertion of needles strengthens deficient qi or disperses congested qi.

Depending which acupuncture “school” you ascribe to, the number of acupuncture points around the body can range from 360 to 2,000. In practice, most acupuncturists use less than 150. Many of the points have poetic names such as Elegant Mansion or Sea of Tranquillity.

Acupuncture points are plentiful in the ears, hands, and feet, where meridians converge. Some practitioners specialize in performing acupuncture on one specific body part. For example, those who engage in ear acupuncture are called auriculotherapists, while those who focus on the feet or hands are called reflexologists.

Traditional Chinese acupuncturists supplement needling with a heat treatment called moxibustion, which involves burning the medicinal herb moxa (Chinese mugwort). Powdered mugwort is shaped into small cones similar to incense. It may be burned directly on the skin over acupuncture points, on a thin layer of soybean paste on the point, on a slice of gingerroot, or on acupuncture needles themselves.

“Moxibustion is invigorating;’ Dr. Korngold explains. “It’s used to treat conditions involving Cold or deficiency of qi.” Some acupuncturists have replaced moxibustion with low-voltage electric current, especially for the treatment of pain.

An enormous number of studies have proven acupuncture to be a remarkably effective alternative therapy for an array of conditions, including osteoarthritis, migraine, nausea, menstrual cramps, and depression. Acupuncture has even been used effectively for the treatment of alcoholism.

What to Expect

A good acupuncturist generally gets results in 6 to 12 sessions. Depending on the severity of the problem, treatment might begin as frequently as once or twice a day. Continued treatment typically takes place once or twice a week, then once or twice a month, with periodic “tune-ups” after that.

Does acupuncture hurt? “Rarely,” says acupuncture researcher George A. Ulett, M.D., Ph.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. The needles are very fine, and insertion typically feels no worse than a little pinch followed by numbness, warmth, tingling, heaviness, or a dull ache.

Many people who’ve undergone acupuncture say they experience relaxation, mood elevation, and a dreamy sense of well­being during their treatment sessions. Afterward, some people feel energized, while others feel drowsy. Still others report a transient increase in symptoms. This, Chinese physicians say, is a sign that the body is marshaling its energy to overcome the problem.

Is acupuncture safe? “Very,” Dr. Ulett says, “assuming that the practitioner uses sterile needles.” His opinion was recently corroborated by Arne ]ohan Norheim, an acupuncturist at the University of Tromso Medical School in Norway, who searched the world medical literature for reports of harm from acupuncture. The results: 193 mishaps-remarkably few considering the millions of acupuncture treatments each year. The most common adverse effect was infection caused by the use of nonsterile needles. Make sure that your acupuncturist uses sterilized or disposable needles.

Spotlight on Ayurvedic Herbs

Beyond dietary changes, Ayurveda embraces an array of alternative therapies: exercise, especially yoga; stress-management techniques, including meditation and massage; and herbal medicine. Each of these therapies has been the subject of a battery of scientific studies. Perhaps the most intriguing research relevant to Ayurvedic medicine centers on herbal medicine-specifically, on two related Ayurvedic herbal formulas.

Both formulas are called Maharishi Amrit Kalash, or MAK for short. To distinguish them from one another, they have been assigned numbers. MAK-4 contains raw sugar, ghee (clarified butter, a staple in many Ayurvedic remedies), Indian gallnut, Indian gooseberry, Indian pennywort, honey, nut­grass, white sandalwood, butterfly pea, shoeflower, aloewood, licorice, cardamom, cinnamon, cyperus, and turmeric. MAK-5 is made from black musale, heart-leaved moonseed, butterfly pea, licorice, elephant creeper, Indian wild pepper, and three herbs with no English common names (Gymnema aurentiacum, Sphaerantus indicus, and Yanda spatulatum).

MAK-4 and MAK-5 have undergone laboratory testing at the hands of several scientists. These researchers have uncovered evidence that both MAK formulas may provide a number of health benefits. Studies have shown that these formulas-taken separately or together-may help relieve angina, allergies, and the side effects of chemotherapy. And animal studies suggest that MAK-4 might help shrink breast tumors. The MAK formulas have also helped some people improve their eyesight.

As scientists uncover more information about the therapeutic properties of MAK-4 and MAK-5, both formulas may become more widely available. For now, though, they must be obtained from an Ayurvedic practitioner.

