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Issue 34

in the

understanding the cancer experience

Complementary Therapy For Cancer Patients Understanding your alternatives

IN BOARD OF DIRECTORS Officers: Gordon L. Black, M.D., Lifetime Honorary Director Polly Vaughn, President Patricia Carter, RN., M.S.N., Vice-President Victor Mascorro, Jr., Secretary Treasurer Dan Olivas, Immediate Past President Directors Jeanne Foskett Monica Gomez Youn-Mi Jaquez Scott Orjada, R.N., B.S.N. Irene Pistella Sam Shallenberger Ruben Schaeffer Ken Slavin Katie Updike Glenda Villatoro, R.N., B.S.N. Steve Yellen EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Patricia Tiscareño PROGRAM COORDINATOR Cindi Martinez ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANTS Maggie Rodriguez Rachel Juarez

in the

know is published by the

Rio Grande Cancer Foundation 10460 Vista del Sol, Suite 101 El Paso, TX 79925 (915) 562-7660 fax (915) 562-7841 by

Snappy Publishing El Paso, Texas 79912 (915) 820-2800

THIS ISSUE: Complementary Therapy

Anyone undergoing cancer treatment will tell you that the ammunition in the battle includes medicine, mental attitude and a strong support network. It isn’t won through a solitary course of treatment or on an individual basis, but rather with a combination of many things. Recently within the field of cancer treatment, the newly emerging field of Integrative Medicine (IM), which strives to balance mind, body and spirit for prevention, recovery and wellness, is becoming increasingly popular. The comprehensive healing approach combines modern science and the wisdom of ancient healing and many physicians are embracing the integrated therapies evolved from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to create a unified medicine in

support of whole, healthy people. Conventional Medicine is often referred to as Western or mainstream medicine, and is technically known as allopathic medicine. Examples include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and biologic therapies. Complementary medicine involves therapies most often used to supplement conventional medical treatments, such as music therapy, herbal medicine/dietary supplements, acupuncture, massage, biofeedback, homeopathy, naturopathy (general wellness based on natural prevention/care), magnet therapy for pain, reflexology (foot spot pressure linked to benefiting other body parts), meditation, yoga and other stress reduction techniques, among others. Proponents prefer the term “complementary” to emphasize that such treatments are used with mainstream medicine, not as replacements or alternatives. That’s why complementaries usually focus on promoting wellness, managing symptoms, or stimulating the immune system. In this issue of In the Know, we explore some of the most popular complementary therapies.

A letter from the RGCF Dear ITK Readers, Over the past nine years, we have been bringing informative and practical information to In the Know Readers through our 24-page magazine. We have heard from many of you over the years that you enjoy the content and have implemented many of the strategies for surviving and thriving beyond a cancer diagnosis. As the Rio Grande Cancer Foundation begins its twentieth year of service to our good community, it is with the benefit of a newly completed community wide cancer needs assessment survey* as our guide. In response to findings from the survey, we are evaluating our existing programs and services so they provide the most impact to our beneficiaries. To that end, In the Know: Understanding the Cancer Experience, is going green! This issue will be the final printed one with future issues to be available exclusively

online. The same good information and insightful interviews will now be but a click away! We will be keeping you apprise through our mailings and social media posts, so stay tuned! We hope you enjoy this unique issue on complementary therapies, or ways in which cancer patients can utilize tried and tested healing traditions that complement standard treatment protocols. Thank you for your faithful readership! If you are interested in receiving a copy of the *Community Wide Cancer Needs Assessment report, please call (915) 5627660 or email Sincerely, Patty Tiscareño, Executive Director





It makes sense

Get egg-cited

Alternative Remedies

We take a look at complementary therapies for cancer patients that soothe each of the five senses.

Understanding nutrition can be complex. Here we shine a light on foods that may surprise you with their healthy helpings!

While traditional medicine is the path to wellness, we take a small diversion and discover other natural treasures along the way.

Those submitting manuscripts, photographs, artwork, or other materials to In the Know for consideration should not send originals unless specifically requested to do so by In the Know in writing. Unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, and other submitted materials must be accompanied by a self-addressed overnight delivery return envelope, postage pre-paid. However, In the Know is not responsible for unsolicited submissions. ©2015 Rio Grande Cancer Foundation. All rights reserved. No part of any article or photograph contained in this magazine may be reproduced in any way without the written consent of In the Know. In the Know assumes no responsibility whatsoever for errors, including without limitation, typographical errors or omissions in In the Know. Editorial or advertising content in In the Know does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publishers. In the Know assumes no responsibility for the products or services advertised in this magazine. Publisher reserves the right to edit any material or refuse any advertising submitted.




FIGHT CANCER When you’re treated at Texas Oncology, you can be sure you’re getting world-renowned cancer care right here in El Paso. Our physicians provide compassionate patient care, offer the latest treatment innovations and share one goal: to be the best at what they do. With more than 150 locations and 350 oncologists throughout the state, every Texan can receive recognized cancer care close to home. Maria C. Aloba, M.D. • Byron Chesbro, M.D. • Jesus A. Gomez, M.D. Nanda K. Gopalan, M.D. • Anuradha Gupta, M.D. • Stephanie C. Han, M.D. • Juan Herrada, M.D. • Arsenio Lopez, M.D. Raul Portillo, M.D. • Ragene Rivera, M.D. • Ines Sanchez-Rivera, M.D. • Panagiotis Valilis, M.D.

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EL PASO CANCER TREATMENT CENTER GRANDVIEW 1901 Grandview Avenue El Paso, TX 79902 915-544-6750

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making sense of

complementary and

alternative methods

sight iridology

sound music

touch reflexology

taste tea

smell aromatherapy

Complementary and alternative are terms used to describe many kinds of products, practices, and systems that are not part of mainstream medicine. You may hear them used to refer to methods to help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life during cancer treatment.

that don’t use any of the medical treatments your doctor uses. Still other types of treatment may be recommended by the person who is selling a product in a store or TV infomercial, such as herbal products or juice from exotic fruits or vegetables.

We call these “complementary” because they are used along with your medical treatment. You may sometimes hear them when discussing methods that claim to prevent, diagnose, or treat cancer. We call these “alternative” because they are used instead of proven medical treatments.

Some methods take a lot of time and cost a lot of money, such as strict diets or travel to another country for special treatments. Others are fairly cheap and easy to use, like vitamins, herbs, or homeopathic remedies. Why would people with cancer be interested in complementary and alternative methods?

