Beta blockers are a medication that is commonly provided during chronic congestive heart failure. Beta blockers create an environment for your heart not to contract as strongly as it would so that it can preserve the heart function for a longer period of time.
In this second blog on the article from WebMD titled, "Acupuncture Improves Function in Heart Failure Patients" we will analyze more of the basis of the improved health for patients with congestive heart failure.
The article concludes that how acupuncture was able to help with the symptoms of congestive heart failure is due to the fact that it was helping with regulating the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is the fight or flight mode of the body. Whenever you are under a high-stress condition, the sympathetic nervous system comes in. The article makes a great point that the sympathetic nervous system allows for the body to deliver increased amounts of blood to all parts of your body, to help you escape or deal with the danger ahead of you. The problem is that if this system is on all the time this can lead to big problems. The body can only demand so much increased blood flow from the heart before the heart starts having physical difficulties meeting the demands.
In most patients with congestive heart failure, there appears to be an increase in activity of the sympathetic nervous system. The increased stress on the body occurs as the person tries to compensate for the decreased amount of oxygen in the body. This creates in them a chronic increase in the sympathetic nervous system as the body almost panics as it tries to find a way to deliver more oxygen. This then leads the body to go to the heart to strengthen contractions but this short term solution only leads to a long term problem, as the heart begins to weaken.
One of the doctor's in the study stated, "Advanced heart failure patients have two or three times more sympathetic nerve activity than normal individuals. It has been shown that the greater this activity this is, the worse the outlook for the patient, so reducing it could be crucial." I couldn't agree more with that statement. I believe that a large part of my patients with chronic heart problems, including congestive heart failure, are doing better due to helping regulate the central nervous system. This aspect of stepping back and looking at the body as a whole is crucial to supporting the overall health of individuals with chronic ailments, and is an aspect that I hope continues to grow in medicine.
This article, published on WebMD, shows the power of acupuncture when it comes to improving the health of individuals with congestive heart failure. What is interesting about this article is that it showed that there was an improvement in the most severe cases of congestive heart failure. It is unfortunate that many cardiologists are not well versed in the studies of acupuncture and chronic heart problems.
One of the many logical conclusions of this finding can only be, how can acupuncture help with individuals with milder forms of congestive heart failure? It is important to keep an open mind even under the most severe forms of congestive heart failure, as many specialists will convince you that alternative methods are not worth pursuing. Don’t let the specialists in your care convince you that you are wasting your time. Unfortunately, this is something that happens too often when it comes to specialists that are only well versed with the current standardized medical treatment.
Meditation allows us to be put back in a place of peace and self realization. It also allows to give as a place where we can see that our thoughts are really under our control. And as so often is the case a lot of the consequences that occur in life, especially our health are really due to where the energy of the mind is devoted to. Perhaps one of the most amazing effects the mind can have is on the immune system. This can be seen through these couple of studies that show it’s effect on patients with HIV, and a relationship between meditation and number of health care visits a person is likely to have.
Meditation may actually increase white blood cells in those with HIV. HIV being a virus where the immune cells are attacked and eventually to the point where the immune system can't mount a response to invading pathogens. The correlation was strong enough that the scientists we’re able to see that the more mindfulness classes a participant was involved in meant higher immune cells. The study concludes that meditation is a great way to provide additional support to pharmaceutical therapy in people with HIV. And in another study individuals that meditate also show a decrease number of doctor offices and even ER visits as well. Which is actually quite amazing to think about that spending a small part of your day can decrease your chances of going to the ER!
So the importance of meditation on our overall well-being cannot be understated and in our society unfortunately it is greatly undervalued compared to other countries such as China where meditation is a part of life.
In the following I have written steps to meditate. I hope you enjoy!
1. Sitting relaxed on a chair with your back straight, take a deep breath to the count of five.
2. Slowly breathe out to the count of 10.
3. Do this 10 times.
4. While breathing bring your attention to the area right below and behind your belly button. Just imagine the air coming down and connecting to that part of your body. At first you will often find it difficult to keep your attention there and keep your thoughts from wandering, but don’t get frustrated! Just gradually bring your attention back to your breath. This exercise will become easier the more that you do it.
5. After you do this continue throughout your day and put this meditation out of your mind.
1) Relaxation Response and Resiliency Training and Its Effect on Healthcare Resource Utilization. James E. Stahl.
2) Mindfulness Meditation Training Effects on CD4_ T lymphocytes in HIV-1 Infected Adults: a Small Randomized Controlled Trial. Creswell JD.
In this time the weather is incredible the sun is shinning and its just a great time to be outside. Walks, hiking, getting together with family, and sports are all waiting for you outside so having seasonal allergies can bring down a time that should be full of joy. So here are 3 supplements that are wonderful for combating seasonal allergies and ones that I prescribe to my patients.
1) NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)
NAC is an amino acid that can be classified as a mycolytic, that means that it helps to break apart mucus so that it can be easier to cough out or blow out through your nose. The fact that its an amino acid is also a plus because amino acids are the building blocks of all proteins.
I would recommend taking this supplement with foods.
Dosage: 1-3 grams daily are used in most clinical trials.
2) Fish Oil
Omega -3 fatty acids which are found in high concentrations in fish oil are anti-inflammatory in nature. You can think of inflammation as being to active when it comes to seasonal allergies. Inflammation is very important when it comes to the immune system, but if it gets too activeted then it can become a problem. Fish oils will help to decrease the total inflammation in the body and also immune response to the pollen that is occurring.
Dosage: 1-3 grams daily
Contraindications: Caution if you are using blood thinners.
3) Vitamin D
Vitamin D is actually a hormone that your body produces that requires sun light to turn into its active form. So without sunlight you body may be prone to not having this necessary hormone in your body circulating at levels that it should be.
I recommend that Vitamin D levels be established before taking a supplement because perhaps you really aren't deficient in it or perhaps you are severely deficient and you need high doses of it.
Dosage: Seek primary care provider for labratory findings on Vitamin D levels. Most clinical experiences have Vitamin D from 400 IU to 4000 IU. Also, new research is coming out stating that vitamin K supplement is important as well when you are taking Vitamin D because it allows it to be properly stored in your bones.
The immune system and our emotions are closely related. This relationship has even crated a new field in medicine called the psyconeuroimmunology. We can think of stress and anxiety causing a wide range of changes to our body. These changes may result an increase in allergies.
One study showed there was difference in intensity of allergies and personality traits supporting the link between the mind and allergic symptoms. The personality traits that the study looked at included depression, anxiety and hysteria. The study also concluded that one of the mechanisms of action that the link between stress and allergies may be due to cortisol levels. I'll be doing a future blog on what is cortisol and the proper management of cortisol for a healthy mind.
Another study looked at asthma which is often induced by allergies. This study analyzed college students during the middle of the term and the last week of the term where finals where going to take place. The sputum of the participants were analyzed and they found that there was an increase in inflammatory mediatiors and immune cells especially eosinohpils. Eosinophils are directly involved in productions of many of the allergy symptoms such as stuffy nose, itchy eyes and congestion.
The importance of looking at stress is not only limited to allergies but to a wide range of other diseases including cancer, HIV, and irritable bowel syndrome. The linkage between mind and body is one of the cores in naturopathic medicine. Life style changes is what I like to address with every patient in one way or another. Like many other health problems that we face the exact cause of it is complex and often requires a team in order to get the root of the cause.
Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2011 Feb; 31 (1): 55-68