Chiropractic – From Obscurity to Controversy

Spinal manipulation, which is at the heart of chiropractic, has been an integral part of massage-type therapies since ancient times. The ancient Chinese practiced it. The Greek physician Hippocrates recommended it. And the Greco-Roman physician Galen reported curing hand weakness and numbness by manipulating the seventh cervical vertebra, which is located at the base of the neck.

But the specific type of spinal manipulation used in chiropractic was accidentally discovered in 1895 by Daniel David (D. D.) Palmer of Davenport, Iowa. Palmer ran a fish store, but he practiced laying on of hands­a combination of massage and hypnotherapy-on the side.

In 1899, Palmer opened a chiropractic school in Davenport. (It’s still the largest and best-known chiropractic training program in the United States.) He enrolled only a handful of students in the first few years­one of whom was his own son, Bartlett Joshua, better known as B. J.

B. J. Palmer became the chief promoter of chiropractic and an outspoken critic of mainstream medicine. His flamboyance at­tracted scores more students to his father’s school. But his M.D. bashing rankled the medical establishment. Davenport’s main­stream doctors persuaded local authorities to arrest both Palmers. The charge: practicing medicine without a license.

During the 1920s, many chiropractors spent time in jail on similar charges. But prosecutors couldn’t find people to testify that they had been harmed by chiropractic. Eventually, the arrests ceased. By the 1930s, states began licensing chiropractors. By 1974, chiropractic was legal in all 50 states, and about 23,000 licensed chiropractors were treating about eight million Americans.

The “New” Chiropractic

A cornerstone of mainstream medicine’s criticism of chiropractic has been that the spinal misalignment that D. D. Palmer postulated (called subluxations) can’t been seen on x-rays. Many chiropractors have questioned the concept of subluxations as well. “Positive health changes have never been convincingly correlated with vertebral alignment,” notes Daniel Redwood, D.c., a chiropractic physician at Atlantic Chiropractic in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “After an adjustment resulting in dramatic relief from back or headache pain, x-rays rarely show any discernible change in spinal alignment.” In addition, a landmark 1994 study found that many people who don’t have back pain do have significant spinal misalignment.

According to the current theory, chiropractic works not by realigning vertebrae but by normalizing the motion of the vertebrae as they move against one another. Very subtle changes in the motion of the vertebrae can have a profound impact on the nerves that run through them. One study showed that even the very smallest amount of pressure on the nerve root can decrease electrical transmission through the nerve by as much as 50 percent. These findings make chiropractic seem more like acupuncture. Both therapies seek to free blocked energy within the body, though by different means. And both therapies stimulate the production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers.

As acupuncture and other alternative therapies have grown in popularity, most chiropractors have expanded their practices. These days, only 15 percent of chiropractors-the “straights” -limit themselves to spinal manipulation. The remaining 85 percent-the “mixers” -may blend spinal manipulation with Western medicine or with other alternative disciplines such as Chinese herbal medicine, relaxation therapies, and nutritional therapies.

Chiropractic

Of the various alternative healing systems available ill the United States, chiropractic is by far the most popular. The more than 50,000 licensed doctors of chiropractic (D.Cs) make up the nation’s third largest medical profession, after M.D.’s and dentists. And they’re licensed to practice in every state.

According to a landmark Harvard Medical School survey assessing Americans’ use of alternative therapies, 10 percent of the population visits chiropractors at least once a year. People rate chiropractic as their first choice for treating back problems. Overall, it is the second most popular professionally provided alternative therapy-second only to relaxation therapies.

A handful of chiropractors present them­selves as primary-care physicians capable of treating the same broad range of conditions as family practice M.D.’s. But the vast majority of chiropractors deal almost exclusively with back problems, joint problems, and muscle aches and pains-what doctors batch together as “musculoskeletal complaints.” As many as 90 percent of people who consult chiropractors do so for back pain, neck pain, and headaches (which are often related to muscle tension).

The word chiropractic comes from the Greek cheir, meaning “hand;’ and praxis, meaning “practice.” As a system of treatment, chiropractic is the best example of the mainstreaming of alternative therapies. Chiropractors now serve on the staffs of many hospitals around the country. They’ve become a fixture in sports medicine-in fact, the U.S. Olympic team has its own chiropractor.

Many M.D.’s are quite familiar with the benefits of chiropractic and willingly refer patients to chiropractors when it seems appropriate. In a study by Daniel 1. Blumberg, M.D., of the department of psychiatry at the State University of New York Health Science Center at Syracuse, the majority of primarycare M.D.’s recognized chiropractic as an effective therapy for back pain and said that they would feel comfortable sending patients with back pain to chiropractors for treatment.