You may not hear about these treatments from your doctor or cancer team, but others may talk about things like traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, hypnosis, or machines that are supposed to find or cure cancer. Some people may recommend “body cleansing” with enemas or detoxification diets with special foods and preparation methods. Some of these methods must be done by a person with formal education and training, such as art or music therapy, and may be offered along with regular cancer treatment. Others are given by people with informal or traditional training. They can involve everything from colon therapy to entirely different systems

People with cancer might think about using alternative or complementary methods for a number of reasons: • They’d like to relieve the side effects of mainstream cancer treatment without having to take more medicine • They are seeking a less unpleasant treatment approach that might have fewer side effects • They want to take an active role in improving their own health and wellness • They prefer alternative theories of health and disease, as well as alternative treatments

Complementary and alternative methods are often appealing because they use your own body, your own mind, or things found in nature. Some even promise wellness using a way that sounds simple, wholesome, and without side effects – something your doctor can’t offer. Another plus is that these are things that you, and only you, choose to do. Many of these methods almost never cause physical harm, while others can be dangerous and have even caused deaths. But by definition, complementary and alternative methods that claim to cure cancer are nearly all unproven – methods that are well-proven to safely fight cancer tend to be adopted into mainstream medicine fairly quickly. Still, there are methods that have been studied and shown to help a person feel better during cancer treatment. The decision to use alternative or complementary methods is an important one, and it’s yours to make. We have put together some suggestions to help you think through the issues and make the most informed and safest decision possible.



making sense of

complementary and

alternative methods



the eyes have it By Cynthia Navarro

The eyes can reveal joy and sadness; they can reveal pain and sorrow. They are who we are. Amazingly they can reveal much more. “The eyes are a window of what’s occurring within the body.” This simple yet complex expression is the basis of Iridology. Only when we begin to realize how amazingly our bodies were built and designed, can we truly embrace it’s abilities and healing powers. As a carpenter uses different tools to complete a project, so does an herbalist. Iridology is one of the tools used by a natural healer to determine the condition of each individual’s health. Iridology is the study of the iris and it’s history dates back to the 18th century. The iris is an extension of the nervous system of brain with the nerves being attached to every area of the body. It has the ability to indicate a problem long before disease systems are present. Our bodies are a system of interrelated parts and organs designed to function as a harmonious whole, much like a computer or car engine. A holistic approach to healing must include the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical well being of each person. Because no two lives are alike, no two treatments are alike. Iridology is simply an analysis of the whole body system to determine a treatment for the whole person. Every cell listens to all your thoughts, and believes what you believe. For this reason, you must welcome what any holistic approach can do for you before beginning

any type of treatment. I have seen many cases where individuals have rejected any type of natural approach to healing without even trying. Are you tired of struggling with your health? I suggest you embrace the miracles of natural healing. Iridology offers hope and a new beginning for your health.

music to your ears By Aaron P. Hernandez

Whether it’s a jazzy number by Miles Davis or a calming Beethoven Sonata, the humming of a tune on your way to work, or the strumming of a guitar, music is often an escape igniting emotional and physical reactions. So it’s no surprise there’s a growing trend among medical professionals to include music therapy as treatment for a variety of mental and physical conditions. Early research shows music therapy can help treat depression, alleviate pain and decrease pain perception, enhance memory and promote physical rehabilitation. “It’s a way to engage with mind and body,” said President and Owner for the Center of Music Therapy Hope Young. “There is a very different feeling when I walk into a hospital with a guitar; there is an emotional combination with the spirit.” Young established the Center of Music Therapy in Austin, Texas in 1990 and is a Board Certified Music Therapist. According to Young, there are about 4,000-6,000 certified music therapists practicing in the U.S. Music therapy has grown since its first

professionalized conception in 1944 into a field that now is included at 99 universities as a degreed program. Music therapy can incorporate a wide variety of activities, taking into account of the patient’s level of participation. Some will enjoy laying back and listening, some will want to pick up a guitar, bang on drums, sing, or tap a tambourine. Others may even want to compose. The most important part of the therapy is that patient should enjoy the music they are playing. For some, that may mean heavy metal to others opera. Licensed Professional Counselor for El Paso’s Center for Expressive Therapy Scott Pelking uses music therapy techniques to assist his clients with various conditions. “Music is extremely personal,” said Pelking. “Tone, composition, lyrics that are encouraging to the listener or the musician is very helpful for dealing with life’s threats. There are some things you cannot express through words.” As the field of music therapy grows and gains momentum, so will physicians’ referrals. For many, that may be music to their ears. Young says she encourages resources to provide music therapy in hospitals, hospice, and out-patient will continue because it is a valuable treatment for many undergoing procedures, and facing other conditions. “And even if you can find music therapy, don’t give up on music,” said Young. “Use it—tap your toes and clap your hands—make it a part of your life.


taste the tea

By Edwardo Bouche

It has inspired composers, writers and revolutionaries. It was a staple of trade in the 17th century and was originally available only to the elite and well to do. Its history is ancient, owing its origins to China over 5,000 years ago. According to legend, Shen Nung, an early emperor was a skilled ruler, creative scientist and patron of the arts. His far-sighted edicts required, among other things, that all drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution. One summer day while visiting a distant region of his realm, he and the court stopped to rest. In accordance with his ruling, the servants began to boil water for the court to drink. Dried leaves from the nearby bush fell into the boiling water, and a brown liquid was infused into the water. As a scientist, the Emperor was interested in the new liquid, drank some, and found it very refreshing. And so, according to legend, tea was created. According to the encyclopedia, tea refers to an infusion made from a specific bush called Camellia Sinensis or The Tea Bush. Anything else is a combination of different ingredients such as herbs, flowers, barks, etc., which we commonly refer to as herbal teas. Regardless of what we call them, tea and herbal teas are delicious, comforting, and in some cases, they can help alleviate certain conditions. What is officially known as Tea, contains catechins, which are a type of antioxidant. Fresh tea leaves contain up to 30% of catechins making tea a great ally when it comes to staying healthy. Tea also contains fluoride which can contribute to your oral health, and it also contains caffeine to keep you alert. Although herbal teas give us enormous options of terms flavors, it is of vital importance to know that just because something is natural, it’s not necessarily safe to drink. There are many herbs and flowers that can have an adverse effect due to their different components. A good example is gobernadora or Creosote bush. Gobernadora grows regionally and people on both sides of the border consume tea made from this ancient plant leaves for various health reasons, but this plant can be toxic to humans. Echinacea, AKA the purple coneflower, is used extensively throughout the world as an immunostimulator but is not recommended for people with liver problems. It is also counter indicated when taking immune-suppressant medications. Other

herbs that should be avoided when taking immune-suppressant drugs are goldensea (orange root), alfalfa (Medicago sativa, a legume) astragalus (locoweed) ginseng and licorice root. So how can we enjoy a nice cup of tea after what we’ve just read? It’s simple. The secret is to be informed and to always share with your health care provider what herbs and supplements we are taking. Also, a quick internet search can provides us with very important information. There is another secret that has to be uncovered if we want to truly have the best cup of tea: How to brew the perfect cup of tea. In Asia there are masters specialized in the art of making and serving tea, not to mention the beautiful tea traditions in Europe. Among the different traditions, there are some commonalities that can help produce a great cup of tea. You will need a good quality ceramic tea pot along with its cups. They are not expensive and some of them are very beautiful. The first step is very simple but often overlooked. The water should never be over-boiled. The ideal water temperature varies based on the type of tea being steeped. The more oxidized the tea (e.g. black tea) the hotter the water should be, whereas less oxidized teas (white, green) should be steeped in water that isn't as hot. White or green teas need to be steeped in water well below boiling (170-185 F). Oolongs (185-210 F). Black teas, just off a boil (212 F or 100 C). The most common mistake is to steep black tea with water that is not hot enough, which can prevent the active substances in black tea from developing. When the water boils, turn off the heat and let the water cool for 30 seconds for white tea and 60 seconds for green tea before pouring it over the leaves. Once the water is ready remove it from the heat and let the water cool for 30 seconds for white tea and 60 seconds for green tea. Before steeping the leaves, the tea pot and the cups need to be warmed up. Pour about a cup of the hot water in the tea pot and swirl it thoroughly in order to ready the pot for the tea. Empty the tea pot and add one teaspoon of tea per cup, plus one additional teaspoon of tea and add the hot water. Leave the pot alone for about two minutes for the tea to steep before serving. ENJOY!

Know more> Here’s the skinny on tea • Protects against heart disease, the risk of cancer and destroys harmful bacteria and viruses. • Lowers blood pressure. • Reduces arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). • Fights infections. • Relieves migraines. • Reduces cavities and gum disease. • Promotes weight loss. • Lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) • Raises HDL (good cholesterol) Recent studies... • Scientific information from the USDA points out that drinking one cup of tea is equivalent to appproximately one serving of vegetables. • British researchers say early findings show that compounds in green and black tea "mimicked some of the beneficial effects of prescription Alzheimer's drugs". • When tea drinker's immune cells are exposed to germs in a Petri dish, the immune cells spring into action. When coffee drinkers immune cells are exposed to germs, nothing happens.

8 making sense of

complementary and alternative methods:


reach out and touch By David Bustamante LMT, RMI, BS

A frenetic and busy life often leaves its mark upon the body that carries out the everyday hustle and bustle. Muscles, tendons and body chemistry endure so much of the wear, the worry and the rush of daily living. So many people often find themselves neglecting their bodies and sometimes even suffering consequences of that negligence. If human touch is healing, then deeper touch can be curatively therapeutic. An extended touch known as Massage Therapy can often provide the lubrication and care our bodies need for healthy maintenance. Massage therapy is the practice of manipulation of the soft body tissues with physical, medical, therapeutic and sometimes psychological purposes and goals. Massage involves manipulation of the patient’s body with pressure to target muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints and/or connective tissues as well as lymphatic vessels.

Massage therapists need to know how to work with complex medical conditions taking into account the application of massage, adjustments in massage, pressure, joint movement, areas of focus, position, massage lubricants and when and how to consult the clients physician for needed information. A therapist uses appropriate intake procedures to adapt their techniques to deal with those who have complex medical conditions such as cancer. The needs of a cancer patient require special attentions for those who have lymphedema or risk of lymphedema, bone metastasis, vital organ involvements, risk of deep vein thrombosis and suppressed blood cell populations. It is important for a therapist to craft an intake for someone with a cancer history, not just an active cancer so that they might customize their work to the individual client presentations. Massage is a profound way to communicate through healthy, healing touch to relieve symptoms, reduce

isolation and help people feel cared for and empowered. Different types and stages of cancer bring different signs, symptoms and complications requiring individual massage therapy approaches. Many side effects occur as a result of treatment such as pain, anxiety, nausea, fatigue and depression. Claims of relief are becoming a focal point for massage researchers. There once existed a myth in massage therapy that claimed massage was contraindicated for people with cancer but, thanks to recent advances in education, the absolute contraindication of massage therapy has been overturned. It is true that any technique is contraindicated if it directly disturbs an active tumor site. But for massage to do this, the tumor site would have to be superficial enough to be in reach of the therapist’s hands, movements or hydrotherapy techniques. I am passionate about researching the benefits of massage therapy and reaching out to educate and treat people with beneficial touch therapy.


put your best foot forward By Norma L. Torres

The human body is an amazing and complex apparatus that houses many mysteries and is, in and of itself, a real miracle. Its alimentation is therefore a natural priority giving rise to all forms of sciences and healing practices dedicated to its longevity. One type of healing modality is Reflexology. The practice of Reflexology is unlike any other massage therapy. Reflexology is an hour-long singular interaction, with a skilled practitioner, for the purpose of taking a whole body and holistic approach to wellness through our feet. The practice of Reflexology, as we know it today, was first documented in drawings depicted by the Egyptian culture. Eventually, the practice was spread worldwide by the Romans. In the United States pioneers in Reflexology were Eunice Ingham, a physical therapist, and her nephew Dwight Byers. Byers suffered from asthma, and could not participate in many childhood activities. In an effort to alleviate his symptoms Ingham researched and developed a method that determined the correlation between the reflexes of each foot to the specific organs, glands and parts of the body. Today there are many practitioners who dedicate their practice to what is known as the Ingham Method. Simply stated, if we were to mirror the body with the foot, the top or our head would reflect the tip of our toes and our heels would represent the lower back and hip area. The Ingham Method charts are readily available and easy to understand. Reflexology normalizes body functions, relieves stress that can affect health and well being and is regarded as a type of preventative maintenance. For cancer patients it is accepted as a complementary treatment and its use will not make any condition more acute. Health concerns can be communicated to the practitioner prior to a session allowing for a specified healing experience. A soak in warm water with Epsom salt, can be offered prior to a foot reflexology session. A session begins by being seated in a comfortable chair or lying face up on a massage table. Fully clothed, the only exposed area is the calves and feet. The practitioner uses a light lotion on their hands and conducts the session by alternating pressure on the foot and will stimulate and sedate various areas of the body. At the end of the session a feeling of well being is often achieved. Kick up your feet for better health!

Reflexology is the application of appropriate pressure to specific points and areas on the feet, hands, or ears. Reflexologists believe that these areas and reflex points correspond to different body organs and systems, and that pressing them has a beneficial effect on the organs and person's general health.


making sense of

complementary and alternative methods:

smell the roses Essential oils have been around since the beginning of time. Throughout history, essential oils were used to cure diseases, relieve symptoms, and help people feel better after long illnesses. They are natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants and have amazing medicinal properties. However, when some people think of essential oils, they may turn up their nose. Due to the Flexner Report of 1910 and the alliance between “Big Business” and the AMA, no longer are oils a crucial part of the medical curriculum. As medicine continues to focus on drugs, prescribing a “pill for every ill,” proven remedies and traditions are falling by the wayside, and essential oils have lost some of their popularity. Cancer patients have started a new resurgence in essential oils. Through aromatherapy, many cancer patients have found relief from the dire effects of chemotherapy and those caused by their illness. They utilize aromatherapy techniques during their recovery. And as you’ll see at the end of the article, they may even use essential oil as a treatment. What is aromatherapy? Aromatherapy is a natural modality that can help patients cope with chronic pain, nausea, stress, and depression. It also has been used to stimulate the immune system, fight off bacterial infections, increase circulation, alleviate headaches, soothe sore muscles, and help you sleep at night. Each oil is promoted to have specific health benefits, so patients must find the right oils for their health concerns. Common essential oils used in aromatherapy and their health benefits include: Lavender is used to relieve stress, treat depression, reduce inflammation, and act as a natural decongestant. Eucalyptus can fight migraines, fevers, respiratory issues, and bacterial infections.

Chamomile is a soothing essential oil that has antibacterial properties and can reduce inflammation and chronic pain. Bergamot is used to treat stress, anxiety, depression, skin infections, and fatigue. Peppermint is a stimulant that can sharpen your focus, enhance your mental alertness, and boost your energy. These essential oils, and many more, can be used to help alleviate some of the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of allopathic cancer treatments like chemotherapy.

How is Aromatherapy Used to Help Patients Recover from Cancer? Aromatherapy can be self-administered or administered by a professional. Many aroma therapists found in the United States are also massage therapists, psychologists, chiropractors, or social workers. They may use the oils in their practices to help relieve some of their patients’ pain and enhance their quality of life. In the United States, you can buy the oils and a home diffuser yourself in order to selfadminister your aromatherapy treatments. Essential oils can be used individually or combined for maximum benefits. Everyone has a unique body chemistry, so different oils may work differently on unique individuals. For this reason, aromatherapy may take time to improve your symptoms. You may need to try numerous oils and oil combinations before finding an oil or a combination of oils that truly works for you. Once you find the right oils, they can be applied to your skin or inhaled. For inhalation purposes, a home diffuser can be purchased. A home diffuser utilizes water to humidify your home and add essential oils to your environment. You may also add a few drops of essential oils to a steaming pot of water or to your shower each day in order to vaporize the oils and inhale them.

If essential oils are applied directly to your skin, then they may need to be applied along with a carrier oil. Olive oil and coconut oil are both great carrier oils that can soak up the essential oils and help your body to absorb them properly. You can also make your own creams or salves that contain essential oils to use on your sore muscles or any areas of your body that are painful. What About Frankincense? This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning frankincense. For over 5,000 years frankincense (aka “boswelliaserrata”) has been used to support the immune system, fight infection and cure diseases. Yes, even cancer! A 2013 study by University of Leicester researchers indicated that frankincense contains a compound AKBA (acetyl-11keto-beta-boswellic acid) that targets cancer cells, including ovarian, brain, breast, colon, pancreatic, prostate, and stomach cancers. According to researchers out of Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, frankincense helps regulate the cellular epigenetic machinery, which highlights its ability to influence genes to promote healing. As a result, they believe that it may be effective for both cancer prevention and treatment! Source:

SURPRISE & SHINE Time to set the record straight and dispel many common food myths. Whether proteins, carbs, vegetables or fruit, ITK sheds light on what is good and why—you can eat right without sacrificing flavor for nutrition.


Compiled by Michelle J. Brown

Eggs Often ostracized as an artery-clogging food, eggs have been exonerated by new research and now have a place in most diets. Packed with nutrients, one egg contains 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, and healthy unsaturated fats for just 75 calories (or less in some brands—check labels). While yolks do contain about 213 mg of dietary cholesterol (the daily limit is 300mg), eating a whole egg a few times per week falls within heart-healthy guidelines if cholesterol from other sources such as meats, poultry and dairy products is limited. If you’re watching your cholesterol, you can still turn to egg whites as a healthful source of protein. KNOW MORE>



Surprisingly healthy foods


Avocados While avocados are high in fat, most of it is “heart healthy” mono and polyunsaturated kind that can help lower both total and “bad cholesterol.” Concerned about calories? One-fifth of a medium-sized avocado has about 50 calories. Not bad considering these versatile fruits are nutrient-rich, containing nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. Plus they're loaded with Vitamin E and potassium as well as fiber to help fill you up. The key is moderation. With football season upon us, guacamole can be a great thing! And the tomatoes in some guacamole recipes are full of lycopene while the lime kicks up the absorption factor of those nutrients. Avocados are also rich in betasitosterol, a natural substance that has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, as well as plant chemicals and antioxidants, all of which contribute to good health. 2



One of the best lean proteins you can eat, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) provides 10 essential amino acids, is loaded with minerals and has a high protein content — between 14 and 18 percent. The FAO (U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization) says it is so nutritious it can be substituted for mother's milk. This Bolivian Andean "super grain" has a similar taste and texture to brown rice, but also contains a complete source of protein. A heritage grain, quinoa has a wonderful fluffy texture and a unique nutty flavor when cooked. For a simple dish, combine 1 cup of quinoa with a can of (drained, rinsed) black beans, and a can of (no salt added) corn. Splash in a little lime juice, hot sauce, pepper, and cumin for a zesty side dish that offers the one-two punch of high fiber and protein for a satisfying, yet guilt-free addition to any meal.

Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables because they are nutritious, easy to prepare, affordable and very versatile. They're rich in complex carbohydrates that can supply energy, but not all that high in calories. One medium-sized potato (about 3 inches in diameter) has about 150 calories. That same potato has about 5 grams of fiber, which is important for a healthy digestive tract. The potato could be considered much more of a healthy food and less of a diet buster if you leave the skin on because more of the potato nutrients, like vitamin C and potassium, are preserved when potatoes are cooked and eaten with the skin on, which also provide significant fiber. Americans are only getting about half of the fiber needed daily in their diet, so go for the skin. They're also a healthy source of vitamins and minerals. Potatoes contain more heart healthy potassium than any other fresh vegetable in the produce department - even more than bananas (see sidebar). One potato has almost 900 milligrams, which is about 20% of what you need every day. Potassium is important for body growth and cell maintenance. It's also necessary for nervous function and for normal muscle contraction including the heart muscle. Potassium is also an electrolyte that helps to balance the fluids in your body, which is important for healthy

blood pressure. Potatoes also contain substantial amounts of Vitamins C and B6, which are vital for blood clotting, wound healing, a strong immune system, normal nervous system function and for converting the food you eat to energy.

Mushrooms Mushrooms are the only vegetable source of Vitamin D, a nutrient many people lack in sufficient daily intake. It's a small amount-just 15 international units-but preliminary research suggests sunlight may give it a boost. One study found that exposure to five minutes of ultraviolet light may boost Vitamin D levels in a serving (4 to 5 white button mushrooms) from 4 percent of the Daily Value to as much as 100 percent (400 IU). In addition, many popular mushroom varieties like white, portabella, and crimini are good sources of B Vitamins like riboflavin and niacin. Shiitakes are not only

delicious, but also loaded with Vitamin D, anti-oxidants and selenium, a crucial element in lowering cholesterol and fighting cancer.


Pork If you know the right cuts-tenderloin, boneless loin chops, even center cut baconpork rivals lean poultry as a healthy choice for complete protein. Pork tenderloin is as lean as a skinless chicken breast, and any cuts from the loin (think pork chops and pork roast) are even leaner than a skinless chicken thigh. Pork steaks or roasts from the leg (a.k.a. fresh ham) are also great choices. Pork is also an excellent source of B vitamins such as niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, and B-6 (pyridoxine).

Beef Again, knowing the healthiest cuts is key. Ounce for ounce, beef tenderloin has about the same calorie and fat content as skinless chicken thighs. Rich in protein and Vitamin B12, this cut is a good source of selenium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and B Vitamins. Versatile and flavorful, tenderloin is a smart indulgence that can be paired with myriad sauces and sides for a healthful meal. Get to know less expensive lean cuts such as top sirloin (great in stir-fries) and flank steak, a great all-purpose cut that's cheaper than tenderloin and works in many recipes.


Nuts Keep them raw and salt free, please. Did you know that pistachios are one of the best? They offer more than 30 different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients including lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants associated with a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration. Worried about the fat and calories? Pistachios are one of the nuts lowest in calories and fat, with only three calories per nut!

Butter Don’t get too excited, but.... the surprisingly healthy butter is the kind that is organic and from cows that graze in pastures, so their butter contains "high levels of conjugated linoleic acid, a substance that has been shown to improve a number of metabolic factors, including insulin resistance and cholesterol." And of course, ‘gourmet’ organic butter is still butter, but it's better for you than regular butter or trans-fat loaded margarine.

In another study, reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate helped prevent stiffening of blood vessels in adults over 50. And a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that dark chocolate may help prevent diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity in healthy adults.

Don’t forget good dessert and this good news for chocolate lovers: dark chocolate (as opposed to milk or white chocolate) contains healthful flavonoids similar to those found in tea, red wine, fruits, and vegetables. Studies have shown that small portions of dark chocolate can improve blood vessel flow, especially in older adults, and may improve blood sugar and insulin sensitivity to help reduce the risk of diabetes. One study, published in the journal Hypertension, reported that the antioxidants found in dark chocolate could help reduce

high blood pressure. The study participants who ate chocolate also reduced their LDL "bad" cholesterol levels, and improved insulin sensitivity. A little chocolate goes a long way, however. The study subjects were limited to a small portion of dark chocolate per day and cut calories elsewhere in their diets to avoid weight gain. In another study, reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate helped prevent stiffening of blood vessels in adults over 50. And a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that dark chocolate may help prevent diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity in healthy adults. The dark chocolate used in these studies has high levels of flavonoids and somewhat of a bittersweet taste--different from the creamy milk chocolate many Americans enjoy. The flavonoids come from extracts of the cocoa bean. By choosing dark chocolate with a high percentage (70%) of cocoa, you'll get more of these health-enhancing antioxidants. Most dry cocoa mixes don't contain these health-promoting substances. Remember, don’t eliminate and deprive, moderate. And always consult your health care provider about questions specific to your own dietary conditions, needs and concerns.

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ALTERNATIVES Complementary and Alternative Supplements for Pain

By Armando González-Stuart, Ph.D. Pain can be a symptom in itself or a secondary effect originating from another abnormal or pathological condition. Regardless of the modality (conventional or alternative) employed to relieve pain it is of first importance to find out exactly what is the cause of the pain in order to treat not only the symptom, but rather its origin. What is Complementary and Alternative Medicine? Complementary and Alternative therapies cover a wide array of options for the management of various health conditions, including pain. First of all, let’s define what is meant by “complementary and alternative medicine”. According to the

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), the definition is: “A group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine”. The term “conventional medicine” means “Western”, mainstream or allopathic medical approaches as currently practiced by physicians. CAM can be applied to pain management in a variety of ways. Some of them can be manipulative techniques, such as chiropractic, massage therapy with essential oils, yoga, and Rolfing, just to name a few. However, one of the most important “alternative” therapies is scientific herbal medicine, also known as phytotherapy. In this article we will mention

some of the main plants and supplements with regard to pain management used in herbal medicine. What is Phytotherapy? The word comes from the Greek phyton which means “plant”. The term “phtytotherapy” was coined in the late 19th Century by the French physician Henri Leclerc, to denote therapies based on plants and plant products to treat a wide array of diseases and ailments. Phytotherapy takes into account the valuable empirical or practical knowledge obtained from traditional herbalists, but goes one step further in validating their use based on chemical analyses as well as controlled clinical trials in order to elucidate the health effects of their bioactive ingredients, known as “phytochemicals”.

What are Phytochemicals? When you bite into a hot jalape o chili or a clove of garlic, as well as when you taste pure cinnamon or ginger, your taste buds immediately respond to the plants’ phytochemicals. It is precisely these phytochemicals which can have therapeutic properties for a variety of ailments. Phytochemicals known as sulphoraphanes are commonly contained in closely related plants such as broccoli, Brussels’ sprouts, and cabbage, for example. These sulfur-containing natural compounds have been shown to possess cytotoxic activity against cancer cells in laboratory experiments. Plants and Pain Indeed, some of the most important medications employed by conventional or Western medicine for various types of pain include various compounds derived from plants including the opioids from the poppy plant (Papaver somniferum-Papaveraceae) Novocaine and Lidocain from the Coca plant (Erythroxylum coca –Erythroxylaceae), as well as the precursor of aspirin, commonly known as Meadowsweet (Spirea ulmaria-). Unfortunately the most powerful plant –derived analgesics can also be addictive. For this reason, we must look for safer alternatives which will not cause dependence as well as other negative side effects. Chili peppers and Arthritic Pain Pain, inflammation, and sometimes deformation are landmark symptoms of osteoarthritis and, especially, of its autoimmune version, rheumatoid arthritis. A few plants, such as chili, for example, contain compounds which may help to reduce pain. Chili (Capsicum spp.Solanaceae) also known as “Cayenne pepper” contains an irritating compound known as “capsaicin” which can serve the useful purpose of interfering with a painsensation neurotransmitter known as “substance P”. It is interesting to note that some people may experience pleasure and even euphoria from eating chili peppers which have a high content of capsaicin. Supposedly this is due to the painstimulated release of endorphins (natural compounds produced in our brain which

convey a pleasurable sensation). Capsaicin can be applied externally as an ointment or a high-dose dermal patch to relieve the pain of peripheral neuropathy which occurs in diabetic patients as well as people suffering from an attack of herpes (shingles). The cream/ointment is applied externally (topically) for the temporary relief of minor aches and pains of muscles and joints associated with arthritis, in concentrations from 0.025% - 0.15%. It is important to note that although capsaicin will give temporary relief form pain, it does not have anti-inflammatory properties. Make sure that you wear gloves when you apply the cream/ointment or wash your hands well after you use it as capsaicin can be very irritating to the mucous membranes. Frankincense a Gift from the Magi or Ayurveda? Boswellia Serrata, also known as Frankincense, is a tree that grows in Asia whose compounds can have antiinflammatory action and may help relieve the pain associated with arthritis. The resin for the tree has been used in Ayurveda (one of the oldest systems of medicine) in India for the treatment of arthritis. Clinical studies show that extracts of Boswellia have been used with success to treat osteoarthritis and joint function, especially for osteoarthritis of the knee. Positive effects have also been seen in chronic inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis. Chamomile for Gastrointestinal and Premenstrual Pain Chamomile (also known as manzanilla) tea is one of the oldest herbal remedies. The tea, made from the flower heads is usually taken for colic, premenstrual syndrome, and anxiety. The phtyochemicals in chamomile have both anti-inflammatory as well as antispasmodic (reduce the muscular spasms caused by intense pain) actions, helping to reduce the pain. Additionally, chamomile acts on receptors in the brain to help us relax without feeling groggy.

Migraine and other Headaches Feverfew (Tanacetum partheniumAsteraceae) is plant belonging to the chamomile or Daisy botanical family has

been used for many years in traditional medicine to treat migraine headaches. Some studies have found feverfew to be superior to placebo in reducing the pain associated with migraines, but further clinical trials are needed. This plant seems to be more effective as an extract taken in capsules, compared to taking it as a tea. Make sure the product you buy is standardized to a compound known as “parthenolide”. Can too much sugar cause pain? Many studies have shown that when cells, especially nerve cells, have a sugar overload, they begin to experience important changes in their structure and function. This is especially true for diabetic patients who commonly experience what is called “peripheral neuropathy”. Some of the usual symptoms related to damage to nerve cells include muscle weakness, cramps, and spasms. Damage to the sensory nerve can produce tingling, numbness, and a burning pain. Loss of balance and coordination may also occur with this condition. For this reason it is vitally important to limit our consumption of sugar, especially in its refined form (white sugar and highfructose corn syrup, for example in order o reduce the effects of pain and inflammation throughout our body.

Dr. Armando Gonzalez-Stuart, an expert in the field of health and nutrition. Dr. Gonzalez-Stuart is a graduate professor with the faculty of animal science and ecology at the University of Chihuahua where he has undertaken research in toxic and medicinal plans used in traditional Mexican medicine. His office is located at 5301 Sun Valley and he can be reached at 915-822-1106 or by email:


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Natural remedies found in your pantry By Michelle J. Brown The multi-billion dollar health care industry often relieves you of your cash, but not your condition. Practical pioneers used what was at hand, as doctors were scarce and medicine scarcer. Survivors believed healing derived from the simple things of nature. Combining centuries old folk remedies with long established herbal formulas proved to be the prescription of the day. More specific to El Paso’s multi-cultural roots, when the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs, they discovered priceless riches of herbal remedies and medicines developed by the Indians many of which surpassed rudimentary medicine and methods of the Old World. The remnants of these cures and concoctions form the basis of the countless natural remedies still recognized and respected today. Modern self healers start in the kitchen and garden to cure conditions and alleviate ailments. They’re handy, free (or affordable), usually have no side effects and, according to hundreds of cultures around the world that spent thousands of years tackling suffering, they can work wonders. However, natural substances often work like drugs in the body and may conflict with medications you already take. When in doubt, check with your health care provider before implementing herbal remedies.

Cinnamon In a recent German study of Type 2 diabetics, taking cinnamon extract daily successfully reduced blood sugar by about 10%. It may also help lower cholesterol, reducing levels by double digits. To control blood sugar, study subjects took 1 g capsules of standardized cinnamon extract daily, while those in the cholesterol study took 1 to 6 g. But keep in mind that a large amount of the actual spice can be dangerous, so stick with a watersoluble extract.

Aloe Vera

Often used in hospital burn units, aloe vera gel is remarkably effective for any kind of burn. A thin layer applied hourly relieves discomfort, speeds healing and helps moisturize skin and relieve dryness. A salve of calendula flowers and St. John’s Wort helps because of their antiseptic and burn\pain-killing properties as well as healing promotion of skin wounds, according to Prescription for Nutritional Healing.


Used for centuries as a pain reliever/analgesic, it is effective for headache, toothache, and pains caused by arthritis, as well as gaseous distention and a mouthwash.


Benefits of household herbs High consumption of garlic lowered rates of ovarian, colorectal, and other cancers, says a 2006 research review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, as reported in Prevention. A 2006 Japanese clinical trial also found that after a year of taking aged garlic extract supplements, people with a history of colon polyps saw a reduction in the size and number of the precancerous growths detected by Garlic their doctors. Garlic contains more than 70 active phytochemicals, including allicin, which many studies have shown decreases high blood pressure by as much as 30 points. Garlic may help prevent strokes as well by slowing arterial blockages, according to a year-long clinical study at UCLA. In addition, patients' levels of homocysteine, a chemical that leads to plaque buildup, dropped by 12%. Crushed fresh garlic offers the best cardiovascular and cancer-fighting benefits, according to experts. But you'll need to down up to five cloves each day. Try Kyolic aged garlic extract capsules (1,000 mg), the product used in many studies.

Holy Basil


Several animal studies back this special variety of the plant used in cooking, as effective at reducing stress by increasing adrenaline and noradrenaline and decreasing serotonin. For stress relief, try holy basil extract, widely available in health food stores. India’s infamous curry could relieve your pain. Curry contains turmeric, which has curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory that works similarly to Cox-2 inhibitors, which reduce the Cox-2 enzyme that causes the pain and swelling of arthritis. For a therapeutic dose, James A. Duke, PhD, author of The Green Pharmacy, suggests 400 mg of curcumin extract three times daily


Ginger Preventing stomach upset from many sources, this powerful antioxidant blocks effects of serotonin, a chemical produced by both the brain and stomach when nauseated. It also stops the production of free radicals, another cause of upset in your stomach. In one study of cruise ship passengers traveling on rough seas, 500 mg of ginger every 4 hours was as effective as Dramamine, the commonly used over-the-counter motion-sickness medication. In another study, where subjects took 940 mg, it was even more effective than the drug. For nausea, ginger is best taken before symptoms start, at least 30 minutes before departure, dosing capsules containing 500 to 1,000 mg of dried ginger every 4 hours, up to a maximum of 4 g daily. It may also help decrease blood pressure and arthritis pain because it helps regulate blood flow and its anti-inflammatory properties may help ease arthritis. Ginger extract had a significant effect on reducing pain in all 124 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, in a study conducted at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Miami, according to Prevention Magazine.

Frying, broiling, or grilling meats at high temperatures creates HCAs (heterocyclic amines), potent carcinogens implicated in several cancers. Levels significantly reduce when rosemary extract (a common powder with powerful antioxidants) is mixed into beef before cooking, say Kansas State University researchers. Rosemary extract also helps prevent carcinogens that enter the body from binding with DNA, the first step in tumor formation, according to several animal studies. Human research is still pending. Consider marinating foods in any supermarket spice mix that contains rosemary as well as one or more of the spices thyme, oregano, basil, garlic, onion, or parsley.

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Healing traditions endure over the centuries By Deb Benedict


hile there is no scientific evidence that curanderismo cures cancer or any other disease, many health care providers are learning about this tradition in order to treat their patients more effectively and understand patient fears and beliefs.

Origins In Mexico, curanderismo has Aztec, Mayan and Spanish roots. The ancient native cultures believed that a delicate balance existed between health, nature, and religion. Illness occurred when one of these areas was out of balance. The use of nature's resources was very important to the native cultures. In the fifteenth century, the Huaxtepec Garden was developed by the Aztec leader Montezuma I. The garden housed a collection of several thousand medicinal plants which were used by Aztec priests to perform research on the pharmaceutical properties of the plants.

When the Spanish conquistadors came to Mexico in the sixteenth century, Hernando Cortes ordered the garden and the Aztec codices on botany and science destroyed. Some of the plants and remedies were saved by the indigenous peoples, and the knowledge was passed from one generation to the next. Paradoxically, early Spanish missionaries recognized that the Aztecs had medical knowledge comparable, if not superior, to their own. As they traveled throughout Mexico introducing Christianity, they also collected and documented “materia medica� in several illustrated manuscripts that describe the medicinal uses of many

native plants. Over the next several centuries, as the native and Spanish cultures intermingled, the healing traditions of curanderismo were formed. Practitioners A healer who practices curanderismo is called a curandero (male) or curandera (female). However, healing terms vary with the language and culture of the area. For example, a female healer in Argentina is called a remediera. Many curanderos describe their abilities as a gift from God. Their knowledge may have been passed down from a close relative or learned through apprenticeships with experienced healers.

Curanderismo is a system of traditional healing or folk medicine stemming from a blend of Native American and Spanish cultures, beliefs and methods. (Its name comes from the Spanish word “curar” which means to heal.) Practiced throughout Mexico, Latin America and the southwestern United States, it is a rich tradition that blends religious beliefs, faith and prayer with the use of herbs, massage, and other forms of healing. Some use it to complement conventional medicine; while others turn to curanderismo after conventional treatments have failed to cure their disease or because they do not trust conventional treatments.

While curanderos may specialize in one area, most use other modalities if a patient’s condition warrants it and if the healer knows how to proceed in that area. • A hierbera (herbalist) uses plants to treat illness. Common treatments include chamomile (manzanilla) to promote relaxation and alleviate stress; mint (hierba buena) or rosemary (romero) for indigestion; and prickly pear cactus or nopal to reduce blood sugar. • A sobadora uses "loving-touch massage" to create physical comfort, as well as to “reach out” to a person’s soul to initiate the healing. Physical, mental and emotional healing is facilitated when people relax, destress and feel better about themselves. Similar to a chiropractor, a huesero does chiropractic-like spinal adjustments and sets dislocated joints. • A partera (midwife) guides expectant mothers and delivers babies. • A consejero (counselor) uses heart-toheart talks called “platicas” to bring up repressed issues or problems that need to be released before the client can move on in life. • An espiritualista’s (spiritual healer’s) work revolves around a belief in spirit beings who inhabit another plane of existence, but who are interested in making contact with the physical world. In this case, the curandera serves as a link between these two worlds. Those unfamiliar with curanderismo may believe that these traditional healers do not use modern medicine. However, most [curanderos] use doctors – both for themselves and their patients - when they feel that the medical system can do a better job (for example - in the case of broken bones or infectious diseases).

Illness In western medicine, the body goes to the hospital, the mind goes to a psychiatrist, and the soul/spirit goes to church. In curanderismo, there is no such separation between the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual realms. There is no separation between the nature of humans and their environment. The totality of the person is the patient. The healer does not withhold her own religious and spiritual beliefs from her treatments. A soul that is off-balance is said to be suffering from Susto (fright), and the treatment involves a "soul retrieval." If one's spirit has lost faith in God or the Divine, one suffers an illness as real as a physical or mental illness. All aspects of the "self" will suffer, and one will experience diseases that affect body, mind, emotions, spirit, soul, family, community, and nature. The curandera works from this concept of illness and will incorporate a variety of tools and modalities to guide the patient back to balance. Curanderas also have insight into the way the patient perceives his own illness within the context of his culture. The patient's values, family, society, and culture must all be taken into account. No treatment goal can be envisaged that does not involve a value which is itself culturally determined. A Modern Day Curandera Elena Avila, RN, MSN, was born in the barrios of El Paso, Texas. Her first language was Spanish, and her family's health care included curanderismo, as well as western medicine. After graduating from the University of Texas in 1976, with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Avila obtained her Master's degree from UT in 1981, specializing in mental health.

She began her research into curanderismo in 1974, gradually incorporating native folk healing into her work as a nurse. Today, Elena Avila is a noted curandera. Her book, “Woman Who Glows in the Dark, A Curandera Reveals Traditional Aztec Secrets of Physical and Spiritual Health", was published in 1999. She has lectured in the United States and internationally, and maintains an office in her home located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Many of Avila’s clients hear about her by word of mouth or through her book; others are referred by physicians. They come to her with problems ranging from troubled marriages to difficulty coping with an illness. Avila is a consejera (counselor). Long talks or “platicas” are at the core of her work. While they may look like traditional therapy, she says there are important differences. One distinction is that Avila says she does not stay detached because she wants her clients to see her as another human being, facing all the challenges life has to offer. Another distinction is the emphasis on spirituality, that the “platica” is sacred work. Avila also uses objects to create an atmosphere for healing. Clients bring things that are personally meaningful to them – photographs, memorabilia, flowers, lists of affirmations. These are placed in specific locations throughout the room. Avila may add candles, feathers, incense or fragrant oils. While there is an emphasis on spirituality, Avila is quick to point out that there is nothing mystical about the process. “Sometimes people come to me seeking a miracle. They may have just been diagnosed with cancer, for example, and they’re hoping I can wave a feather or give them a magic herb to take the cancer away.” She advises these clients to see their doctors.

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A frequently asked question by patients undergoing cancer treatment is, "Can acupuncture help me?"

Acupuncture Its pierce can stop a 200 pound athlete in his tracks or reduce a new mother to tears. It causes fear and trepidation in high school students returning to school and can even keep an educated person from visiting the physician’s office. It even has its own unique names… aichmophobia, belonephobia, or enetophobia. But most people just call it “needle phobia or fear of needles”. So when a cancer patient, seeking relief from the side effects of traditional cancer therapy, inquires about acupuncture it is often spoken tentatively and fearfully. “Can acupuncture help me?” is a frequently asked question with patients undergoing cancer treatment, says Elisabeth Bouchard, licensed acupuncturist, a practitioner of the ancient art. Since cancer is not just one disease but many different malignancies, each with its own cellular pattern and behavior, many different kinds of procedures are required to fight it, says Bouchard. The issue then

becomes: is there a place for acupuncture in the vast field of cancer with its diverse treatment modalities? The answer, according to Bouchard, is a resounding “Yes”. Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese Medicine, a complete medical system that originated thousands of years ago. It is proposed that acupuncture achieves its effects by regulating the nervous system, thus aiding the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. In Chinese medicine, health is believed to result from the free flow of energy, called chi, in the body. Illness is attributed to blockages in this energy flow, which can be relieved by the placement of thin needles at various points in the body. But what about those needles? The theory behind acupuncture is that the insertion of acupuncture needles at these strategic points encourages the healing

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Acupuncture Points and Meridians The acupuncturist decides which points to treat by observing and questioning the patient in order to make a diagnosis. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are four diagnostic methods: inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiring, and palpation.

and cancer powers of the body. The body has many healing powers that will regenerate and cure. Acupuncture aims at promoting this healing and regeneration. The skilled professional who is trained in acupuncture must know the strategic points in the body that will be useful when these needles are inserted. Elisabeth Bouchard contends that the acupuncture needles are thin but powerful. She says that “most patients feel little or no discomfort with the procedure” in which the practitioner inserts and manipulates fine filiform needles into specific points on the body. (See sidebar on acupuncture points) “Acupunture can be a useful tool in combating the dreadful nausea and fatigue that accompany traditional cancer treatment”, says Bouchard. Oncologist Dr. Eugene Mak writes that the role of acupuncture works in both the curative and palliative treatments. It is effective for control of pain, of local swelling postoperatively, for shortening recovering and

minimizing side effects of medications. That acupuncture is a powerful tool for general pain control is widely known, says Dr. Mak. Less known is its successful use in some care-related pain and in reducing narcotic use and thereby minimizing the side effects of confusion, behavioral changes, nausea and severe constipation. Acupuncture has also become popular with those who want to quit smoking or lose weight. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese Medicine is now taking its place on the stage along side conventional cancer treatment. It complements Western medical care with a holistic focus on the mind, body and spirit and is now being offered as part of supportive cancer care at major cancer treatment centers throughout the United States, including Stanford, UCSF Medical Center, Johns Hopkins, and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. So close your eyes, relax and just forget about those needles!

• Inspection focuses on the face and particularly on the tongue, including analysis of the tongue size, shape, tension, color and coating, and the absence or presence of teeth marks around the edge. • Auscultation and olfaction refer, respectively, to listening for particular sounds (such as wheezing) and attending to body odor. • Inquiring focuses on the "seven inquiries", which are: chills and fever; perspiration; appetite, thirst and taste; defecation and urination; pain; sleep; and menses and leukorrhea (vaginal discharge). • Palpation includes feeling the body for "ashi" (tender) points Most of the main acupuncture points are found on the twelve main meridians, pathways through which Qi and "Blood" flow. Treatment of acupuncture points may be performed along several layers of pathways, most commonly the twelve primary channels, or mai, located throughout the body. Photos: Devon Bonaguidi and Elizabeth Bouchard

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yoga energy for

by Erin Stroud

Yoga is an integrative therapy that can be used at any stage of illness to improve the quality of life. We use breath-control, gentle movement, imagery, and meditations that allow individuals to turn their focus inward, in order to feel in control of their lives. It has been documented that yoga aids in reducing anxiety, depression, pain, insomnia, and chronic fatigue that are common side effects of cancer and its treatments. Yoga meets you exactly where you are. Some days you feel strong and full of energy, while others leave you feeling like you’ll never make it out of bed. When faced with the fatigue that comes with cancer and its treatments, it’s a struggle to know how we’ll feel when we wake up in the morning, so making plans for an exercise regimen becomes very difficult. Yoga can take many different forms. Your circumstances (your diagnosis, the

kind of treatment you’re undergoing, and how you’re feeling) will determine your practice. Restorative yoga is an ideal physical practice for those with cancer. Let’s take a second to consider the word, restorative. Merriam-Webster defines the word restorative as ‘having the ability to make a person feel strong or healthy again.’ When we’re fatigued, isn’t that exactly how we’d like to feel, strong and healthy? In Restorative Yoga, props are used to support the body. The use of props, such as blocks, bolsters and blankets, allows the body to open through passive stretching. Poses are performed on the floor and are held for longer periods of time allowing for a very peaceful, meditative practice. But what about those days when we can’t muster up the energy to get out of bed? Remember when I said yoga would

meet you where you are? Yes, there’s even a practice for times when we’re feeling fatigued, lethargic and defeated. Pr a is the Sanskrit word for life force. Pr y ma is the "extension of the pr a or breath" or, "extension of the life force." Breathing is essential for regulating and controlling the life force. A simple yogic breath is a great way to begin to redirect life force into the cells. To practice this breath, sit tall, allowing the lower abdomen to expand as you breathe in. The shoulders should remain still. Focus on filling up the lungs, without straining. When you exhale, try to empty the lungs completely, so the inhale almost becomes a reflex. Very easy, very controlled. Continue this pattern for as long as you can, at least ten minutes every day. The breath is something that is lost when we’re fatigued, anxious or depressed. Try focusing on

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the breath while in your car, in line at the grocery store or during treatments and see, just by simply breathing, how much more calm you feel. Breathing and meditation are the components of yoga that have the biggest impact on fatigue, vitality, depression, as well as a reduction of inflammation. Spending just 5 minutes of your day, turning your attention inward, can make all the difference in the world. You begin to feel connected to your body in a way that you weren’t before. Unfortunately, meditation is a practice that most individuals find unattainable, or overwhelming. I’m here to tell you that anyone can do it! Begin by sitting in a comfortable position, eyes closed and breathe, using that yogic breath. Try this for 5 minutes. Acknowledge thoughts as they enter the mind and then release them. Acknowledge and release. Using the breath to find that mental, emotional and physical release. The use of mantras, imagery or guided mediation also allows us to clear the mind, creating a reality of health and wellness. For example, using imagery during radiation or chemotherapy can dramatically change our experience. Instead of whatever negative connotations we carry with us into treatments, think of the treatment instead as healing nectar, or healing waves of energy. See it as your ally in helping to rid your body of cancer. Use the inhale to manifest positive thoughts and emotions into your being, and the exhale to rid yourself of feelings of hopelessness, sadness, fear, anger and resentment. Carving time out for yourself is the key. By starting small, and creating these positive associations, we have the power to change our entire outlook, allowing us to feel in control of our lives and treatment.

Cancer patients who practice yoga as therapy during their treatment often refer to their yoga practice as a life-saver. No matter how sick from treatments and no matter how little energy, many find that the one thing that would bring relief were a gentle set of therapeutic yoga poses geared for cancer patients. When battling cancer, the worst part is not just the symptoms of the disease itself, but often the discomfort and debilitating fatigue brought on from cancer treatments. Whether faced with the scar-tissue of surgery or ongoing nausea and weakness from chemotherapy or radiation, cancer patients endure a long road of physical trials. But as many cancer patients and cancer survivors are discovering, there are ways to strengthen their bodies and deal with the uncomfortable side-effects of treatment, both during and after treatment. As the interest in more holistic approaches to healing is growing, yoga therapy for cancer patients and cancer survivors is emerging as one of the more successful methods for combating the physical discomfort of cancer and cancer treatment. How does yoga help relieve the suffering that cancer all too often brings with it? Gentle yoga poses for cancer patients can work magic on many levels. First of all, yoga used as therapy for cancer can help clear out toxins accrued during cancer treatment more effectively. Yoga asanas stimulate not just muscles, but also increases blood flow, balances the glands and enhances the lymphatic flow in the body, all of which enhances the body's internal purification processes. The deep, relaxing breathing often emphasized in yoga for cancer therapy also increases the current of oxygen-rich blood to the cells, delivering vital nutrients to tired cells and further clearing out toxins. In addition to removing toxins, yoga for cancer can help dissipate tension and anxiety and enable cancer patients to settle into a greater sense of ease and well-being. Stress depresses the body's natural immune function, which may be one of the reasons that there is evidence that people who practice yoga for cancer have greater recovery rates. Regular exercise also has been shown

to stimulate the body's natural anti-cancer defenses. However, few cancer patients or cancer survivors feel up to the task of engaging in a 'regular' exercise regimen. Many find that yoga as therapy for cancer provides an ideal, balanced form of wholebody exercise. It's no wonder that more and more doctors have begun to recommend yoga for cancer patients and cancer survivors. For those enduring chemotherapy and radiation, yoga for cancer provides a means to strengthen the body, boost them immune system, and produce a muchsought-after feeling of well-being. For those recovering from surgery, such as that for breast cancer, yoga can help restore motion and flexibility in a gentle, balanced manner. Yoga for cancer survivors and patients also provides an internal anchor of calm. Many practicing yoga therapy have discovered an interesting, subtle benefit, an increased awareness of a great, internal stillness and sense of unity. They've found, at the most fundamental level of their own consciousness, a sense of true health and vitality that spills over into other aspects of life. Get to Know our writer Erin attended her first yoga class in 1999 and continued to practice intermittently for almost 10 years. In 2008, she began to incorporate yoga as part of her regular routine for the physical benefits it offered while training for marathons. She continued to seek the purely physical part of yoga until she lost her mother to cancer. Her practice immediately deepened as she worked through the grief process and in June 2013 she completed her teacher training at Casa de Yoga in El Paso, Texas. Erin strives to deliver an emotionally uplifting class, encouraging her students to practice self-love and acceptance. Pursuing her dream of working with individuals undergoing treatment for various forms of cancer, as well as with cancer survivors, Erin hopes to expand the available resources for care to the cancer population within her community.

Rio Grande Cancer Foundation 10460 Vista del Sol Suite 101 El Paso, TX 79925


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